I invited Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, to Eltham yesterday to talk about the Department for Transport’s ongoing consultation on the future of the South Eastern rail franchise. You can read the interview that Chris gave yesterday to the Greenwich Mercury online here.
As an Eltham councillor and Leader of the Conservatives at the Town Hall, I have strongly opposed any suggestion that Bexleyheath line trains should go to Cannon Street only. The answer to South East London’s transport problems is more connectivity, not less – and I have been making the case to Ministers for Charing Cross and Victoria services to be maintained.
This week I submitted the Conservative Council Group’s formal response to the consultation, which has been extended until 30th June to give commuters more time to share their views.
In our meeting yesterday and in his interview with the Mercury, Chris Grayling was very clear – his priority as Transport Secretary is improving services and crucially, delivering longer trains – and when it comes to the issue of the terminals served from our local stations, he is not going to make any change that doesn’t have the support of commuters.
That’s why this consultation is so important – and why I have been encouraging residents for the past two months to respond individually, and not just sign petitions – as ultimately it is our individual consultation responses that will ensure our views as local commuters are heard by decision-makers.
Crucially, this consultation is about much more than this one issue of the terminals served on the Bexleyheath line – it also contains several welcome aims such as extra carriages, more standing room and closer co-operation between the operator and Network Rail. You can read my thoughts, and those of my fellow Conservative councillors, in full here.
Local commuters have suffered from a terrible service from Southeastern for far too long – and they need an MP who can work with Ministers and the operator to get things done on their behalf. If I am elected as Eltham’s new MP on 8th June, I will continue to represent our concerns to Ministers – and to fight for the improvements that local commuters deserve.