Southeastern services 'worst for 40 years'

Southeastern train Image copyright PA
Image caption The issue of Southeastern's performance had united Labour and Conservative MPs, the debate was told

Commuters using Southeastern trains are facing "meltdown" from constantly delayed services, MPs have been told.

Clive Efford, Labour MP for Eltham, said he had been bombarded with angry messages and complaints from constituents about the service.

One said the trains which link south London, Kent and parts of East Sussex were the worst they had been in 40 years, Mr Efford added.

MPs across the political divide spoke during the Westminster Hall debate.

'Woeful' performance

Mr Efford said that for too long people had been crammed on overcrowded trains, particularly at peak times, adding that it was not acceptable to run trains of just six carriages.

"When you do get stuck, you hear the people on their mobile phones, you can hear the life stories just going into meltdown around you," he said.

"Since Christmas the situation has deteriorated quite significantly."

Image caption Tonbridge and Malling MP Tom Tugendhat said Southeastern's performance was woeful

Conservative MP for Tonbridge and Malling, Tom Tugendhat, said Southeastern's performance was "woeful" despite the rail company meeting its franchise targets.

"It cannot be right that one in five trains is coming in late, one in five trains is leaving workers late for a meeting and one in five trains is forcing people to change their plans and still somehow this is an acceptable target," he said.

Southeastern and Network Rail said they were were working to improve performance on one of the most congested parts of the UK railway network.

"Network Rail is investing millions in improving its infrastructure - including completely rebuilding London Bridge station," they said in a joint statement.

"Southeastern is working hard to improve the performance of its trains including bringing in a rigorous maintenance regime that now sees more trains in service at any one time than ever before.

"We realise that performance has not always been as good as our passengers would like and we are working hard to change this."

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