Government admits involvement in Southeastern train cuts following pressure from Abena Oppong-Asare MP


Responding to written questions submitted by Erith and Thamesmead MP, Abena Oppong-Asare, the Government has admitted they gave Southeastern permission to proceed with service cuts
without consulting the public.

After months of denial, the Department for Transport responded to a written question Ms Oppong-Asare MP submitted on 7th
November 2022, revealing they gave Southeastern an exemption from the requirement to consult in August this year. This allowed Southeastern to plan train service cuts without consulting the public.

Ms Oppong-Asare then asked the Department how many rail operators had been given exemptions from consultation rules in 2020, 2021, and 2022. She also asked what process the Department follows when decided to give exemptions and why they decided to award one to Southeastern.

The Department for Transport responded late to these questions and did not provide full answers. They did admit that only one rail operator had requested an exemption – Southeastern Railway.

Last Thursday (24th November), Ms Oppong-Asare MP challenged the Leader of the House, Penny Mordaunt MP, on this. In a previous exchange, Ms Mordaunt had said “it is vital that passengers are consulted on any changes to services, whether timetabling or other changes”. Yesterday, Ms Mordaunt promised to pass on Ms Oppong-Asare MP’s concerns to the Department for Transport.

Ms Oppong-Asare MP is meeting this week with the Transport Minister, Huw Merriman MP. She hopes to also speak with Southeastern Chief Executive, Steve White, who she will be urging to cancel the cuts.

The cuts will result in no direct line to Charing Cross or Waterloo from Abbey Wood, Belvedere, or Erith stations, a reduction in the frequency of trains to London Bridge, and reduced services for residents who use Barnehurst, Bexleyheath, Plumstead, and Slade Green stations in neighbouring constituencies.

Ms Oppong-Asare has encouraged worried constituents to sign up to updates on her campaign against the cuts on her website, where they can find more information about her work. Constituents can also share their views on the cuts and bring any transport concerns they have to her attention.

Abena Oppong-Asare MP said:
“I am supporting residents who are calling for Southeastern to reverse the proposed cuts in services. Timetables need to work for constituents. There has been a lack
of consultation, cooperation, and engagement from Southeastern. Working with stakeholders and constituents, we will continue to fight for a reliable and well organised timetable that provides opportunities for all in Erith and Thamesmead and the South East.”