England

Sussex rail disruption as operators meet MPs

Southern train Image copyright PA
Image caption Passengers took to Twitter to complain about delays

About 20 MPs have met rail bosses to raise concerns about train services which have been branded "a joke".

The meeting took place as Southern and Network Rail apologised for earlier disruption on the Brighton line.

Representatives from both companies were questioned in parliament.

Streatham's Labour MP Chuka Umunna said it was "disappointing with yet more excuses and promises". Rail minister Claire Perry said everybody in the room was frustrated.

But she said: "What I want to do is grind forward with these improvements, improve the compensation regime which we've said we've done, improve passenger information, and get the whole industry focused on how vital this part of the railway is."

MPs had criticised problems including delayed services, engineering work and shortages of carriages and train drivers.

'Antiquated working practices'

Simon Kirby, Conservative MP for Brighton Kempton, said the city's commuters were "incredibly frustrated".

He said the summit was to tackle driver shortages, poor rolling stock, antiquated working practices and substandard infrastructure with Network Rail "too slow to repair faults and programmed maintenance".

Network Rail said it delivered a huge amount of work over Christmas, completed 10 days of work at London Bridge and Purley on time, and continued to undertake work overnight and at weekends very successfully.

A spokesman for Govia Thameslink Railway, which runs the Southern franchise through Sussex, Surrey, and parts of Kent and Hampshire, said: "We know the train service has not been good enough and apologise to passengers."

Disruption on Monday morning saw delays between Brighton and Three Bridges.

On Twitter, passenger Jane Perry posted: "Notices of refunds no help to people around me seriously worried about losing their jobs. Not good enough."

Adam Young tweeted he had decided to "abandon ship and return home".

And Arjo Ghosh joked: "We're only running two hours late!"

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