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Transport minister and Norfolk MP launches furious rant at train company

PUBLISHED: 20:00 06 August 2019 | UPDATED: 08:17 07 August 2019

Transport minister and Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman.  Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Transport minister and Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Archant

A transport minister and Norfolk MP has launched a furious rant after a platform worker instructed a train to depart, despite seeing him running towards it.

George Freeman said he was left "stranded for an hour" because the 9.09am Greater Anglia service from Cambridge to Attleborough on Tuesday morning was not held up for him.

The Tory MP described how he was one of five passengers who "sprinted" along the platform after a connecting service from London King's Cross was delayed.

He expressed his frustration in a series of tweets to Greater Anglia, stating that the member of staff responsible for dispatching trains could see them running but chose to close the doors and instruct the driver to depart.

The worker then "smirked and ignored us", the MP for Mid Norfolk added.

Greater Anglia replied that "in most cases" it cannot hold trains when services run by other operators are late.

Mr Freeman responded: "Not even for 15 seconds when passengers from a connection are AT THE DOOR?!"

The company apologised and accepted "there should have been some discretion".

Describing the situation, Mr Freeman said: "I was on my way to the funeral of Jan Godfrey, who was a major figure in Watton. The train from King's Cross to Cambridge was a bit late, six minutes, but they didn't tell us it was late. You have to change at Cambridge to get the Norwich-bound train, and on this occasion and you usually have about 10 minutes to change. "But on this occasion, there were about five or six of us that got our and we literally ran.

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"As we got to the train, the guard stood there holding a white cone and blew the whistle. We said 'look, is there no way we can get on?' He said: 'Sorry, the next train is in an hour'. It was unbelievable.

"Terrible customer service. Fifteen seconds is all it would have taken.

"Then I called the customer service desk and they said it was none of their business."

Mr Freeman added: ""People often think government ministers live in an ivory tower.

"I think it's important, as the new minister at DfT for Transport Connectivity, that Network Rail, train operators and passengers, taxpayers, and my constituents know that my first duty and instinct is to represent the needs of passengers on our rail and other transport networks. Not the other way around.

"Today's lack of connectivity - leaving several of us stranded at Cambridge for an hour - was a simple issue of lack of information, integration and basic customer service. We all need to remember that the service is paid for by, and should be run for, passengers. I intend to speak up for them "

The MP said it was a "huge honour" when he was appointed as a transport minister by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last month.

His portfolio includes technology, innovation, decarbonisation and connectivity.

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