Eastbourne MP calls for rail passenger refunds

MP Caroline Ansell
MP Caroline Ansell

Caroline Ansell has called on Govia to offer a 50 per cent refund to season ticket holders hit by months of rail strike action.

The Eastbourne MP said she, like many other commuters, was ‘completely fed up’ with the ongoing dispute between Southern Rail and the RMT.

“My view is Govia must immediately start compensating season ticket holders for all the disruption and I feel a 50 per cent refund would be appropriate,” said Mrs Ansell.

“It appears the revised timetable of fewer trains will not have much effect on services from Eastbourne, but the fact Govia has introduced it shows just how serious the situation is.

“I echo the sentiments of the hundreds of constituents who have contacted me these last few months when I say to both parties: ‘please, please, get around a table and start talking about ending the misery of passengers’.”

Speaking after a meeting with RMT representatives the MP also said she was ‘disappointed’ the union would reject any new rollout of driver-only operated trains and its safety concerns ‘do not bear scrutiny’.

She said the Rail Safety and Standards Board said there was ‘no increased safety risk’ with the driver-only operated (DOO) system despite the RMT repeatedly raising safety concerns about its introduction.

“This intractable position is unhelpful and fails to grasp the system proposed by Govia is already being used safely across substantial parts of the network nationally and has been for decades,” said Mrs Ansell.

“It’s even more disappointing that, when asked what would be a compromise, the union did not seem interested in explaining its position.”

Responding to the MP’s comments, a union spokesman said: “RMT has offered to suspend any further action in the dispute if GTR suspend their plans to bulldoze through DOO next month.

“We want a three-month pause to allow for proper talks to take place.

“That is a fair offer in good faith which we know the public support and instead of attacking the union we would hope that local MPs would ‎get behind it as well.”

Mrs Ansell said some of the blame for the bitter dispute should rest at the feet of operator Govia.

“I fully understand that Govia is partly to blame for this situation because it has handled the changes badly and caused ill will with its employees,” she said.

“I do welcome that it has restored family passes to workers in a gesture of goodwill, but relations are at a low point and trust at a premium.

“But all the time this continues it is passengers who are suffering.”

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