Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd has spoken out in the House of Commons over the rail saga after a disabled passenger was left on the platform while three trains went past as there was no staff member to help her onto the train.
Mr Lloyd called for an end to the Southern Rail dispute, highlighting the refusal of the Government to meet with the two unions involved, the RMT and ASLEF, at the same time as one of the key stumbling points.
He also highlighted specific issues he has with the concept of ‘Driver Only Operated’ trains: issues raised by female constituents around them feeling unsafe on services without a second member of staff, particularly later services, concerns raised by parents about school children travelling on the network and, thirdly, the inaccessibility for disabled passengers created by the lack of a second member of staff.
Addressing the Transport Minister directly, Mr Lloyd also asked whether he would, “confirm or deny that the [Department for Transport] have blocked, or disrupted, the settling of the Southern Rail dispute.” The Minister failed to answer.
Speaking after the debate, Mr Lloyd said, “I wanted to be absolutely clear in this debate and I was. I do not support the concept of ‘Driver Only’ trains and I set out my three main reasons for that.
“But what was equally imperative was that this didn’t descend in to a slanging match between Labour and the Conservatives over the rights and wrongs of unions. Although some members, on both sides, tried to turn the debate in to that, the majority of the debate focussed on the main issue of resolving the dispute for the benefit of passengers, as I wanted it to.
“It is now over to the Government and the Secretary of State. If they are serious and if this is not just, as I suggested, about ‘breaking’ the RMT, then it is vital the meeting I asked for happens without delay.
“Why will the Department for Transport and Govia Thameslink Railway not meet both of the unions together so that this dispute can be resolved? If they do, this it could end in a matter of days. The Secretary of State needs to stop playing games and start putting long suffering rail passengers in Eastbourne and across the South East first.”