A Lewisham MP has used a House of Commons debate to attack the state of Southeastern trains, calling them "grim".
Heidi Alexander secured a Commons debate on the company last night (May 6), calling for 12-car trains to serve stations suring the rush hour, highlightiong the cost of travel and questioning why the Platform Four gate at Lewisham station has been permanently closed.
She said: "The daily reality for many of the 37,000 people in Lewisham who use the trains to get to and from work every day is grim - hot, horrendously overcrowded, late and slow trains, with a hefty price tag to boot. I am not prone to exaggeration, but I honestly believe that in this country we transport cattle better than some of my constituents.
"Just last month, I was contacted by a constituent who told me that he had seen two people collapse in the last 10 days due to overcrowded and overheated trains."
She went on: "To add insult to injury, year on year we are paying more and more for the pleasure. An annual season ticket on Southeastern for zones 1 to 3, a point-to-point ticket that allows travel only from one station to another, now costs £976.
"It has gone up by £216 since 2010 - a 28 per cent increase in four years. Travelcards, which allow onward use of the tube and bus network, cost considerably more. The rising cost of those tickets has massively outstripped the negligible changes that people have seen in their pay packets and it makes a very significant dent in household budgets."
And Dartford MP Gareth Johnson joined in, asking: "Does she agree that although poor reliability may be Southeastern’s main failing, it is compounded by the poor communication with the commuters who are constituents of hers and mine?"
Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Transport Robert Goodwill MP declined to join Ms Alexander on a journey, but said a member of his staff who used Southeastern often complained about not getting a seat, and was happy to have moved further from London so she had a better chance.
An online petition to get the Platform Four gate re-opened has been started. Visit the website to sign it.
A Southeastern spokesman said: "We know that some trains in the London metro area are particularly busy during peak times and we have already strengthened our services to help address this. The steps we’ve taken include introducing more peak services and protecting those services to ensure we run the longest trains that we can during those times.
"Our plans to run 12-carriage trains on some routes are dependent on upgrades to equipment at stations and until that work is carried out we can’t safely run them. We do understand how important this issue is to our customers and we’re working with Network Rail to carry out the work to bring in these services as quickly as possible."