Posts Tagged ‘National Rail delays’

I am thinking that my next novel should be called “A train too far” – perhaps it could be a fictional piece, or a combination of Tweets from commuters. Either way, no one would actually believe the events we endure on a daily basis are real, unless of course you are unfortunate enough to be a train commuter.

It seems the New Year has not encouraged resolutions with the train system, they are still as delayed or cancelled as previous years, only this time the excuses have become more imaginative. 

Some of you may remember in one of my recent posts regarding the fun I have trying to get to work by train. Due to the work on the DLR over Christmas and New Year, they were planning not to run services to any stations other than Victoria or Blackfriars – so the high number of people whose destination stations are Charing Cross, Cannon Street, London Bridge, Waterloo and so on, were pretty much…. well inconvenienced so say the least. Lucky for me I was off over the Christmas and New Year period, but if I hadn’t then it would have been a Christmas and New Year just trying to get from A to B spending longer away from the family over the festive period and perhaps having to cancel celebratory plans.

Who knew getting to work could be such a trial.

Well I can top that story as a few weeks ago it got worse due to a landslip in the Barnehurst area which rendered the Bexleyheath line unusable for several days. What did this mean for anyone using the Bexleyhealth line? Well it meant we either had to take a replacement bus service which was ten times longer in duration, pay for taxis knowing that the delay repay compensation would not cover the cost, or use our own cars and park in another train station that used a different train line, incurring extra expenses in fuel and car parking that again the delay repay would not cover. Not to mention the annoyance this would cause the regular commuters of the alternative train lines who would normally park in the stations’ carparks.

I would like to say that since then the trains have improved but if you go on my Twitter feed (@kjfoxhall) you will see that they have in comparison, but there are still continuous delays. So as you can imagine, this was enough to make commuters launch another petition.

I will say at this point that many of us know that Southeastern as not responsible for some of the delays, however they are not good at informing the people/organisations who are. If they did then we could direct our frustrations towards that organisation (i.e. Network Rail), but at the same time we pay Southeastern to provide us with an acceptable and safe service and what we are receiving is not acceptable. Safety is also questionable at times. If my client had an issue with a third party provider, it would be up to me to relay those issues and sort them out so my service and reputation was not affected. I think this escapes Southeastern at times – to the extent that they were voted as one of the top three worst providers (please see article below).

The petition successfully passed 10,000 signatures with ease and a response was received from the Government (also at the bottom of this post).

Why oh why did they bother?!?

The government basically did not sympathise with the commuters, they told us information we already knew and just generally fobbed us off saying that some commuters are unhappy with the service (I would go as far to say that most are unhappy), and how they were putting improvements into place… which they have been saying for years.

By the time we had received a response, the petition had reached over 14,000 signatures. If I was a company with that many against me I would do something about it.

For the petition to be read in Parliament, it would need to reach 100,000 signatures, so if you are frustrated and an angry commuter, please do sign it.

To put it into perspective, I was delayed by over 30 minutes on Thursday 4 February 2016 and 17 minutes the following Friday morning. This is a usual occurrence now and out of habit I have to leave much earlier in the morning to ensure I get to work on time, how do they think this is affecting my personal life? Oh right, they don’t think about it.

If the petition reaches 100,000 signatures, the petition Committee will consider it for a debate.

The Committee is made up of 11 MPs, from political parties in government and in opposition and it is entirely independent of the Government.

The Government’s response is below:

The industry is working hard to improve services and we are reforming passenger compensation. We are determined to provide the service passengers expect across the country.

We know that some passengers are very frustrated about the performance and the service they receive. We expect Southeastern to continue to work with Network Rail in order to minimise disruption and ensure services improve in 2016. The Department for Transport is closely monitoring the performance of the rail network across London and the South East and operators must inform customers properly when things go wrong.

As the Chancellor stated in his Autumn Statement, we are committed to reducing the time threshold for which passengers can claim from 30 minutes to 15 minutes, and the Department is gearing up to reform the compensation arrangements as set out in that commitment.

As part of our robust franchising programme, the current operator of Southeastern is delivering millions of pounds of investment to improve journeys, which includes:

• New high speed and classic services delivering more than 95,000 extra seats, including 1,000 extra seats on Southeastern’s High Speed services every day

• Refreshing 112 trains and updating toilets on a further 190 trains as well as improving accessibility by investing over £10 million in the train fleet over the franchise

• An obligation to improve stations by investing £4.8 million by 31 October 2016 and from January 2015 opening Cannon Street 21 hours a day with additional staff to assist passengers

• Extra staff will be available at stations as Southeastern have committed to ensuring that its gatelines are staffed for 90% in London and 70% of opening hours.

• The new £26m Rochester Station completion was opened on 13 December 2015 and forms part of the East Kent Re-signalling programme, an investment of £145m.

• Strood Station – a £2.6 million project to demolish the current 1960’s style station and replace it with a modern building – Work is due to start in Spring 2016 and to be completed by 2017.

• A programme to deep clean all Southeastern stations and a programme of station improvement works across the franchise.

Alongside this, our record investment in the railways, and the transformative work which the industry is doing on this part of the network, is essential in building a world-class railway, providing more services and better journeys. We understand that passengers are concerned about performance and the service they receive, however we know that Southeastern are working together with Network Rail in order to minimise disruption and to recover services faster where infrastructure failures occur. We would like this work to continue in order that service improvements continue. Southeastern have been working on their fleet of trains to improve capacity in the Metro area, and the Department for Transport is working with Southeastern to look at whether additional capacity can be introduced in the near term and improve the service for passengers.

This Government has long recognised the importance of improving the performance of train operators, and through Network Rail we committed to seeing £38 billion invested in the rail network, and the hugely ambitious infrastructure projects such as Crossrail and HS2, as well the transformation of London Bridge.

We closely monitor the performance of both the operators and Network Rail, and incentivise their performance through the Franchise Agreements and Track Access Agreements. Whilst we understand the frustration felt by all constituents affected by any delay, we would like to assure you that the Department for Transport is determined to see further improvements and provide the service that passengers expect.

trains delays

Here are some entertaining articles from when the landslip happened, all of which are pure fiction:

Southeastern trains boss: I’m sorry for recent delays

Thameslink, Southeastern trains, and Southern rail voted worst in Britain by passengers

And as an adieu dear readers, here are some bags parked in Welling station. I do hope they paid for those parking spaces, until that time 10 lucky commuters are walking to the station.