“Independently audited” PPM stats from Southeastern: Lies

Yes, a rather brazen subject, and something that could, if the numbers can work that way, could be wrong.

However this: if Southeastern can provide the independent audit document, associated numbers, and an additionally independent source to verify these numbers, then I’ll happily donate £250 (the money I saved by not buying an annual ticket last year) to the charity of their choice.

So let’s begin.

We have already covered that the Period 9 and Period 8 posters show the same stats by line of route, to one decimal place: https://www.drta.org.uk/112/ppm-posters-what-can-you-trust/

Today our contact at Southeastern (‘Public Affairs Manager’) contacted us affirming that the both posters are indeed accurate, and to quote:

Regarding your recent tweets,performance figures are independently audited and we are satisfied they are accurate.”

So let’s break this down:

The Period 8 poster at Dartford:


Overall: 82.2%
Mainline: 80.7%
HS: 80.9%
Metro: 83.3%

The ‘Period 9’ poster at Charing Cross:


Overall: 80.9%
Mainline: 80.71%
HS: 80.85%
Metro: 83.32%

Those numbers are very similar, right?

Of course they are. because they are the same

Apart from Overall – which has fallen by 1.3%

So let’s take a 90;10 split Mainline:HS) to get an average of that for each period we get:
Period 8 (Mainline, HS 90:10): 80.72%
Period 9: 80.88%

Imagine if that split worked, and it was then an equal split of (mainline+HS1):metro, then:
equates X at 0.426

Let’s do this for ‘Period 9’:

equates X at 0.99

So the weighting for mainline, if the ‘indepedently audited’ poster for Period 9 is correct, has increased by 232% in favour of mainline over metro. Which is the only way the overall figure can decrease

Which must be a VERY significant decrease in Metro services during Period 9

Now, we all know that there wasn’t a significant decrease in Metro, even if Southeastern wanted to count out some trains through emergency timetables etc. (I can’t recall any)


I can only conclude that, as cited before, the posters that Southeastern have posted for ‘Period 9’ are inaccurate, not representative of the truth, and not independently audited.


As stated above, I am very happy to be proved wrong. In fact I hope I can be proved wrong, because if not, then Southeastern are breaking their franchise agreement by not posting up the correct stats at stations. And also breaking their own passenger charter.


So how about this Southeastern, prove me wrong since you’re “satisfied they are accurate”, and I’ll happily donate £250 to the charity of your choice.

Or if you can’t, let’s be fair about this, and donate the same amount to a charity of my choosing?

It’s only fair, right?


Over to you…

PPM posters – what can you trust?

So today, on my quest to find out the Period 9 (15 Nov – 12 Dec) figures, I saw a poster at Charing Cross station showing what I thought was this period’s figures! At last, partial data to update my table:


However, when I put it into my table, and compared the results of Period 9 with Period 8, I got a bit of a surprise…the results were identical!

This is what the Southeastern site reports for Period 8:


And side by side:


After being advised to talk to our contact at Southeastern when I queried this on Twitter the response we received was that the ‘marketing team’ will ‘check and amend as necessary’.

Given our mistrust in performance figures already, it’s a let down that Southeastern are putting posters out that have mistruths in.

Of course if, given the very low statistical chance, I’m wrong – then I’m happy to be corrected…and if not: the marketing team really need to do better with representing what happened on the railway, and not ‘market’.

More importantly, the PPM of 80.9% (so that’s 80.9% of trains that arrived within 5 minutes of their timetabled time), is the lowest since April 2015 – the previous being 82.2% in Period 8 (the 4 weeks before).

I’ll post the latest comparison once Southeastern update their website with the targets, and what they actually achieved.

UPDATE 05/01/2016: Period 8 is still up at Dartford – both columns are the same as the Period 9 poster that’s at Charing Cross – however the method of rounding numbers is diffferent…where they’ve rounded to one decimal place, then added a 0 for the second decimal place. Maybe some remedial maths classes are in order too…


London Bridge (SouthEastern side) major closures

At the Dartford / Kent Council Joint Transportation Board on 16 September 2015, it was clear from questions posed by councillors of the SouthEastern rep that there was surprise that there would be a London Bridge blockade for an extended period over Christmas/New Year 2015. (A blockade is railspeak for no trains running – so London Bridge SouthEastern side, Waterloo East, Charing Cross and Cannon Street will all be closed). Later discussions revealed that this had been a surprise in the higher echelons of DfT and even for the rail minister.

It was no surprise to your author – in fact, I was expecting it. How come ?? Network Rail made a presentation at the InfraRail 2014 conference and exhibition, held at Earl’s Court from May 20-22 2014, about the London Bridge rebuild. This is an event for suppliers and customers in the rail infrastructure business. Not an area I work in, but handily the slides for this presentation are available online here. I’ve been correlating the changes at each major blockade since January 2015 with slides 84-94 of the presentation, so now it’s pretty clear when there will have to be major blockades in the future, as these slides have a timeline for each stage between January 2015 and mid-2018.

So, let’s look at what’s been happening so far, and see what the major changes will be in the future and when they’re likely to happen. I’m just looking at the major blockades during the holiday periods (Xmas/New Year, Easter, the May Bank Holidays and August) – there will certainly be ongoing disruption on many weekends to get the work done.

I don’t want to risk breaching anyone’s copyright, or go through the hassle of getting a release, so rather than copying the diagrams into this post, I’d ask you to refer to the presentation slide deck pdf referenced above for the relevant diagrams.

It’s “only” 11 slides, and we start off at page 84 of the pdf.

This (as the note on the slide says) was the time that Charing Cross/Waterloo East trains commenced non-stop running through London Bridge, and as we see from the timeline this phase starts in early January 2015. Whilst lots of tracks were taken out of use (including the line through platform 6) no running lines were moved.

Now we move onto page 85, and after the first major blockade over Easter 2015, the layout looked like this. You’ll see the timeline starts in mid-Q2 2015, which matches Easter quite nicely.

At London Bridge, the “up” line to Waterloo East and Charing Cross was moved right across to run along the line for the old platform 5, and then cut across part of the old platform 5/6 that had been demolished to cross the (old) Borough viaduct. Back by the South-East London Heat & Power plant, the lines across the southern viaduct were taken out of use so that demolition could commence for the Bermondsey diveunder (the “track untangling” for Thameslink trains as the project team describe it)

Page 86 shows the layout after the recent blockade over the August Bank Holiday weekend 2015 – the rest of the Charing Cross lines are moved across to the renewed tracks 3 and 4, and a new crossover is put in over to the west of Ewer Street Junction (over to the far left of the layout)

Moving onto page 87, we see “Stage 2a” and that this starts in January 2016 – so the change between the previous layout and this will occur over the coming Christmas/New Year blockade. The new viaduct comes into use, 3 new tracks through the station come into use. A major change in the track layout – so it’s pretty obvious this will be an extensive blockade.

Lots of work goes on within London Bridge then until August 2016 and page 88, when 3 new platforms come into use for Charing Cross services, and the Cannon Street lines start making use of 2 more new tracks through the station, without stopping. The concourse downstairs partially opens, and construction access is now from Tooley Street to the north. We can, therefore, expect another major closure for the August 2016 Bank Holiday weekend.

This phase carries on into 2017, with nothing shown on the Xmas/New Year slot, so there possibly won’t be a major blockade.

Page 89 looks like Easter 2017 – no change to stopping patterns, but the Cannon Street trains move to the new lines through the station, so again we should be expecting a blockade then. The first line through the Bermondsey diveunder, on the Southern side, comes into use as well.

No changes across to page 90 – it’s just that the construction of the Bermondsey Diveunder completes at the end of Q2 2017 so the rest of the track laying then starts.

Page 91 sees the Charing Cross services starting to use the Diveunder in Q4 2017, and the 4th Charing Cross platform at London Bridge comes into use. This looks like it may be August Bank Holiday that year – we shall see !!

Just more tracklaying noted on page 92 – maybe this Xmas/New year break (2017/18) won’t be too disrupted, although there’s lots of work to get the new Thameslink lines ready and Cannon Street services start calling at London Bridge again, as shown on pages 93/94. During the first half of 2018, it all goes “live”, Thameslink trains start running through London Bridge again – not only to Bedford (as previously), but also Cambridge.

So – hopefully this will give people a clue about what’s likely to happen over the major holidays through to 2018, and why. Comment here or discuss on our Facebook group.

iPad rollout for Southeastern drivers

Around a month ago, during a delayed morning commute where the driver knew less than the passengers could get from their smartphones, I asked Southeastern why the drivers weren’t using the iPads that have been rolled out.

Here’s a selection of the responses received:

IMG_7982 IMG_7983 IMG_7985

…which lead me to question the intent of the tablets, filing (what isn’t really) an FOI request

The response came back today and is detailed below:

Dear Mr Rogers,

Thank you for your email of 19 August regarding Southeastern drivers and the introduction of tablet computers; I have been asked to respond.

The concerns you raise are not requests for information held. Therefore I am not responding under the Freedom of Information Act, but am answering as we would any concern raised by a member of the public.

Train drivers must comply with all relevant with health and safety law, and work in accordance with their licence and training.

The benefits and use of tablets for drivers include

Prior to setting off tablets can be used for:
– Reviewing operating notices
– Reading email updates including information about train running, incidents, CSL core messages
– Training

In the cab, (in accordance with all relevant Health and Safety legislation) tablets & other mobile devices can be used to:
– Contact their control office for support
– Contact the signaller or their control office during an emergency incident
– Contact the signaller when other forms of communication are not available.
– Access live running information

At all times, the health and safety of passengers, members of the public and staff are the first priority.

The proposal for the use of such technology was made by the franchisee during the negotiations for the Direct Award. In directly awarded franchise agreements such as this one, activities such as this proposed by the operator are contractualised in order to ensure their delivery.

Thank you for taking the time to write to the Department.

Kind regards
Alistair Hobbs
Deputy Head of Correspondence Rail Executive – Passenger Service


So…it wasn’t the DfT that required that Southeastern drivers have tablets…it was something that Southeastern suggested formed part of their franchise agreement!

Around 5 years ago, a similar scheme was instigated, Blackberry devices were provided to drivers with the intention that this would improve customer communication in the event of delays/incidents and in the end were not used (I found this ASLEF link, there might be others )

Section 4.2 of the franchise agreement states:

The Franchisee shall ensure that any Franchisee Employee to which a Train Crew Tablet is deployed is appropriately trained to use the Train Crew Tablet and such Train Crew Tablet is used for the purpose of improving communications with and between such Franchise Employees and facilitating improved customer service and information provision

If the driver can’t use the tablet once the train, then how can customer service and information provision be improved once the train has left the station and encountered the inevitable problem along the line?

It feels like this addition to the franchise agreement is more for having something to show and shout about (free chocolate, water, magazines etc.) than something that will make a change to the daily lives of those using Southeastern railway services.

In the meantime, our community on Facebook do a great job of letting each other know about delays when they happen, so keep an eye out on the Facebook group before you leave home/work!

An Open Letter to Gareth Johnson, MP for Dartford and Claire Perry, Rail Minister

Re: Southeastern performance at Dartford constituency railway stations

Dear Gareth Johnson, Claire Perry,

Over the reporting periods since April 2015, Southeastern have failed to meet their punctuality targets:
P1 (April): 92.0% target, achieved 89.9%2015aug-performance
P2 (May): 92.6% target, achieved 90.3%
P3 (June): 93.2% target, achieved 91.2%
P4 (July): 93.2% target, achieved 87.9%
P5 (August): 93.2% target, achieved 89.8%


Across the Dartford lines a similar pattern has emerged too
As bad as a target of 92% for the Sidcup line in P4, performing at only 84.8%
…and in the same period on the Woolwich line, only performing at 83.2% against a target of 92.7%

In the last reporting period for Dartford trains, targets, and actual achieved performance were:
HS1: 94.4% – achieved 83.9% (-10.5%)
Bexleyheath line: 92.4%- achieved 89.0% (-3.4%)
Sidcup line: 92% – achieved 90.3% (-1.7%)
Charlton/Lewisham line: 92.2% – achieved 89.3% (-2.9%)
Woolwich line: 92.7% – achieved 90.0% (-2.7%)

In September 2014 when the direct award to Govia/LSER was announced, we were promised better services, improved reliability, and tough performance targets.

We have also had a new timetable imposed on us since January, with adjustments to take into account the Thameslink works in the London Bridge area, adding additional minutes on to our journey…on top of the extra minutes that Southeastern have added in the past decade.

Since April, Southeastern have consistently failed to meet the targets set out to them.

We would like to ask what Gareth Johnson, MP for Dartford, and Claire Perry, Rail Minister, will do to ensure that the promises of ‘tough performance targets’ are enforced, and that rail users in the Dartford area get the service they have been promised, not the lacklustre, underperforming service we continue to receive.

It’s time for our elected officials to step up and work behalf of the hard working people of Dartford and Kent for a better performing and more reliable rail service.

Yours sincerely,

Phil Rogers
on behalf of Dartford Rail Travellers’ Association