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Dartford MP Gareth Johnson takes on Southeastern at special Parliamentary debate
DARTFORD’s MP has taken Southeastern to task over its perceived failings at a specially organised Parliamentary debate.
Gareth Johnson called the Westminster Hall session and took the opportunity to rebuke the train operator for a "lack of innovation", poor communication and pricing issues.
He questioned why passengers have yet to enjoy free wi-fi, why the Oyster card has not been extended into Kent or a similar scheme developed and wanted the company to justify fee increases on busier routes.
The lack of a fast service from Dartford and allegations Southeastern has been cancelling trains or missing out stops to meet performance targets, were other issues raised.
Southeastern came in for criticism from Dartford's MP.
Mr Johnson told transport minister Robert Goodwill at the debate on February 12: "There are many cases of trains being delayed due to poor weather but Southeastern’s own website claims the service is running and running on time yet when people have got down to the station, they have found out it isn’t.
"This has to stop. There is also the belief that trains have been cancelled or missed stations simply to meet these targets.
"This is certainly the generally held view of commuters in my constituency and if this is true this must never happen again."
Following the debate Mr Johnson added: "Too many times people are let down by Southeastern.
"People are totally reliant on train services in order to get to work and pay their bills so it is vital we see an improvement in the reliability of Southeastern."
Southeastern public affairs manager Mike Gibson branded the performance targets rumour an "urban myth", claiming any cancelled train, or one skipping more than half its planned stops, counts against these figures.
He said "technical issues" had held up plans for wi-fi on trains, discussions are ongoing to extend the Oyster card to Dartford and the Government has responsibility for setting prices for the vast majority of Southeastern’s tickets as they are regulated fares.
Mr Gibson added: "Doing much more [to create a fast service from Dartford] would mean taking stops out at intermediate stations in the London suburbs.
"We are dependent on accurate and timely information from Network Rail as to the condition of infrastructure and when we are able to run services.
"This is not to make excuses or dodge or responsibilities but getting prompt and accurate information to passengers is not the easy task some critics suggest and other train operators would share this view."
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