Portsmouth MP takes up Southern rail fiasco with government officials

A Southern train - another strike has been called for today
A Southern train - another strike has been called for today

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THE MP for Portsmouth North has stepped up the pressure on train officials to resolve the dispute blighting the Southern rail network.

Penny Mordaunt has met transport secretary Chris Grayling and rail minister Paul Maynard in an effort to help end strikes and bring in a better service for passengers – who she says ‘must be put first’.

I’m continuing to push for full services to be restored, for passengers to be properly compensated, for the company to be held to account for the franchise it is failing to run and the union to put passengers first.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt

It comes after Southern warned more than two out of five trains will be cancelled during a fresh strike by workers this week.

But RMT bosses say Southern’s parent company ‘clearly has no interest’ in a solution.

Union members are set to walk out today and tomorrow in the long-running dispute over changes to the role of conductors.

Almost 60 per cent of trains will run during the strike, but there will be a restricted service, with many routes having fewer trains, and none at all in some areas.

Ms Mordaunt said: ‘The new rail minister is really gripping this issue and is keen to hear specific details from passengers about continuing problems with the service.

‘I’d ask constituents to keep letting me know about the problems they are having.

‘We are also addressing some of the recurring issues which prevent an efficient from running – sometimes it can be as simple as signage to prevent bridge strikes.

‘I would also encourage people who feel they could be the passenger representative on the new board to put their names forward by contacting my office.

‘I’m continuing to push for full services to be restored, for passengers to be properly compensated, for the company to be held to account for the franchise it is failing to run and the union to put passengers first.’

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT union, said: ‘RMT remains available for serious talks but Govia Thameslink Railway clearly has no interest in resolving the dispute.’

But Southern passenger services director Alex Foulds said: ‘Passengers will be rightly dismayed that the RMT has chosen to disrupt services yet again.’