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Peter Lamb: Making the railways accountable to the public

In his article this week the Leader of Crawley Borough Council talks about changes needed for the railways.

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It seems as though railways are never really out of the news. In the same week as we’re faced with radical timetable changes, the Government has decided to temporarily nationalise the East Coast Mainline. Railways have a big impact upon Crawley.

Increasing numbers of residents commute to London daily, two-thirds of Crawley’s own workforce lives outside of town and millions of passengers pass through Gatwick monthly. When railways fail the local impact is huge.

The Government’s decision to takeover the East Coast franchise was prompted by poor performance, although they say they intend to hand it back to the private sector in due course. We’ve been round this circle before: companies are brought in and fail, franchises are then taken over by the Government and recover, before being re-privatised.

The irony that many of the companies running the franchises are owned by foreign Governments appears lost on them, but the reality is UK passengers are subsidising other countries’ networks with their high ticket prices.

This has to stop. Since 2002, the physical rail network has been back in public hands and working well again, it’s time to do likewise with the rail companies. It doesn’t even have to cost anything, all we have to do is to wait for the franchises to run out and they automatically revert to public ownership.

As a council, we’ve worked hard to try to improve local rail services, helping to secure the investment for major improvements to both Three Bridges and Crawley, pushing for a solution to ongoing poor performance by GTR and standing up for customers over the gradual reductions in service standards.

Unfortunately, at the end of the day so long as the railways are accountable to these companies and not to the British public, the likelihood of things changing course is low.

Cllr Peter Lamb
Leader, Crawley Borough Council

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. kevin hall

    21st May 2018 at 4:57 pm

    well I remember all the commuters saying that that it would be better if it was a private company like the good old days?
    so after many years they got there wish, but alas they now wish it was good old BR, you just can not please some people can you.

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BREAKING NEWS: Hard shoulder could return to M23

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In a shocking turn a meeting with the Transport Secretary Grant Shapp with Crawley’s MP Henry Smith has revealed that the proposed new ‘Smart Motorway’ could be reverted back to a three lane plus hard shoulder one.

Meeting with the Transport Secretary and the Roads Minister Baroness Vere, Mr Smith expressed his concerns over the safety and construction period disruptions occuring on the M23.

It comes only a week after the Crawley MP raised the issue in the House Of Commons.

But in a meeting today the Transport Secretary revealed that an urgent review which is currently being undertaken could lead to the reinstatement of the hard shoulder along the M23.

Mr Smith said:

“I was pleased to hear the Transport Secretary give assurances that the works on the M23 will be expedited so there will not be another six month delay. I was also assured that the ongoing works will also take account of the review and if that means reinstating the hard shoulder or adding extra refuges and signage I would support it.”

Speaking exclusively to CN24 Mr Smith said that he had been assured that a decision on Smart Motorways would be made before the M23 works finished allowing whatever decision made on them to be implemented straight away.

The news will have a mixed reaction to the many commuters who use the M23 every day and have had to endure long queues.

But if the hard shoulder returns it will open new questions over the huge expense that many will see having been a waste of money.

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