Southeastern ‘Not Fit For Purpose’

Mark Reckless campaigning for a fair fareMark Reckless MP calls for ‘not fit for purpose’ Southeastern Trains to be stripped of its franchise ‘as soon as possible’.

Following Southeastern’s Nightmare before Christmas where the managing director of the rail firm, Charles Horton, was hauled into Westminster to explain to Kent MPs the company’s abysmal failure to cope with the snow at the start of December, Mark has slammed Southeastern’s decision to increase season ticket prices by 9% or £276 for hard-pressed commuters in Rochester and Strood.

Speaking on the subject, Mark said:

“I have become increasingly frustrated with Southeastern Trains.  I have tried very hard to work with Southeastern to help it deal with the concerns of rail users in the Rochester and Strood area, but I have now come to the conclusion that the company is not fit for purpose.

Southeastern’s attitude to its customers is, in my opinion, nothing short of disgraceful. I have received numerous complaints from constituents regarding the level of service, or lack thereof, provided by Southeastern. As a regular commuter myself, I sympathise very strongly with hard-working taxpayers who are basically being held to ransom by a company which appears to have little interest in delivering a decent service to commuters, let alone one that provides value for money.

As a former City economist, I simply cannot make sense of Southeastern’s justification for the distribution of the latest fare increases.

The average income in Medway is less than many other areas of Kent, e.g. Maidstone and Faversham (which enjoy comparable fares), and there is very strong competition from local commuter coach companies. One would have thought therefore that Southeastern might use the flexibility it now has to hold fare increases in Medway below the average, yet they are imposing a 9% increase in fares, higher than the 7.8% average they are allowed.  Southeastern’s actions are looking increasingly commercially self-defeating.

This is not the action of a sensible competitor and is simply unjustifiable. Why should commuters to London from Strood and Rochester pay virtually the same as those from Rainham and nearly as much as those who commute twice the distance from elsewhere in Kent?

Mark Reckless with Fares Fair campaigner Chris Irvine

Mark Reckless with Fares Fair campaigner Chris Irvine

Having worked closely with Chris Irvine’s Medway Fares Fair campaign, I have long considered, but not previously accepted, their argument that Southeastern should be stripped of its franchise.

However, the distribution of these latest fare increases, combined with the news that Southeastern commuters will not enjoy an automatic season ticket discount despite the pitiful performance in December, suggests that Southeastern Trains is beyond redemption.

The company is simply treating the Kent franchise as a cash cow and does not even appear to be making decisions which are commercially sensible. Southeastern should be stripped of the franchise as soon as possible.”



Filed under campaigns, chatham, commuters, conservatives, fair's fare, hs1, mark reckless, medway, railway, rochester, rochester and strood, southeastern, strood, transport

28 responses to “Southeastern ‘Not Fit For Purpose’

  1. Carol Clements

    Southern’s attitude to its passengers is one of complete disregard, verging on contempt. They most definitely should be stripped of their franchise. People are seriously considering ending their careers in London in order to end the torture of the daily commute at the mercy of this diabolical company, not to mention the fact that they are taking an annual pay CUT every time Southeastern hikes its fares. Words simply cannot begin to describe the anger this particular commuter feels towards them.

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  4. Doug Snoswell

    I couldnt agree more, South a should be stripped of their franchise, they have been getting away with murder for far to long.
    I use South Eastern almost every day and the service is generally getting worse. Filthy Carriages Staff not bothering to clear Ice and Snow from Platforms, and staff being almost invisible on Platforms.
    If you have the audacity to complain to their complaints office at Tonbridge you are treated with complete disdain and not given a propr answer.
    If they could be bothered to ensure that fares were paid especially at Abbey Wood then the would not need to put the fares up. So come on lets see Southeastern stripped of their Franchise sooner rather than later.

    • Douglas Snoswell

      Please Mr Leach Use your common sense, South Eastern are to blame for treating passengers like Cattle or Idiots. The Department ofd Transpory did not tell South Eastern to give the wrong figures as correct arrival time.
      They are not told to blame everyone else for lack of information. I could go on Please dont treat us as Idiots!

      • Danny Leach

        No offence I was only talking about the fares which I am correct about.. as for the Customer service no offence but where is this extra capacity going to come from then? Who will pay for that then?

        I wasn’t blaming the Dft for the lack on information, at least read what I actually said. I was talking about the Lying media and Lying MPs who think that Southeastern are rasing the Fares for personal gain which they aren’t. It is the government that is rasing the price of the fares…

        As for the treating like cattle comment, no offence but that has always been like that ever since Network South East and before, so how will that change after Connex and Southeastern. There will be the same staff and same company overall so nothing will change by removing Southeastern. I do agree though that if Southeastern has been changing figures they have to go but not just southeastern then Southern, Gatwick Express and London Midland must be removed as well then…

      • Douglas Snoswell

        Please Mr Leach no one doubts that the press do twist things to suit themselves as also do SOME MPs but Mark Reckless and the other Medway MPS are correct when they say that Southeastern are not fit for purpose. Explain how there are Twenty Seven delays today on Southeastern Trains between Gillingham and London. and before you give the old chestnut this figure is what Southeastern put out themselves by E Mail. None of these were caused by Railtrack Engineering, Three were caused by Signal Problems and the rest were down tyo South Easterns incompetence.

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  6. What they said!! Southeastern are a disgrace. They are in violation of the passengers charter and they keep getting away with it.

    Period 9 reporting figures are 82.04% So mainline commuters JUST miss out on that 5% discount. The period 10 figures will show an improvement in service because they ran less trains!! How is any of this fair?

    • Douglas Snoswell

      In reply to Mr Leach am afraid he is wrong again, the Department for Tansport may tell Southeastern to put the fares up by NOT by how much. 8.5% is ridiculous. The added capacity that they bare talking about they have been talking about for years and we never see it. Going by these excuses the should be in court for Fraud as any other business would be.

      • Danny Leach

        The added capacity is the governments problem, Southeastern don’t even own the trains, they are leased and the department for transport controls where trains are allocated and that is a fact… (I know this from Railway staff and from legitmate sources! (I bet you will tell me that I’m wrong again there). I don’t even know why I bother I’m not defending southeastern (they’ve caused me problems as well).

        The DFT have actually refused Train Companies more trains (examples – First Transpennie Express for the fourth carriage for their Class 185 diesel multiple units, refusing Virgin their four new Class 390 Pendolinos to help improve capacity on the WCML and there are more examples of this… – and I have not made any of this up for the record these.

        I know that you probably think of me as some whining five year old (I’ve travelled on the trains almost everyday and suffered because of delays – but not all of these can be put down to Southeastern – e.g. Overrun engineering works, car accidents on level crossings, signaling problems, and of course the unfortunate incidents where someone decides to throw themselves. How are those southeasterns fault?

        Everytime I see the media say about the railways I know that most of it is twisted to make it sound like all railway staff are evil, swear at customers and don’t do any work… All i see is a witch hunt against the railways. It was just as bad with Network South East, and Connex after them, and Southeastern are the same, so is it going to improve with a new company then? I doubt it. Maybe the MPs should actually do something rather than just play the blame game… they are as much as fault and yes the government ARE responsible for the Fare increases thats why they have given less susidies to the railway companies to take the burden off the tax payers and on to the passengers (please don’t tell me that I’m wrong because I know that I am correct on this case…)

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  14. Caroline Brown

    I am incensed by these fare increases.

    I cannot even see any justification for the 7.8% average, let alone the 9% they’ve imposed. I’ve heard this is “to invest in improving the service”. So we’re paying for something we’re not getting then? Why is that the customer’s problem? If I’m to invest in the future of the rail service then I want to be treated as an investor and get a share certificate.

    If on the other hand my season ticket is paying for the service I’m getting now, then I want some back. I had 4 trains cancelled yesterday. the 0740 and 0756 from Rochester and the 1727 and the 1754 from Victoria in the evening.

    • Douglas Snoswell

      South Eastern are at it again, This Morning I hae noticed that according to their service update EMail Service there are around Nine trains running about Ten Minutes Late. Yesterday the figure was around Twenty trains running late by up to Fifteen Minutes.
      Hqw can they explain that?

  15. Danny Leach

    I should point out that the train fares are controlled by the Department for Transport (i.e. the government!) not by the railway companies (I really wish people and media could get their facts straight!), most of it goes to network rail (only 3p of every £1 is profit for south eastern).

    I know that southeastern haven’t been perfect but they are not the cause of all the problems the department for transport are. I know people like to say South Eastern have raised the prices of the fares to get more money for themselves but that is a load of rubbish… most of the fare goes to Network Rail and the Department for Transport, who are also responsible for raising the cost of the tickets.

    Examples of delays – Signaling Problems, Sucides, Overrun engineering works or similar, no offence but how are these South Easterns fault? All of these are Network Rails problems… I do agree about the trains some have been dirty and horrible but then again Southeastern have been far better than connex. Infact I’ve seen some great customer service in the past few months from Southeastern people and I have even seen staff clear the platforms at my local station (Aylesham) on his own

    As for South Eastern High Speed (refering to the Department for Transport here again…) I think that they should scrap the high fare as well as half the stations on the Faversham Route (so it stops at Faversham, Sittingbourne, Chatham, Strood, Gravesend onwards) Since its only one minute difference between that and the normal service…

  16. I really hope something is done, I commute from Maidstone and the service there is appaling no matter the weather. They seem to be completely against me using a bicycle (fold-up or otherwise) on there network, and the staff at Victoria are so bloody RUDE!

    I pay £3500 for that 😦

  17. Danny Leach

    To – Douglas Snoswell

    Just because they are late doesn’t mean you should just jump to the conclusion that they are incompetent, it could have been caused by a knock on effect if one train is late because of a signalling problem then the next one will be delayed because of that. (since neither you nor I know the truth so we shouldn’t saythings like that without evidence…you can’t call a driver incompetent because he is held by a red light though…)

    I never said that ALL the problems weren’t southeasterns fault only some of them. Obviously if one train breaks down its going to cause a lot more trains to be delayed or would you expect the drivers to go through red lights (yes I have heard customers swear and abuse drivers as well as the conductors for this even though it wasn’t their fault)

    However if Southeastern get removed then the other parts of the company must be removed as well. I’m not defending southeastern I know that they are bad as well – I’ve been overcharged by given bad advice from conductors (bad training though!), but then again so are ALL of the other railway companies so should we remove all of those as well then (all of the train companies do the same you know).

    So you are making the assumption that because the trains are late therefore its southeasterns fault and the fault of the staff on the train…for doing their jobs. I know that you think that all of the staff are completely incometent morons and that all the trains are always late… (I hear this a lot at stations)

    So if Connex weren’t able to fix all these problems, and now southeastern are all useless and all the staff are incompetent morons as you say…Then how will the new company fix it then? – I would like you to answer this one please!

    I know that according to most people seem to think that the actual Southeastern reliablity is actually 0% because all I hear all the time is that.

    As for customer service at Victoria I went through there today and they were polite but that doesn’t mean anything though could have been different people but it isn’t really fair to judge all of the Southeastern Staff on the views of a few, but then again when I used to work at a food store I was always polite and proffessional but was sworn at, spat at and even punched just for doing my job proffesionally (this is one reason why I don’t believe that all the staff aren’t bad horrible people – I’ve actually seen brilliant customer service from a few of these people and some that have gone out of their way – yes there are no doubt a few bad people but then again how would you feel if customers were throwing abuse at you all day every day?

    • Danny Leach

      *I should point out I’m not defending Southeastern, even though it seems that I am. I’m defending the hard working front line staff – sure there are a few bad staff (but aren’t there bad staff where ever you go?). I just don’t think that it is fair for the staff to get the brunt of all this. People say that staff are rude but I’ve seen plently of the opposite where the customers are the abusive ones towards the staff just because they were doing their jobs.

  18. james parmenter

    Over the last year there has been a very noticeable downturn in the level of service provided by Southeastern. It is now so bad it is bordering on the ridiculous. I have been keeping a close eye on the running times of my trains over the previous six months and even taking into account the 4min 59sec rule I can safely say 80% of my trains were officially considered ‘delayed’. That is nothing short of pathetic. I am no train expert but honestly how difficult can it be in our world of advanced technology to run a train up and down a line !!!! It needs to change so that SE only report the percentage of trains running on time over the rush hour periods. The fact they are able to run almost empty trains into London when not rush hour is of little relevance. The true picture of ‘how they are doing’ and if London’s workforce is getting to work on time can only be gauged this way.

  19. Are you kidding me? you work for southeastern i guess? they are totaly disgrace, totaly and utterly
    I realise network rail run th stations and signels etc, this is nothing to do with this toaly awful company.

    please go back in your box.

    • Daniel Leach

      Seriously are you really such a moron…no I don’t work for southeastern and I’m allowed to have my own opinions for gods sake… just because I don’t believe that southeastern are to blame for everything I’m suddenly the idiot.I travel on them everyday and they are NOT all late or cancelled or delayed, but of course you are just one of the passengers that all trains are cancelled or delayed by ten hours+ and just want free travel…

  20. Douglas Snoswell

    I see that Mr Leach is at it again being so Blinkeres that he cant see tt South Eastern are NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE.
    Cant he see that they have been caught masaging the figures, cant see that most of the bad time keeping is due to faulty stock and staff shortages. Do I need to carry on?