Priti Patel chairs public rail meeting for local commuters
Witham MP, Priti Patel and Chair of the Great Eastern Mainline Taskforce chaired a rail meeting for local commuters with Greater Anglia and Network Rail on Wednesday evening in Witham [30 May 2018].
At the meeting, representatives from Greater Anglia and Network Rail addressed concerns from passengers about engineering works, step-free access at local stations, ticket prices and delay repay compensation.
Jamie Burles, Managing Director at Greater Anglia, addressed some of the rumours about delay repay compensation and confirmed that the company is working to introduce 15 minute delay repay, despite this not being a commitment of the new franchise. The final proposal for Delay Repay 15 will be submitted to the Department for Transport in June for approval.
Mr Burles also confirmed that new rolling stock will be introduced on the line from summer 2019 and that these new trains will have more seats, will be fully air conditioned and will have free Wi-Fi.
Network Rail provided an update on rail infrastructure upgrades and confirmed that they are developing a plan for the next five years which includes significant operational, maintenance and renewal plans such as refurbishing nearly a quarter of the track and completing renewals of overhead line equipment. A request for £2.5 million of funding has been submitted to the Office of Rail and Road, a request supported by the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce chaired by Ms Patel, and a final determination on this funding should be received in October later this year.
Speaking after the meeting, Ms Patel said:
“This meeting was an opportunity for local commuters to question representatives from Greater Anglia and Network Rail, as well as hear about the longer term strategic plans both have for our local railway.
“Passengers across the constituency have experienced significant disruptions on the train line, whilst paying some of the highest prices nationally, and it is important that they are able to hold those responsible for running our railways to account.
“The proposed introduction of Delay Repay 15 is the biggest win for local passengers. I have long campaigned for this to be introduced and I am delighted that Greater Anglia have been proactive on this and are working to implement this change despite it not being a commitment of the franchise. I will now be pushing the Department for Transport to look at the proposal from Greater Anglia and expedite their application so Delay Repay 15 can be introduced for passengers as soon as possible.
“I want to thank Greater Anglia, Network Rail and local commuters for attending this meeting. As Chair of the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce, I will continue to work closely with Greater Anglia and Network Rail and campaign for investment in our railways so passengers across the Main Line benefit from more modern and reliable train services. Further local meetings are being planned so that commuters from the wider constituency can also have their concerns and views heard and be updated on the work of the GEML Taskforce.”