Transport

People’s Question Time on Cycling: Wednesday 23 April 2014

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Chuka will be chairing a People’s Question Time event on cycling on Wednesday 23 April at 7pm at The Grand Union Bar in Acre Lane. This event is an opportunity for local residents to raise concerns directly with those responsible for issues such as cycling safety, infrastructure and support.

Representatives from Lambeth Council and Transport for London have been invited to speak at the event, and the Cycling Commissioner Andrew Gilligan, the Metropolitan Police Cycle Taskforce Safety lead, and a representative of Lambeth cyclists, have all agreed to speak on the panel.

This People’s Question Time is open to all and there is no need to RSVP. Chuka’s People’s Question Time events are designed as an opportunity for local residents to raise any concerns they have about a particular issue, in this case cycling.

If you have any queries about this event, please see the contact page of this website for how to get in touch. 

 

 

- Food and drink is available for purchase at the venue. Please remember not to drink and drive.

Travel Update – Monday 28th October: First Capital Connect Service Alterations Due To Extreme Weather

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

Chuka has just received this update for constituents from First Capital Connect on their services:

Following advice from Network Rail we are not expected to run any trains on the entire network from Sunday 24:00 until it has been declared safe to do so, which is likely to be after 09:00 Monday 28th October. This will allow the Network Rail and FCC teams to check the railway in the early hours and ensure it is safe to run trains from after 9am on Monday, as there could be fallen tree branches, debris on tracks and third rail or overhead lines.

Once the lines re-open, we will run a much reduced service. Travelling will be difficult and we are advising our customers not to travel unless it’s absolutely necessary. We are keeping our website updated with the latest travel information, have updated all the station screens, have issued updates to our twitter followers and have also issued direct messages to over 15,000 registered customers.

Updates and further information from First Capital Connect can be found on their website or by clicking on this link

Thameslink: Chuka comments on the National Audit Office report

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Commenting on the National Audit Office report on Thameslink, Streatham MP Chuka Umunna said:

“I made it absolutely clear to the government that when it comes to our Transport links, nothing less than a dramatic improvement of the status quo is acceptable – We still don’t have a tube, and everyone locally knows that far too often Streatham gets missed off the list when it comes to transport improvements. That approach is totally wrong and it is a grave disservice to our area.

“On Thameslink, I made four demands of ministers, that they u-turn so we keep the cross London service, that the frequency of trains increases, that we get longer trains so we get less overcrowding, and that we get the new trains the government are buying. They only caved in to two of our demands, u-turning to allow us to keep our current through-London service and promising us new trains.

The Government has had three years to agree the contract for new trains and their failure to do so is now putting at risk the planned 2018 delivery date for Thameslink. Now the National Audit Office has outlined the scale of its concern, Ministers must make sure they don’t break yet another promise and that we get the new trains they promised on time. Anything less would be beyond unacceptable. “

Works at Streatham Hill Station: Message to Residents

Monday, February 11th, 2013

In just under two months time, from Sunday 7th April, Network Rail will be carrying out work to extend platform two at Streatham Hill Station, designed to allow longer trains with more seats to stop at the station and help to relieve overcrowding.

We all know that our train service is not as good as it should be, and I am very supportive of efforts to improve our local transport. However, I am keen to ensure that the disruption caused by these works is kept at an absolute minimum.

The main construction work will be undertaken from April through to early June, as set out in the provisional programme below. Network Rail has informed me that work will take place at weekends, designed in this way so as to minimise disruption. Unfortunately, there will be no trains running from the station on Sunday April 7th, 21st and 28th, nor on Sunday 19th May or Sunday 2nd June, and a rail replacement bus service will run instead.

Network Rail have provided me with a number of assurances that the work will be done in such a way as to minimise disruption for local residents and passengers, that most of the work will be done behind hoardings, separate from the operational station, and therefore not requiring changes to the usual train timetable, and that no road closures will be required.

My purpose in writing this post is to appeal to every local resident, business and service user to alert me as soon as possible – please see the contact page of my website for details of how to do so – if you are experiencing any adversity because of these works, or if you feel that any of the assurances given to me concerning these works are not being met, so that I am able to raise your concerns with Network Rail.

Current Provisional Programme of Works:

Dates

Current Provisional Programme of works

From

To

04.00 Sun.

07

-

04.00

Mon. 08 April Construction of platform bases and signal installation
04.00 Sun.

21

-

04.00

Mon. 22 April Installation of platform units and signalling works
04.00 Sun.

28

-

04.00

Mon. 29 April Platform copers
04.00 Sun.

19

-

04.00

Mon. 20 May Complete platform surfaces and electrical works
04.00 Sun.

02

-

04.00

Mon. 06 June Completion of outstanding items

 

I am very glad that some of the much needed work to improve our train service is being done, but I am determined that the impact on local residents, businesses and passengers is kept to an absolute minimum. I would be very grateful to you if you would get in touch with any concerns you have about how these works are being carried out. If you have any questions or concerns about this work that you would like to raise directly with Network Rail, you can contact them using their 24-Hour National Helpline on 08457 11 41 41.

Please note that Network Rail plan for some initial preparatory work, such as platform wiring, to be carried out on weekend evenings in February, but they have assured me this should not be noisy or disruptive. Again, if residents, businesses or passengers, do not find this to be the case, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Thanks and best wishes,

Chuka

Chuka Umunna MP
Member of Parliament for Streatham
covering Streatham and parts of Clapham, Balham, Tulse Hill and Brixton
Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation &Skills

www.chuka.org.uk | www.twitter.com/ChukaUmunna

 

Thameslink: Local MP Gives ‘Half-Marks’ to Government Decision

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Streatham MP Chuka Umunna has said the government deserve half-marks on Thameslink as the government bow to community pressure to keep a through-London service running but rule out running more trains per hour.

Mr Umunna has been campaigning on the need to improve and maintain the Thameslink service since 2008, before he was elected as the MP for the Streatham parliamentary constituency, when he set up the Save Our South West London Thameslink Services campaign to protest against the proposals.

This Summer Mr Umunna appealed ‘to as many members of the community as possible to respond to the government’s consultation’ as part of a final push to secure the future of Thameslink services. The government revealed today that 2,200 people had responded to the consultation to say they were in favour of retaining the through-London service.

Mr Umunna set four key tests for the government to meet on the future of Thameslink services, saying that the status quo was not acceptable. Whilst the government announced good news that the through-London service would be maintained, there will also be disappointment at the government’s announcement that the frequency of Thameslink services running through Streatham, Tulse Hill and the rest of the Wimbledon loop will not be increased.

  1. That a through London Service be maintained so that commuters from Streatham, Tulse Hill, and the other stations along the Wimbledon loop do not find that their trains terminate at Blackfriars
  2. That the frequency of Thameslink services running through Streatham, Tulse Hill and the rest of the Wimbledon loop is increased to increase capacity.
  3. That longer trains can run through Streatham, Tulse Hill and the rest of the Wimbledon loop, to decrease overcrowding.
  4. That new trains are provided for services running through Streatham, Tulse Hill and the rest of the Wimbledon Loop.

The government is yet to announce whether new or longer trains will be provided for services running through Streatham, Tulse Hill and the rest of the Wimbledon Loop.

Commenting, Chuka Umunna MP, said:

“This announcement today will be brilliant news for every member of our community and an absolute relief for all those who took part in the massive community campaign to maintain our through-London service. The possibility that our through-London service might be cut was always an absurd proposition so the most I can give the government for this announcement is half-marks but what we really need is newer, longer, more frequent trains.

“The fact that the government ignored all calls for extra trains to run from the station, and they still haven’t come forward as to whether we’ll get the longer, new trains that would help reduce overcrowding, is not satisfactory at all. However, I don’t want to take away from all those who campaigned so hard since we started this in 2008.

“Our community should celebrate this victory of sorts but I won’t stop campaigning for newer, longer, more frequent trains. I hope the government is starting to learn they can’t treat the transport needs of my constituents with the contempt they’ve shown up to now.” 

Click here to read the government announcement.

Crucial decision on Thameslink commuter train services imminent

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Transport Minister Simon Burns has confirmed that Ministers will decide on the future of Thameslink commuter train services to South West London imminently Streatham MP Chuka Umunna has learnt.

The government’s upcoming decision on the future of the Thameslink franchise, currently operated by First Capital Connect has been hugely controversial.  Many thousands of commuters face losing their cross London commuter train service from stations in Streatham and Tulse Hill in Lambeth and other stations along the whole of the Wimbledon loop including Tooting, Mitcham, Wimbledon and Merton, which connects South West London to the City, St Pancras International and Luton airport.

Mr Umunna has been campaigning on the need to improve and maintain the Thameslink service since 2008, before he was elected as the MP for the Streatham parliamentary constituency.  In 2008 he set up the Save Our South West London Thameslink Services campaign and Facebook group to protest against the proposals.

Mr Umunna met with the Minister of State for Transport, Simon Burns, this week. Contrary to some reports, the Minister said no decision has been reached about the future of Thameslink Services yet.  However, during their meeting the Minister confirmed that Network Rail and the Franchise operator, First Capital Connect, will shortly be making a recommendation to Ministers who will then decide on the future of the Thameslink Service.  The Minister said a decision and an announcement on the future of the Wimbledon loop would be made “shortly.”  Mr Umunna expects a decision shortly before or after the Christmas break.

With regard to the future of Thameslink services, Mr Umunna has said ‘nothing less than a dramatic improvement of the status quo is acceptable’. He has set out four key tests for Ministers to meet when they make their decision. These are:

  1. That a cross London Service be maintained so that commuters from Streatham, Tulse Hill and the other stations along the Wimbledon loop do not find that their trains terminate at Blackfriars;
  2. That the frequency of Thameslink services running through Streatham, Tulse Hill and the rest of the Wimbledon loop is increased to increase capacity;
  3. That longer trains can run through Streatham, Tulse Hill and the rest of the Wimbledon loop, to reduce overcrowding; and,
  4. That new trains are provided for services running through Streatham, Tulse Hill and the rest of the Wimbledon Loop.

Commenting, Chuka Umunna MP said:

“With regard to the future of Thameslink Services, nothing less than a dramatic improvement on the status quo is acceptable. As I keep telling transport ministers, losing our cross-London Thameslink service should be kicked off the agenda.  Instead, what we want is a vast improvement on the service we are currently putting up with – which are trains that are old, overcrowded, and don’t run frequently enough.

“My constituents have suffered enough and are clear on what they expect – a cross London service with better, roomier, more frequent and newer trains.”


Time to Secure Compensation from Network Rail: Submitting a Claim

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

I remain absolutely determined to ensure that those businesses that have suffered from Network Rail’s disgraceful handling of the works at Streatham Common Station receive the proper compensation they deserve as soon as humanly possible. I hope all affected businesses have now received the information my office has been distributing about making a claim to Network Rail for compensation – if not, please don’t hesitate to contact me immediately.

If you have the information but have not yet submitted your claim, I would encourage you to do this as soon as you can. I would appreciate it if you would let me know when you submit claims, and when you receive a response, so that if there is any delay whatsoever in the process I can do everything I can to ensure that Network Rail pay the compensation our community deserves.

I will not give up until our businesses get their due from Network Rail.

Chuka

 

Compensation for local businesses – UPDATE

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

I wanted to provide a quick update as I have now received a partial response from Network Rail following the two emails I posted on Friday.

Claim form - I pointed out that the claim form they sent was not applicable to the circumstances. They confirmed that this is the form they use in all cases of loss (and ask businesses only to fill out the relevant parts). However, they have agreed that in this case businesses can at this stage write to them setting out their circumstances instead.

Proof requested – Network Rail had asked that businesses submit proof of loss in the form of “invoices, receipts, [and] quotations” – I pointed out this was totally inappropriate for most of the businesses affected. Network Rail have now agreed that if businesses prefer they can also provide them with figures of businesses’ takings for the whole of this month and for the equivalent month in the previous two years.

Specialist contact - At my request they have now provided a named individual (with an email address and phone number) for all compensation claims. If your business has been affected please contact my office who will be able to pass you this information.

I will post another update as soon as Network Rail have responded further to the points I raised in my last email to them (particularly about their criteria for compensation and the timescales for dealing with the claims), but please feel free to continue to contact me directly.

Click to read Network Rail’s unacceptable response regarding Streatham Vale

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Further to my meeting with some of Network Rail’s Senior Officials on Wednesday, I have received the email below. I am sure constituents will appreciate that, as a substantive reply, their email is nowhere near acceptable, and will not provide the relief the local area deserves.  My response to Network Rail’s email today is immediately underneath.

Chuka.

Network Rail’s latest email:

“Thank you for your patience in waiting for this response. As promised, I wanted to come back to you today to update you on our progress in addressing the concerns that you raised with us at our meeting on Wednesday. As we acknowledged during our meeting, we fully recognise that our engagement with the community and particularly local businesses ahead of our work at Streatham Common did not meet the standards that we aspire to. We are grateful for the recognition that the work itself will deliver significant benefits for the area but we absolutely recognise the disruption it is causing and we are committed to being as responsive as we can from this point forward.

When we met you raised the issue of financial compensation for local businesses. As we set out in our meeting, we do not routinely provide compensation to businesses affected by our work sites unless we are legally obliged to do so. We did however undertake to supply our claim form and the accompanying cover letter in order that businesses who feel they may be entitled to compensation can apply. These are attached. At your request we also undertook to provide a single point of contact for local businesses seeking compensation. This contact is [Network Rail officer], who has agreed to handle all claims from businesses affected by this work. [Our Network Rail officer] can be contacted at [email].I hope you will understand that I am not in a position to offer any guarantees on this matter but the claims we receive will be helpful in allowing us to judge the extent of the impact our work is having and highlighting where mitigation measures may be most valuable.

We are, however, sympathetic to the situation that the local businesses in Streatham are in and, if there are any other measures that businesses feel we can take to help then we would, of course consider them. Over the weekend posters will also go up at the station to inform people that the businesses on Greyhound Lane are open as usual in order to encourage as much passing foot traffic as possible. I recognise that this is a very small measure but I hope it is helpful. Further to your advice, our project team have also now been in touch with Woodmansterne Primary School, in addition to Granton Primary School to discuss what we could do to reduce the impact of disruption for pupils and parents.

Turning to the other issues that you raised with us, including the need for an apology to the community for our unacceptable lack of engagement before the works began, I can confirm that a letter of apology will be issued next week. This will also include an invitation to another public meeting in December that we have now arranged to offer local people a chance to raise concerns and be updated on our work.

Finally, you raised with us the issue of over-crowded shuttle buses at peak times before and after school. We have subsequently asked Transport for London to supply us with data about the general usage of the shuttle buses and we are looking at the feasibility of running additional services before and after school.

I recognise that the above is very much the beginning of our work to rectify our earlier lack of engagement on this work and would like to reiterate our commitment to communicating better with the local community throughout the work. I will, of course, continue to keep you updated on progress.”

My Response:

Thank you for your email which I am afraid to say is not at all satisfactory.  I have a number of questions at first reading:

  1. Can you confirm this is the correct form?  It seems to be targeted towards a specific accident or incident and refer to lost goods rather than lost trade.  This form will be very hard for the businesses to engage with meaningfully.  Can you confirm this is the same form completed by larger companies in the affected area?  In the circumstances, could you explain why this form has been felt most appropriate rather than one far more suited to the situation faced by the shops?
  2. Although you do not usually compensate where not legally obliged to do so, the impression given at our meeting was that if businesses can demonstrate they have suffered a loss due to the works you would look to compensate.  The email below seems simply to suggest that you are committed to providing a claim form, but suggests you will only compensate when legally obliged to do so (regardless of whether the businesses have suffered a loss as a result of the works). I would be grateful for immediate clarification.
  3. In the meeting I asked for a commitment regarding the timeframe in which the claims from the businesses would be processed.  The letter attached suggests the forms would be acknowledged within 14 days (which is an excessive wait for an acknowledgement in these circumstances) and gives no further indication of timetable.  Can you confirm how long the claims will take to be acknowledged and processed?
  4. The letter asks for proof of loss in the form of “invoices, receipts, [and] quotations”.  I presume in cases such as this, when it is loss of trade that is the issue, it is proof of previous and current trading figures that are required – as I’m not sure how invoices, receipts or quotations would be applicable. Again, it would be helpful if you could provide further information that will allow the shops to understand what they are being asked and make a claim.
  5. Another issue discussed at the meeting was the criteria Network Rail intend to use to assess the level of compensation; would it be possible to provide full details of this?
  6. Could you please provide a phone contact for [your Network Rail officer] in order for the shops to contact [your Network Rail officer] by phone? I know that some of the local businesses do not use email.

I look forward to hearing from you urgently, as the information emailed and attached to the email does not reflect our meeting earlier in the week and seems in no way adequate to help the businesses in claiming compensation for their losses, nor does it reflect the gravity of the situation they are facing.

Kind regards,

Chuka

 

 

 

New Update on Streatham Vale: My Meeting with Network Rail

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Local residents will be aware of the awful problems there are with the platform extension being carried out by Network Rail at Streatham Common Station and the associated closure of the Greyhound Lane Bridge.

This morning I met with three senior officials from Network Rail to discuss the appalling situation. Some of you living locally may be aware that already people have lost their jobs and that businesses are suffering from a severe loss of takings. It’s taking hours for kids to get to school, there have been serious concerns about the traffic plans network rail put in place, and the communications effort from Network Rail has been appalling.

Following advice from the Health and Safety Inspectorate, I am told that the traffic management situation is now resolved. However, if anybody has any fears, or any doubts at all, that this is the case, please contact me as soon as possible. Network Rail also assured me that they are looking in to how to increase capacity on the replacement bus services, particularly at peak times including the end of the school day.

While I hope Network Rail are now finally getting to grips with the situation, this will not make up for the fact of what has gone wrong, and I have demanded that Network Rail issue an apology as soon as possible to everyone who has been adversely affected.

For those who have lost their jobs, this will of course be of little comfort. I am determined that everything possible is done to protect the businesses in the area who are suffering from dramatically lowered footfall. For this, compensation is absolutely essential.

I told Network Rail in no uncertain terms that they should immediately create a single point of contact for businesses and make sure that local businesses receive all the information they need to get the compensation they deserve. Network Rail seemed finally to have understood that they have made mistakes and seem willing to put it right – whether they compensate businesses affected will be the key.

I share the strong feelings so many of you have conveyed to me about this. I will not rest until Network Rail have resolved these problems and until the local businesses who have worked so hard to survive the recession can get redress.

To report any concerns whatsoever to me, particularly about safety, please see my contact page for details of how to get in touch.