Last week I met the Managing Directors of Southern and South Eastern rail companies to discuss performance and service levels on behalf of local rail users. Both train operators have experienced difficulties in the last year and their services have been impacted by the work being undertaken at London Bridge. Southern has been particularly criticised for poor punctuality and over-crowding and I took part in a debate on their performance in Parliament this week. As a regular commuter myself, I am all too aware of these problems and the importance of a reliable rail service for those who travel to work by train.
I am pleased that new carriages will be found on the crowded Southern service from Uckfield however, the lack of carriages on the diesel Brighton to Ashford Marshlink service is a huge problem for constituents travelling to and from Bexhill in rush-hour. I pressed again for more carriages but this is another reason why we must look ahead for new rail solutions such as the high-speed upgrade for Bexhill. HS1 would not only get passengers from Bexhill to London St Pancras in 78 minutes, it would give us quality Javelin trains to travel in.
South Eastern passengers have lost many direct trains to London Bridge whilst the redevelopment takes place but overall performance has improved since the landslide issues in 2014. However, there is more to do by both companies to improve customer satisfaction, keep passengers informed when there are problems and to provide better and more flexible fare deals. I am determined to bring about lasting transport improvement to the area. My appointment to the Transport Select Committee demonstrates, I hope, my commitment.
Being an MP, I spend many hours at a desk or in the Chamber at Westminster. This is not always good for body and soul so to get some exercise into my week, I have joined the All Parliamentary Football Team which plays in London and, for charity, at football grounds around the country. The emphasis is on endeavour rather than skill, and we were this week put to the sword by the U.S. Embassy team, but it is a great way to keep fit and mix with MPs from all sides of the House. Whilst I may appear on television from time to time in the House of Commons, it is unlikely that our football team will be troubling your set unless we are featured on You've Been Framed!