Here’s the status on southeastern’s lines as I write this. Another awful day for the company. I never had many problems with them for a long time. That has all changed since the spring. An evening rush hour train to Gillingham from London Bridge that had been 8 carriages for years suddenly became 6 carriages. This is cut back to 4 increasingly often due to ‘train maintenance’ problems. It’s nowhere near enough. It’s a scrum getting on and awful inside. Even when the electronic display shows 6 coaches 4 turn up. Cancellations have also shot up.
Southeastern tell me that the reason for the short formed trains and cancellations are due to fitting de-icing equipment on trains. They did this over the summer as apparently there’s less people using trains. Well it’s now September and the short trains are more than ever. And if this is the reason why is there nothing at all on their website explaining it? There is never any information about the increasing train problems. There’s no reasons, there’s no timescale about when it should be finished and why it’s taking so long.
It’s the latest in a long line of crap communications. I notice a lot of people complaining on twitter and I hope people don’t leave it at that, and I would urge everyone to write to their MPs and London travelwatch here and passengerfocus here. Passenger focus were good when I used them a couple of years ago with First Great Western. That company were abysmal in 2007, and passengers organised a fare strike enlisting good media coverage. This pressure eventually resulted in the government threatening to take the franchise away and ordering First to spend £29 million improving things. Something similar must happen with southeastern.
With the olympics next year and southeastern recently given a 2 year extension I doubt the government has the stomach to fight them, but something has to be tried and hopefully more can be done to pressure politicians and watchdogs.