On Saturday Mark Reckless launched the new Reckless Direct feature on his website which allows Mark to report back live to constituents on local issues that are of concern. Making use of Web 2.0 software made popular by leading bloggers such as Guido Fawkes and Iain Dale, Mark Reckless is once again showing how recent innovations in online interactivity can be used to provide a better experience for local constituents at no cost to the taxpayer.
Mark chose to launch this new feature by using it to report back to commuters who participated in his recent Passenger Survey. As part of his campaign to get a fairer deal for Medway commuters, Mark Reckless recently met with Mr. Mike Gibson of Southeastern trains to discuss issues that were raised by the public, and some of these are summarised below. You can read the full transcript of Mark’s feedback on the Reckless Direct page of his website.
There were three main issues discussed at the meeting, and they were;
1. Train company complaints about THEIR difficulties in the recession and lobbying to prevent passengers getting any benefit from any fall in retail prices.
2. Southeastern’s proposal to charge a 30-35% premium on CTRL fast services to St Pancras
3. The very large amount of feedback Mark received that the fast(ish) services to Cannon Street and Victoria should stop at Rochester.
With regards to issue 1, Southeastern now accept that they will be held to their RPI linked fares franchise and are no longer lobbying for changes. They accept that they need to find efficiencies internally and that the recession is properly pushing them to do that.
Issue 2, Southeastern say they have done a lot of market research with City and Canary Wharf business associations, etc and this says that people think that it might be attractive to commute in from Medway, even at a 30-35% premium.
Mark pointed out that that is all very well, but those people are not living in Medway now! People here tend to commute to work that is near to Victoria and Cannon Street and will not gain much, if anything, from faster services to St Pancras.
It is possible that over time, say 5-10 years, people with jobs convenient to St Pancras may be tempted to move to Medway, but they are not here now and Mark cannot see the services attracting many people if that premium is much above 10-15% initially.
Mark pointed out that the 30-35% premium is not commercially sensible since they would make more money from 6,000 commuters paying a 15% premium than 2,000 commuters paying a 30-35% premium.
Mark Reckless’s bottom line is that 30-35% is much too much, and Mr Gibson has promised Mark that he will be allowed to put his case and concerns to their Pricing Team before the decision is made.
And finally on issue 3, Mark pressed Southeastern strongly on getting fast services to Cannon Street and Victoria to stop at Rochester during rush hour. This was a major issue raised to Mark in the feedback to the survey.
Southeastern really listened to Mark that this would encourage more people to use the service as there are a lot of people in Rochester who can comfortably walk to Rochester, but not to Chatham.
This would also bring environmental benefits – and this is an important issue too for Southeastern with it receiving a public subsidy. Many people would no longer need to drive to Chatham station from across Medway, and Mark has agreed with Cllr Phil Filmer that the Council will support Mark in pressing Southeastern on this.