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Horsham Liberal Democrats

We Must End the Southern Rail Debacle Now!

December 18, 2016 10:59 AM
By Stephen Lloyd, former Lib Dem MP for Eastbourne

Rail users have had to put up with an appalling service from Southern Rail. Even before the strikes the company's service was one of the worst amongst all the train companies across the UK.

Now the situation has become totally unacceptable.

Businesses in the South and South East of England are being adversely affected, important appointments missed, everyday family routines of commuters wrecked, people are losing their jobs because they cannot guarantee their employer what time they will get into work or, on strike days, even that they will get into work.

All this because of the deplorable non-service provided by Southern Rail.

This cannot go on any longer.

We call on the Secretary of State at the Department of Transport (Dft), Chris Grayling MP, to act now before it is too late and serious long term damage is done to tens of thousands of lives and businesses as a result of the shocking rail service southern commuters have had to endure for far too long.

We demand the Secretary of State take personal responsibility for solving the crisis. Furthermore, we also demand the 50 or so Conservative MPs in the region insist Mr Grayling intervenes. We all know that if every local Tory MP whose constituents are affected by Southern Rail threatened to resign, the government would ensure all sides were around the negotiating table in a heartbeat!

No ifs or buts the time has come when local Tory parliamentarians need to choose. Will they act for their beleaguered constituents or not?

To stop this ongoing and appalling rail chaos extending further into 2017, the Secretary of State must take the following five steps:

1/ All parties involved - Southern Rail, RMT and Aslef agree to go to the independent tribunal ACAS for arbitration.

2/ There should be no pre-conditions to the talks.

3/ There must be no strikes whilst the talks continue.

4/ That the final terms agreed by the negotiation be binding on all concerned.

5/ Furthermore, that the Dft must also accept the agreement and in the spirit of honest negotiation, publicly commit to not preventing Southern Rail from reaching terms with the Trade Unions.

An Acas spokesman has recently said: "Our services remain available." Their offer MUST be taken up.

Bluntly the time has come for the government to step up and govern on behalf of beleaguered rail users. It is also time for the region's Conservative MPs to step up for their long suffering constituents.

Please sign my petition - link below - and share far and wide so that we can get enough people on board to force some sense into those who actually have the power to fix our dreadful rail service.

End the Southern Rail Debacle Now!


Stephen Lloyd
Lib Dem Parliamentary Spokesman
Eastbourne & Willingdon Constituency