Rail operator slammed for snow cuts

PUBLISHED: 11:32 14 January 2010 | UPDATED: 17:30 25 August 2010

A RAIL operator was slammed over its service cuts during the cold spell by an MP who has complained to the Transport Minister.

A RAIL operator was slammed over its service cuts during the cold spell by an MP who has complained to the Transport Minister.

Eltham MP Clive Efford described Southeastern's cancellation of some evening services as "appalling and inadequate".

He said the reduced service meant that the last train from Charing Cross to Dartford via Bexleyheath and Eltham station leaves at 8.32pm. The last train from Charing Cross to New Eltham on the Sidcup Line leaves at 7:56pm. In a letter to Transport Minister, Lord Adonis, MP Clive Efford asked: "How can this be justified? A complete cancellation of services before 9pm is not acceptable.

"London Underground and the DLR are able to run a much fuller service and both of these run above the surface on a significant part of their routes. Southeastern seemed to have abandoned any notion of providing a reliable or practical service to its customers. The platform at Eltham is packed at rush hour," Mr Efford writes, "I had to let two trains go the other morning because there was no room and the platform did not look like it had been gritted making the service potentially dangerous."

He has written to the Transport Select Committee asking them to look into the response of all of the train operators to the weather chaos. A Southeastern spokesman said: "The decision to run a revised timetable last week was made based on the advice from Network Rail, who has responsibility for the track, and they decide what service we will be able to provide. They were out overnight with de-icing trains and we also ran ghost trains around the entire network in Kent, not just in London".

Parliamentary candidate for Eltham, David Gold, condemned the government's order to reduce salt gritting on roads by 25 per cent as "utterly disgraceful and irresponsible".

Mr Gold said: "It is further evidence that they are not properly prepared and have not planned appropriately for the predicted cold spell."

Lord Adonis said the cuts, announced last Friday, are necessary to keep the strategic road network open as the country braces itself for more bad weather, the worst in 29 years according to the Met Office.

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