Commuters urged to take part in consultation

    Tunbridge Wells Railway Station

    GREG Clark was up at the crack of dawn on Friday (April 21) as he sought to engage with the long-suffering Tunbridge Wells rail commuter on their views about the service.

    The MP was seeking the opinions of passengers which he will then feed into an ongoing consultation over the future of the Southeastern rail franchise.

    Frequently coming near the bottom of lists indicating passenger satisfaction, Southeastern’s contract to run the franchise is coming up for renewal on December 2018, and public opinion has been sought on the best course of action.

    The consultation, which ends on May 23, has attracted the input of numerous commuter groups.

    Commenting on his own anecdotal findings after talking to members of the public, Mr Clark said: “It was very helpful to speak with rail passengers about the improvements they want to our service, and what standards the next franchise operator should be held to.

    “Issues raised included overcrowding, the high price and inflexibility of tickets, lack of wifi and poor information at times of disruption.

    “I’m keen to hear from all constituents on what their priorities are, as their comments will feed into my response to the Department for Transport’s consultation on the new franchise.”

    A spokesman at Southeastern said they ‘welcome any changes’ to the Department for Transport’s franchise specification that will further improve services for passengers.

    They added: “We’re focused on delivering our current franchise and will continue to invest over £70million in improvements in the areas that matter most to our passengers.

    “Our recent National Rail Passenger Survey customer satisfaction scores have risen, reflecting that passengers are noticing the improvements being made; but we know there is still more work to do and we will continue to work with Network Rail to improve the experience passengers have when travelling with us.”