Following concerns expressed by constituents John meets with company bosses.

John Whittingdale has met Tim Clarke, Managing Director of One railway, and Theo Steel, Projects Director to discuss the standard of service on the Crouch Valley line serving North Fambridge, Althorne, Burnham and Southminster.

John Whittingdale raised the problems caused to many commuters by the new timetable changes affecting the morning and evening service, as well as the cost of tickets and performance in comparison to the Southend service. In response, Mr Clarke assured him that the line was a key strategic railway and that there were no plans to close it. He said that the new timetable would be reviewed at the end of January and revisions introduced in June. He promised to take account of the concerns when the review takes place. Pictured here, John Whittingdale discusses the service with local Councillors, Peter Elliott, John Smith and Bob Boyce.

Following the meeting, John Whittingdale said: "I am pleased that Tim Clarke made clear that One regards the Crouch Valley line as a key strategic service and has absolutely no plans to close it. Mr Clarke explained that the recent changes to the timetable had had to be submitted to the Strategic Rail Authority quickly and so there was less time for consultation beyond the local authorities and rail user groups. However, he did say that the changes would be reviewed at the end of January with any revisions introduced in June. I have passed on to him the large number of complaints that I have had from constituents, particularly about the loss of the 0711 service from Southminster. Many people find the new 0735 service too late and so have to use the 0652 service, adding considerably to the length of their working day. Mr Clarke has promised to try to take account of these concerns in the review.

I welcome Mr Clarke's recognition that the cost of tickets is higher than on the Southend service and his agreement that this may need to be addressed, although I am disappointed if unsurprised that there appears no likelihood of any reduction in fares. I am also disappointed that there seems little immediate likelihood of obtaining a later train after the 2215 from Liverpool Street owing to the requirements of Network Rail
and the low number of users.

Finally, I also emphasised to Mr Clarke the concern felt by many that the Southminster service is treated as a poor relation and suffers disproportionately from cancellations or delays. I welcome Mr Clarke's assurance that this is not the case and that One will continue to make a special effort to protect the service on smaller lines like the Southminster branch."