Evennett Questions Minister on Rail Capacity

David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, made representations on behalf of constituents to the Secretary of State for Transport during Question Time in the House of Commons yesterday (19 December). After concern about rail fare increases and overcrowding, Mr Evennett asked the Secretary of State what assessment he has made of future passenger capacity on the rail network.

Tom Harris, Under-Secretary of State, replied “Since 1996-97, the number of railway passenger journeys has increased by 35 per cent. Current forecasts suggest that that trend will continue”.

Mr Evennett probed “Is he aware of the considerable dissatisfaction that is felt by my constituents who use the south-east London commuter route about overcrowding, increases in fares, and the unreliability of the service? Furthermore, there is great concern that, as a result of housing developments in Kent and along the Thames Gateway, those problems will get worse. Will the Minister take that on board and take action?”

Mr Harris said “I understand the honourable Gentleman’s concerns… Increasing capacity does not always mean running extra trains”.

Mr Evennett commented afterwards “The Government needs to understand the problems that my constituents and other commuters have experienced in recent months. Overcrowding and significant delays have had a real impact on people’s journeys, with inflation-busting fare rises coming in the New Year. We need action from the Government, not just talk”.

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