I’ve been gathering up feedback over social media over the past week, and the main themes are outlined below. A few comments are from rail users in the areas immediately to the east and west of Dartford, but have an impact on us in some way, so I’ve included them – they also aren’t fortunate enough to have a rail group speaking up for them…yet!
Better provision to allow ticket usage at other stations.
In Central London, adding Monument, Tower Hill, Mansion House, and Temple, would help ease the pressure – and allow those who work between Cannon Street and Charing Cross stations to take the tube. This is particularly important as last week Southeastern were pushing commuters in the direction of Charing Cross/Waterloo East where it was less crowded.
Allowing rail users to go via Dartford. For example, during congestion/problems in the London Bridge area during PM peak, it might be more comfortable, and even quicker to take a train from Charing Cross through to Dartford, then returning up the line to stations on the Woolwich line, e.g. Slade Green, Erith, Belvedere and Abbey Wood. I raised this on BBC Radio Kent, and the Southeastern MD, David Statham, skirted around the answer when asked it – although, to his defence, Radio Kent didn’t use the example I gave them when I sent through my notes on Friday.
Southeastern need to look at improving the provisions of using other routes, to ease the pressure on rail users, and not further reduce the quality of their journeys.
London Bridge overcrowding
Over the weekend, David Statham, was quoted as saying ‘we had no particular reports of overcrowding’ – he was obviously reading a different Twitter feed than we have been – maybe, in the spirit of classic crime films, someone had stuck a piece of card over the CCTV cameras showing empty platforms.
During the first week of the new timetable, where Dartford residents have seen a reduction of over 50% on morning and evening peak services, there have been reports of overcrowding, scuffles, and angry passengers. I predicted this as part of my interview on BBC Radio Kent on the first day that the timetable started – Southeastern simply can’t reduce the service by that much and not expect any of the problems that have happened at London Bridge.
…Rebalancing of carriages for services
There are a finite number of trains services that can run on a particular piece of track, there are also a finite number of trains that Southeastern can use (read this article that covers long term failings through successive governments). However, given that Charing Cross services regularly run emptier (or should I say, less full) than before the changes, some of those carriages should move to the Cannon Street line?
I end that last line with a question – Southeastern should be aware of the utilisation of each service since they have mechanisms to weigh carriages as they go through service. This is one area we want to follow up with them, so that if carriages are moved to the Cannon Street line, Charing Cross users aren’t affected. There has to be a balance, what we have right now isn’t it.
Meeting the franchise agreement
The new franchise agreement states that there should be “a reasonable expectation of a seat 20 minutes after boarding”, and that the timetable should have “the best allocation of Passenger Services and rolling stock vehicles to Passenger Services” to meet this. Southeastern should have been able to forecast this, and instead of reducing services to London Bridge by over half (at least to/from Dartford), made better provision to cater for their passenger loads.
We will follow this up, since getting this right is a condition of their franchise, and something that they have obviously missed given the last weeks problems through London Bridge
If passengers need to route via another station as a result of overcrowding/being unable to board their train, Southeastern have said, on Twitter, that the extra time taken to move to another station isn’t covered by Delay Repay. This isn’t our understanding of the rules, since it starts from the attempt to use one of their services, and something we will be following up over coming weeks to allow customers to claim what is rightfully theirs, even if it works out around £2 for a delay of up to an hour.
Potential of Photosensitive Epilepsy/Seizures through faulty on-board messages.
There is a known issue which I raised last Wednesday that the added message on the on-board train indicators sometimes causes them to flicker violently, and could cause those who are affected by Photosensitive Epilepsy a potential seizure, Southeastern need to address this as soon as possible to avoid a potential seizure. This has been raised by myself and several other twitter users over the past week. We’ll definitely be following this one up.
Over to you…
What others would you like to add to the list? Talk to us via the usual channels on Twitter and Facebook, or post a comment here
Let’s talk in person?
The next gathering of DRTA will be on Wednesday 28th January at the Forresters pub in Dartford (15 Great Queen Street).
Since it’s pay day, I’ll get at least one round in – so an incentive, if any, to pop along and talk about your train journeys!