During Prime Minister’s Questions, Sir Oliver Heald MP took the opportunity to highlight to Prime Minister Theresa May the ‘appalling’ rail service that constituents have had to face for seven weeks.
The North East Hertfordshire Member of Parliament questioned the Prime Minister on whether Govia Thameslink (GTR) should be stripped of its franchise and that an operator of last resort should be brought in if the new interim timetable due on 15th July fails to deliver a reliable rail service.
The Prime Minister recognised Oliver’s concerns and acknowledged that service has been ‘simply unacceptable’. She went on to say that if services are not provided in the way that customers expect, then the Department of Transport will look into the issue further, stating that ‘nothing is off the table’.
Sir Oliver has been pressing for an improved reliability of timetable, service and accurate information for passengers for seven weeks. He has now taken up this issue at every level in GTR and with the Government, because of his concern at the appalling service for constituents. He has done so repeatedly and also cooperated with other MPs to press for improvements. The next test will be the new timetable of 15th July with promises this will be a regular service.
- Sir Oliver Heald (North East Hertfordshire) (Con)
Despite great Government investment in the railway line from Cambridge into King’s Cross St Pancras and then across London on Thameslink, over the past seven weeks my constituents have endured an appalling service. We are told that that will now improve on 15 July, but if it does not, does the Prime Minister agree with me that Govia Thameslink should be stripped of the service and a new operator—a new operator of last resort—brought in to sort out this mess?
- The Prime Minister
As I have said previously, the disruption that passengers have been facing is simply unacceptable, and it is unacceptable that it is continuing to happen today. As my right hon. and learned Friend says, on 15 July there will be a full interim timetable introduced, with the aim of improving reliability and performance for passengers, and there is work being done—a review of Govia Thameslink, which is going to report in the next few weeks. Clearly, however, we need to ensure that the priority is to make sure that that interim timetable is implemented and passengers do get the services that they need. We also need to ensure that if the services are not provided in the way that is right and are not what the passengers need, the Department for Transport will look at this, and that nothing is off the table
You can watch the clip of Oliver's question here: