MPs query Southeastern after payouts scrapped
Kent's long-suffering commuters were
hit by a hike in station car parking charges today – right on the
back of this week's fare increases.
The news came as thousands of regular
passengers returned to work after a Christmas break.
Southeastern's regulated fares will go
up by an average of 7.8 per cent to pay for extra investment,
including the high-speed Javelin trains.
And from today car parking charges at
some stations will also go up. It means an annual space at
Sevenoaks station will cost £1252.50.
One commuter Vicky Wise said: "After the appalling start to the
New Year imposing a fare rise on commuters from Ashford to London,
Southeastern have now compounded the issue with a rise in car
parking fees, adding insult to injury."
Earlier, it was revealed passengers will be denied
compensation payouts because Southeastern narrowly passed
Click here to read Paul's view on the fare rises
The announcement on payouts has come under scrutiny from
MPs, who have called for an independent audit of Southeastern’s
Season ticket holders would have been
entitled to a five per cent reduction had Southeastern failed to
run 82 per cent of its trains on time over the last 12 months.
But the company says it managed to run
82.04 per cent of services punctually over that period - avoiding
having to cut prices.
Several MPs have expressed reservations about the company’s
figures, saying they should be re-examined.
Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch said: "This is certainly
something that needs to be looked at. I do not think it is credible
given the amount of correspondence I’ve had from people complaining
about the services. The vast majority of Southeastern commuters are
rather miffed about the increase in fares because the service they
get does not match the increase."
Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark, a government minister, said:
"These figures should be examined exceedingly closely and
forensically to make sure they are accurate and have not been
manipulated in any way."
Commuters are entitled to compensation under the Passenger
Meanwhile, a second Kent MP has called on the government to
strip Southeastern of its franchise.
Rochester and Strood MP Mark Reckless (Con) said: "These latest
fare increases, combined with the news that Southeastern commuters
will not enjoy an automatic season ticket discount despite the
pitiful performance in December, suggests that Southeastern Trains
is beyond redemption."
He added: "The company is simply treating the Kent franchise as
a cash cow and does not even appear to be making decisions which
are commercially sensible. Southeastern should be stripped of the
franchise as soon as possible."
Southeastern said that its punctuality figures were already
independently checked and that it was "completely incorrect" that
it cancelled services for commercial reasons.
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