Having joined the ranks of commuters travelling to London from our various railway stations in West Horndon, Ingatestone, Brentwood and Shenfield I’m well aware that, although the trains mostly run on time, there is, at times, some considerable frustration when trains are delayed, replaced by buses or just don’t turn up.
We are nearing the end of the disruption caused by the work necessary to bring Crossrail to the constituency – and I admire the patience of those whose lives have been affected for some considerable time.
After a number of complaints about erratic service from constituents, last month I met representatives from Greater Anglia and Network Rail to find out why trains are so often delayed.
They told me that there are three main causes for delays to the train timetable: train failure, infrastructure problems and “external failure” which can range from bad weather, to passenger deaths, to bird strikes on overhead cables. I understand Greater Anglia, Network Rail and TfL are working closely together to improve track and signalling between here and London, which are often the cause of delays, while Greater Anglia is bringing in some impressive new trains to offer greater comfort on the service.
In Westminster, the Rail Minister has been leading discussions with industry and consumer bodies about introducing a Rail Ombudsman to give passengers a louder voice in dealing with the rail companies to create independent binding resolution of complaints.
Work on the detail of the scheme, which is being developed by a Task Force including the Rail Delivery Group, Transport Focus, London TravelWatch and the Office of Rail and Road, is progressing. I've been told the Minister hopes to provide a further update on the Task Force's work by the end of the summer.
I know that troublesome commutes can be thoroughly dispiriting, what with the disruption to both work and family life, so if you are experiencing any regular travel problems please do feel free to bring them to my attention and contact me through www.alexburghart.org.uk