Commuters Left High And Dry By Southeastern Trains

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 86 months ago
Commuters Left High And Dry By Southeastern Trains

Oh, Southeastern Trains. They make it so hard for people to love them. After January's debacle where they were the only London Train Operating Company to not even try to run a service past about 8.30pm, and had the Mayor and the London Assembly censuring them, not to mention every commuter in south-east London making little voodoo dolls, they said they'd do their very best next time.

Their "winter preparations" included creating a little service update tool for their website, much like TfL have for the tube. Drivers have been given Blackberrys to keep them in touch with Control and, apparently, "customers can get updates on Twitter and sign up for dedicated email alerts tailored to their individual journeys".

Which sounds great. Until the plans were put into action yesterday as the snow started to fall. And complaints started flooding onto the internet that there was nobody at stations to say what was going on.

@sarahluv81 reported:

"Charing cross update. If you ask at the desk they will tell you which trains are running. No PA announcements as only 1 person upstairs"

853 and Blackheath Bugle noted that departure boards at stations were turned off again, and Kidbrooke Kite says you're better off getting information from the guy running the coffee stand than station staff.

@alexgnuk got some information, but it wasn't much use:

"They told us to get on the next train for London Bridge. We did. And where is the next stop? That's right, SEVENOAKS!"

@talljamz noted the

"Crazy, total lack of communication between the platforms at London bridge."

Stations were overcrowded and eventually closed. A train broke down at Sevenoaks with passengers waiting in darkness until 3.30am, when they walked half a mile to a station staff room. To wait some more.

But unlike January, we can see there is a lot of snow on the ground (our scientific measurement: about halfway up a cat's leg). In the words of @RachelLK:

"It's not so much the actual train delays I mind, it's the total lack of information."

So what of these train driver Blackberrys? According to @Train_Driver, it's receiving lots of messages about "disruption level 2", which is, er, uninformative. The emails? @louboutinzoe has one:

"Email alert from #southeastern says no known disruption, Ha ha ha ha ha ha!"

But surely, Southeastern said we could get updates on Twitter? Not if they meant the official @NRE_Southeastrn account, which this morning tells passengers to call the recorded information line. Or perhaps they meant "you can get updates if you follow people who live near you" - crowdsourcing win?

Yes, the service this morning may still be appalling - thank you, @Bobajobbob

"To confirm, I've waited here for 30 mins and there are NO trains at #sevenoaks this morning. Do not believe website."

and @vitapix

"Reports that trains so crowded, waiting passengers are pulling people off the train to get on."

- but today, perhaps the real story is that the only reliable source of information coming out of Southeastern is one lone staff member - the aforementioned @Train_Driver.

"Trains are fecked. Drivers been all been told to wait for instructions at dept. STAY AT HOME."

"Received email asking for volunteers for local stations. Maybe #southeastern should be employing more staff instead of cutting them."

"The frozen 3rd rails and points, which are the main problem are owned by#networkrail Doesn't excuse#southeastern lack of info though."

@Train_Driver, we salute you. And please hide your automatic login in case Southeastern managers do a search for Twitter clients on staff phones.

If you're relying on Southeastern today you should look at the emergency timetable (PDF), but take it with a pinch of salt, as it seems to think the Sidcup line goes through Greenwich. Some lines out of London finish as early as 8pm tonight, but there are trains planned up to midnight. As @darryl1974 points out

"Unbelieveable - #southeastern website claiming a half-hourly service, but a quick look at the live departure board shows this to be bollocks"

Southern are also having problems - last night @rorymaxwell noted

"Interesting to see that South West Train is maintaining close to scheduled service while Southern is in meltdown."

and a broken down train at Gatwick caused chaos this morning, but we can't detect the same outcry over service - Southern commuters, are you also left mystified at your local station, or have Southeastern passengers just reached breaking point?

Photo of Charing Cross departure boards this afternoon Yfrogged by dollyrockaUK

Edit 1710: this just in from National Rail - all Southeastern servies will stop by 9pm tonight. Last train out of London Bridge leaves at 1940.

Last Updated 01 December 2010

Jonn

Today is my magazine's press day. My production guy lives in Sevenoaks.

It's fine, we didn't really want to publish this issue anyway.

Mark_Demery

At Forest Hill this morning additional suited management type was on hand on the station to provide information, didn't help with few overcrowded trains but significantly improved perception of attempts to keep passengers informed, maybe because it's a TfL station?

jamesup

Which would be fine, were it not true that Southwestern and Merseyrail also use the third rail... Not to mention services like the Chicago El, which operates some branches at southern-like frequencies with the same system in far worse weather.

Nimbys wouldn't stand for OHE anyway (see the stroud-airtrack mess). Perhaps it could be converted to side or bottom contact without too much drama...

Gonna Buy a Scooter

SE Trains are the WORST train line in the country. And by a large margin. Not a weeks goes by when I am not late for work, late getting home or rammed onto a 4 carriage train because they don't run trains that are fit for purpose.

I'm a sick man. I need medication and fluid due to kidney problems. At the moment, if I was to travel, I would have to travel with 2.5 litres of water and a days worth of tablets just in case of problems that kept me from getting home. Despite by illness, I still go into work but rely on SE Trains running a service that at the very least will get me somewhere.

They need to have the franchise taken from them. There is nothing else for it. They've had chance, after chance and made promises that seemingly are just lip service. And they have the cheek to put fares up by 12.8% in January. Shame on you SE Trains. You are worse than useless.

Abstractnoise

Fully agree that we need a better service in SE London. I can't help but think Network Rail are partly to blame here, even if SouthEastern makes references to them sound like buck-passing. Would a new franchise really help? Or is it time we bring it all back under a single not-for-profit publicly-accountable organisation?

JW

.....and season tickets on South Eastern are set to rise massively....mine is a 11.8% increase which makes me sick considering I had to sleep on the train at Orpington last night.....South Eastern need to be stopped from these increases until they provide an adequate service.

Stark

I use South West Trains and they are surprisingly good; no real problems last night. They did have some delays this morning but kept us informed, their live departure information on the website was correct and only got to work 30 mins late.

effyousoutheastern

Yesterday passengers were told at victoria that for the ashford line, they should head to swanley and there is an hourly 'shuttle service' 45 mins past every hour.

Ther was no such thing -- the station was locked up and passengers that were sent here had to wait 2 and a half hours for the next train to come along to the station -- which wasnt even going to ashford,

Yesterday SouthEastern Trains had demonstrated complete and utter incompetence .

There needs to be a independent investigation on this company and people need to be sacked -- kent commuters have had enough of this and are sick of the services and sick of being overcharged. Normal services are not 'normal' services and every time there is an inch of snow , we are left completely stranded which shows nothing but utter contempt for customers.

Edith S

"If you’re relying on Southeastern today you should look at the emergency timetable (PDF), but take it with a pinch of salt, as it seems to think the Sidcup line goes through Greenwich."

I'm not defending Southeastern at all, as their information dissemination has been beyond appalling as has their service, but the info is correct. The trains mentioning Sidcup and Greenwich are loop services avoiding Dartford (hence their origin and destination both being Cannon St) - they either head down the Sidcup line to Crayford, then round to Slade Green and back to London via Greenwich, or the reverse (Greenwich first, then Sidcup line). These operate during normal timetables too but to a lesser extent.

Sez

Umm don't rely on the timetable -
From my flat at Erith I can see the station - at 7.50 people were standing outside and on the platform and a train came so I quickly got ready just about to go and another train came and went at approx 8.20 .. so, I made my way to the station and missed the next one 8.30 (10 mins later)!!
I get the (Dartford via Greenwich) ... then nothing going up to London for over 1 1/2 hours .... left waiting on the platform with no announcement of when a train would come. A train came at 10ish we jumped on and the announcement was we might be going Cannon Street, we might be going Charing Cross !!

Pam, Paddock Wood

Well done on writing this article and also for giving everyone a chance to have their say about SE trains!!! ;o)) I regularly commute from Paddock Wood to Cannon Street and rely on National Rail info + SE train's live updates for timetables, delays, cancellations, etc. And like many other commuters I pay a small fortune for the privilege of using these services so I expect things to be fairly accurate/reliable. However, the info on SE live updates of late has been utter rubbish!!! Last night I waited at Cannon Street for over an hour and there were very few trains running, desite the website stating a regular service was running though subject to approx. 45 minute delays. After waiting over an hour for a train ... just any train(!) ... I boarded what was supposed to be a non-stopping express to Tonbridge. This train took over 3 hours to go one stop and not even the driver knew why he was constantly being held at red lights...other than the weather conditions of course. It was only after a fellow commuter received a text from her friend that we discovered a tree had fallen on the track just after Grove Park. But why on earth didnt SE let their driver know this? I could tell by his voice that he was getting as cheesed off as we were! And, as for this morning ...OMG!!! Whilst I enjoy a brisk mile walk to the station each morning, having to do 3 such walks in several inches of snow are taking things a bit too far, especially when my only reason for doing them was to catch a train that SE's Live update advised would be running. Only to find that each time I got to the station the info was total .... fiction! In fact, from 7am til 11.30am, there had been no trains to London from Paddock Wood and there were none scheduled to run. There was however a random shuttle service to Tonbridge. Oh, and the station staff informed me that the High Speed link from Ashford to Paddington was running, but as I couldnt get to Ashford in the first place I failed to see the relevance of this. So, please please please South Eastern, can you at least try to improve your communication systems and update your website to tell the people, who are in fact keeping you in a job, the truth! Thanks I feel a whole lot better now!! ;o)) lol Pam from Paddock Wood

SE Customer(but wish I wasn't)

Maybe South West Trains should be sold/given the SE Franchise. The service (if you can call it that) is worse than the lack of transport that is available in New Zealand where I am originally from. I have taken to riding my bicycle to work, but there are some days where it is just too dangerous or impractical so I still have to use the rubbish train service. a 12 % increase in fares should reflect a 12% increase in service/reliabliltiy, not 20% increase in profits for the shareholders (even if they are part of my pension). The quality of life when travelling on SE is far worse than livestock are treated with when transported to the slaughter houses. Its time the rail regulator and local government stepped in and did something useful! Surely London's business that rely on their staff being at work on time and not exhausted from packaged carriages and long journeys would also want to do something about this? Maybe my former employer should have invested in the Rail services, instead of paying excessive fees to "Bankers" and laying off back office and branch staff.

Simba

I was at London Bridge yesterday and it was really frustrating. I agree Southeastern does not communicate I was at the station for an hour and no message came up informing passengers of the situation (from 1415 until 1530!). Southeastern service is rubbish!

sb

actually i work at tonbridge station i stayed and done a 12hr shift to help out yesterday the problem was southeastern tryed to run a normal train service which was a bad mistake as this meant more trains would fail if they had run 2 an hour on each line it would have been a better servic if a train failed there would have been enough stock and drivers to rescue failed trains. there was managers at tonbridge yesterday all the staff understand how passangers feel but getting abuse in the ear every 5mins will not get anyone a train quicker as for the information side there is a massive breakdown in communication this is down to southeastern cutting jobs. all information comes fromm one phone line for the whole network now in times of disruption the phone is always busy hence the reason we dont get the information we need. Not here to defend the company but here to give a point of view.

banjo

I have just checked Southeastern's web site and they at least seem to be hearing our cries for more reliable information as they have been putting more info up on the live departure board however what is astonishing is the sheer amount of services not running / broken down trains, no wonder they didn't want to provide the information in the first place, perhaps they thought we wouldn't notice if they didn't tell us!! For months now the punctuality of the services have gone way down hill, trains are either too short, overcrowded, breaking down, and dirty. As for the fare increases, I doubt much of the increased profit will be spent on service improvements, staff and trains.

Aazell1

Connex were no better. I get the feeling that the staff structure didn't really change when the French company were booted out for bad bookkeeping. The major problem here is that customer complaints, feedback or downright fury means nothing to them.

The customer here is not the passengers. The customer is the Department Of Transport. As long as SouthEastern keep them sweet nothing will change.

It's a complete scandal and leaves the appallingly bad management of the company with no real reason to improve.

I have no idea what it takes for their franchise rights to be taken away or for it not to be re-newed. This is not privatisation, it's outsourcing. Privatisation implies that competition will ensure decent service. There is no competition though. You have no choice but to use their foul services and trains that smell like public toilets.

C Mottram

Hmm the live departures for Victoria seems to have lost the south eastern trains to the Medway, they are listed but never get platform numbers then disappear from the list after their departure times, the illusion of a functioning railway system except the actual trains are imaginary. My wife having been at Victoria and seeing no such train decamped to St Pancras to catch a real train.

Nigel

The staff on hand have no information. Yesterday evening (30/11) @ Lewisham, I enquired about the likelihood of a train to Sidcup. All the staff could tell me was that there was one 5 min ago. Beyond that, all they could advise was to wait & if anything left London, they'd announce it.

This morning @ Sidcup, nothing on departure boards, except a message that emergency timetable was in operation, but no one had any idea if, or when a train was actually going to appear.

Philip Wylie

Currently I find it hard to love SE trains. Last night at Victoria and also this morning at Beckenham Junction, the staff seemed angry with the passengers. Eventually got home via Southern to Crystal Palace and walked to Penge where I was met. Southern's metro trains were much more abounding. This morning arrived at BJ and reckoned the guy on the loudspeakers was addressing us like a Rottweiler. He also said that the Southern train to London Bridge was "entirely stuck" whatever that means. Got on Thameslink stock with hundreds of others to Victoria - thought this was good use of resources, but all fell apart at Herne Hill when the driver said there was a change of plan - we were going to City Thameslink. At that moment an 8 car train pulled in for Victoria and we all dashed out, but couldn't get on. Passengers said there was one behind, but that turned out to be for Bedford................Southeastern needs to learn the art of customer care as the farebox (mostly) pays the wages and their fare rises in January are the highest in the country I think.

Lyn

I was one of those many passengers who was told at Victoria to board a train to Ramsgate and change at Swanley for a connecting shuttle at 7pm last night after waiting nearly 2 hours for information. On arriving at Swanley, no staff, no information and no services! It was only down to the good fortune of a member of Southeastern staff getting off a train that those passengers, stranded for many hours in freezing conditions were able to get home. My journey home took a total of 8 hours yesterday and for others much longer as I didn't travel as far as Ashford. The member of staff who should have been on duty to 10.30pm last night should be sacked. After 20 years of commuting, I always expect the usual winter ineptitude but yesterday was a despicable demonstration of how seriously this train company values its customers. The rail regulator should suspend any proposed fare increases until Southeastern can prove that they can run a reliable service and show a little more consideration and respect to commuters

Simon

Southeastern couldn't care less about their passengers - they have almost given up running trains out of London tonight already. I travelled in to London from Deal in Kent this morning there was one member of staff at the station who did not know what was going on. The website stated trains were running but the only train I saw was a highspeed train which didn't even bother stopping to let bewildered passengers on!

Pat

I'm used to the rubbish service, so I'm no longer bothered by it, I would like more information though, how hard can it be. Al through yesterday and even today, the 'live departure board' for cannon street and Elmstead woods said everything bar a small number of cancelled trains, was on time. Is it not possible to plumb that page of their website into the real departure boards rather than just displaying the timetabled services

Frank

Totally agree with all the fed up people on here Its so frustrating working for South Eastern Nobody seems to care anymore . As soon as theres disruption of any kind the information screens go off and thats what the staff have to rely on. Ok it was decided to run an emergency service , but whats that? what are the times? At Gillingham the 1st service to Sittingbourne wasn't until 7.43 yet at 6 am people were waiting on the platform seemingly only being told if they asked. Whats wrong with a felt pen and paper to write the times down so that people at least know . South Eastern have centralised all their operations into one hub at Ashford. Most local managers have been made redundant. There is no one takeing charge . Morale is so low . It is an appalling service with dirty trains that are not cleaned properly. I am so so sorry that you have to put up with it.

talljamz

Thanks for the mention (I'm @talljamz). Lots of people have already said it, the main frustration is communication. On Platform 1 at London Bridge last night the PA system was inaudible, totally crackly and saturated. I mean honestly, if they can't afford a decent PA system we're doomed!

Each platform had a team of poor buggers trying to figure out what was going on and everyone was contradicting each other. So what you had was thousands of people pushing from one platform to another, and back again. It's like they were playing chess with us. Except, when you have icy platforms and live rail lines it's pretty darn dangerous !

Gingernuts

You should check out @Southern_Trains on twitter if you think Southern and FCC passengers have it any better. We really don't.

aunty_val

I completely agree with all of the comments above! the Charing Cross/Cannon St to Hayes service was quite simply absymal, no communication one train an hour etc etc.

There are many key workers such as hospital staff that rely on their services so it is simply unacceptable for their service to break down so badly when other rail companies seem to cope with minor delays. It cannot be justified for Southeastern to increase their rail fares - please strip them of their franchise so they can stop holding us all to ransom with their awful service.

@office_tramp

Hmmm, it's more of an artists impression of a timetable than an actual timetable with times on it though isn't it? You only know what the first and last trains are, so presumably you have to turn up and just wait, in the cold, for as long as it takes?

Journeys_and_witts_end

The ONLY thing I can say here - is Oh the JOY of a monopoly! What are our choices? - None. Nadda. Niet. Take it or leave it. 12% price increase - have it and get stuffed. It's not a price rise, it's a tax rise. Where are our options here?
Oh that's right - we (in West Kent) get to pay through the nose for a high speed rail link that WE DON'T USE - and when we can't get away from our local station get told but the most pointlessly ineffectual bunch of profiteering pillocks to 'go to Ashford and get the high speed trains which are running...' thus meaning we have to contend with the second most useless group, the Highways Agency and their gritters... In other words – it’s not our problem.
As I said. The joy of a monopoly.

vickyjo

As a Southern and/or First Capital Connect customer I just gave up today and opted to WFH. It took 5 hrs to get home last night. London Bridge station was a fiasco last night, complete lack of comms, trains just deleted from the board. (I'd started at City Thamelink and put the lack of trains down to First Capital Connect, so walked to London Bridge to get a Southern service - ha!) I got a on train heading South, which sat there for 1.5 - 2 hrs on the platform, I could have changed trains but the we'd been told no trains were running down to ECR; but some were....eventually, I'm glad I got off the train to head to VIC (where there are more facilities - like a pub) to discover some trains running from LBG to BTN from another platform. While the driver of the train told us the brakes were frozen there was no other info (such as get off the train as some others are running ). I have heard of friends who left London at 11:30 last night and didn't get in 'til 6am and others who waited for 3 hrs at Brighton station for a train to London this morning.

I know South Eastern are pretty terrible (I used to live in Lewisham) but I'm not convinced Southern or First Capital Connect are any better. Last night's comms should have been handled by Network Rail and they should have communicated with the multiple TOCs and made station announcements (I wouldn't be surprised if NR have a different view on this).......another one of the downsides of privatisation, everyone passes the buck. (I'm sure that'll happen once they actually start telling us anything)

Marcos Richardson

Apart from the chaos due to snow on South Western trains, for the last 6 months a week as not gone by without a major delay for one reason or another. We pay premium prices and get substandard service; in business if we are late for a meeting on a consistent basis we don’t get repeat business. South Western is monopoly we have no choice! When we look to seek compensation we are offered £6 and only if the trains are late 15% of the time.

I vote for dismantling South Western and bringing in another supplier.

AND for the sake of sanity please update your enquiry service so that we don’t step out of our houses on the premise that trains are running as normal

ss1

1 and half hours waiting for phantom trains at Albany Park (Sidcup Line) this morning, when one did turn up it was so packed no one could get on. Went home in the end, dreading tomorrow - even if you get in there is no guarantee you'll get back home in the evening.

My trains generally depart on time but arrive at Cannon Street between 5 - 15 minutes late or are cancelled, have not caught a train that arrived on time in months and I keep a log of the time I arrive (Southeastern are directly responsible for this saddo behaviour). Oh well, what other choice do we have :-(

Chris Willard

I agree with most of the comments on here. People had some horrendous journeys and the information and mis-information is the worst of the situation. And we know a management decision to turn off the electronic information boards was taken to stop the commuters seeing their pointless service. One story of gross stupidity from my long journey home to lighten the mood last night. Having reached Chislehurst a broken down train and points failure stranded us. After a while, the driver said a train was coming and would get us to oprington, he opened the doors and we all got out and, 5 mins later it duly arrived. Once on, we realised it was the train to sevenoaks, much to our relief, we thought we had cracked it. Got to orpington, and the driver got out and went home, had done his hours. We found this out when one of the team of tree clearers, trying to get home, asked for us. We were told another driver would arrive at some point. Guess what, the train broke down and couldnt be started. Why, with 4 stops to complete the journey, did that prat leave us stranded? He could have done 15 mins more. Thanks moron. After many failed reboots of the trains systems the driver decided to get the train into the sidings and get another train out. Well done you. He did thid as the train would reverse and not go forward. We were one of the lucky groups, as a train actually turned up when he cleared the line, so many didn't get off Orpington, and i believe we were some of the last. South Eastern are not a customer service industry, just profiteers. Oust them, regardless of promised improvements. The paying customers deserve better than you can provide

TreeOnTheHayesLine?

God only knows what anarchy there'll be when the impoverished students of today become the Southeastern train commuters of the future!...

Hi-broomed

Chris- I was on that train! Luckily I was heading for Tonbridge and stayed on. We got going in about 30 minutes. But it certainly seemed like we could have been there for several hours.

As I read through the messages on this thread I'm spotting issues that I notice again and again and make me furious. I'm going to list them here. Why not print them out and stick them in your ticket wallet? The next time the nice chaps in purple suits are waiting at Charing Cross or Victoria to hear your opinion on the service, why not break out the list and recite it.

-Trains have been steadily less punctual over the last two months. I cannot remember the last time I arrived at Charing Cross without hearing the PA apologise for the late arrival. Ask the SE rep to remove those insulting signs raving about prompt trains and accept that trains are not arriving on schedule.

-Stations have been poorly manned and staff are occasionally rude. One of my favorite memories from the last 'snow siege' was asking one of the High Brooms staff if any trains were due in that day. His response: I don't care, I'm just waiting to retire. He's 55, by the way. What's even more shocking is that most High Brooms passengers will know exactly who I'm talking about. Tell SE reps that we are not there to be insulted by their staff. Treat their workers with more dignity and perhaps they'll treat us with some too.

Information systems are rarely correct/no one knows what's going on. SE has the worst communication I have seen at any company anywhere. This applies to the how information is passed to the passenger as well as amongst the staff. Currently the SE website lists every train from my station as running on time. As far as I know not a single train has even stopped at my station today. As for info at the station, it's seldom correct. In fact my iPhone app is usually more accurate than the displays and staff at my station. And if station staff and drivers don't know anything about when trains are actually due or where they might be going, they face the wrath of the passengers. This isn't the passengers' fault. Passengers are entitled to get angry when they're given scant or false information as this is part of what they pay for and also vital to their journey planning. Look at what happened to passengers last night who were wrongly guided to Swanley. How many hours would they have had to spend stranded on a cold platform before they would get seriously cold?

-The trains are filthy and the facilities are often out of order. In the past two months I've noticed an awful smell as I board trains at Charing Cross. This is most likely the toilets - which is surprising since they're almost never functioning. It's disgusting. We shouldn't be paying one of the world's highest per mile train fares to ride carriages stinking of human waste.

But then again we shouldn't be paying this much for any of it. And I can't believe we're going to have to pay more.

scott 7oaks

if they are able to put together a timetable in the first place how difficult is it to tell us when and where it isn't working?? I don't care if there's loads of snow and no trains...all I want is some bloody information. Spent 4 hours getting home last night and stuck in Orpington with a guard saying he couldn't get through to 'control'..imagine an aircraft pilot saying that! at least on a plane you get a seat, and even a hotel and bus transfer if you get delayed or cancelled. SE trains management sucks...they have some great staff on the ground but the idiots in the ivory tower need to get a reality check and sort this or do us a favour and leave.

John

Waited for nearly an hour and a half at Beckenham Hill this morning before going home and wasting a days annual leave - no northbound trains between 07:20 and 08:40. No staff at the station. Matrix boards showing a fixed message that there may be disruption to service - no updates given at all. No PA announcements - even the irritating automated ones. Snow lying on the northbound tracks seemed to indicate that no trains had actually been up the line at all, even the purported 'ghost trains' that were supposed to keep the lines clear. There were three southbound trains heading to Sevenoaks during this time, two of which stopped, so presumanly there was a log-jam of rolling stock gathering down in the suburbs...

I usually check the southeastern journey planner before setting out but over the last couple of days this has changed from being it generally useful interactive view, to only showing fixed info, presumably because the genuine live running info would contradict the blatant fiction in the contingency timetable that some sort of coherent service was actually running.

Unfortunately we've all allowed ourselves to sleepwalk into accepting a shoddy, overpriced train service. This is bad enough, but what is totally unacceptable in this age of instant mass communications, is the inability in provide the paying customer with the information they need to make an informed decision on how to plan their journeys. This may be incompetence, but I suspect that the main reason has more to do with protecting performance targets and avoiding penalty charges.

Whatever the reason, there needs to be an high level enquiry into Southeastern, and their franchise must be urgently reviewed. We the commuters also need to be treated with a damn site more respect considering the price we're paying for the service.

BritishMug

I've already paid for a season ticket from Sidcup to London, and have been messed about for 2 days now. Can't face anymore incompetence today, spending 3 hours travelling to work each way is no fun.
Just heard that the new fares are out too, just checked the season ticken calculator on National Rail. Ticket prices have increased 13%. What a farce? Where's the regulator, what's the government doing allowing this?

Archie

Just a word of defence for one guy that works for Southeastern - Mick at Sundridge Park is always there to help out and give as much info as he has. I used to go from Sidcup station and they never seemed to have a clue, but Mick is a champion and always has the latest news on connecting services.

However, Sundridge Park currently out of action because the Grove Park-Bromley N line is closed!

Lilndal

Ok so its blatantly highlighted continously through the media that travel (road,rail,air) will be difficult, if not impossible. You look out your window and you can see for yourself why. you consider your options, and by whatever means you check and research your options. Is it really plausable to expect a regular service, a straightforward journey, fully manned stations, up to date information, staff on hand to provide guidance etc...when in reality railway staff have to do the same as you prior to their journey to work. Reality is, communication breakdown occurs when very few staff are able to get to work by the start of service, so your not just looking at minimum station staff, the bigger picture involves the backroom guys, train drivers, managers, supervisors, signal men, track engineers, maintenance staff, IT staff, timetable planning, all these peices of the big puzzle must be available before the bigger picture can be finished. Its not easy trying to do your job and achieve something that resembles good communication/customers service at the stations when the tools we rely upon are not all available to produce the desired end product. ie trains/information about trains. Its wrong to expect people to put up with bad service, its awful that people are having a difficult and horrifying journey to or from work. Station staff who manage to get into work and actually care about their jobs/customers are embarrassed to have no/or little information to report. Abusing staff that have struggled to get to work themselves, bearing in mind that they invariably know what kind of working day they are going to have (shouting, swearing, insults and derision) is of no use, take off your blinkers people, this weather and the impact it has had on ALL our daily lives will have an affect on everything you do, from walking to the shops to find the bread could not be delivered, to breaking down in your car, to not having your bins emptied to finding the school is closed again, to getting in your car and taking a short trip to visit a sick friend, and it seems to be a big surprise to all but bus/air/car/and train travel is hit hardest! My advice is dont expect anything, not even pity.....the situation is obvious.

Dave M

Thank you, Archie. I have found that most of the Southeastern 'ground staff' (station staff and drivers, the ones who do most of the day-to-day customer-facing work) are generally helpful. However in conditions like we have this week, they suffer from the same total lack of information as us ordinary mortals. As has already been said, yesterday various pages on the Southeastern web site bore no relation to the real situation.
Even on a good day, our rail "services" are now being planned by remote people with no knowledge of local conditions or commuting patterns, and who don't give a monkey's. If you live in Kent and want to help do something about Southeastern, please send constructive emails to nick.chard@kent.gov.uk within the next week. KCC Councillor Nick Chard is preparing a Kent Rail Action Plan to be presented to the government and Southeastern early next year.

Arsbiscuits

My house backs on to the Ashford-Victoria line near West MAlling. We've got about 10in of snow now, and there has been one tester train at about 7, going the wrong way down the 'up' line. Hilariously, National rail website still shows every departure as normal. When conditions are this bad, why don't they just abandon the pretence of being able to run to any schedule, and just honestly say we will try to run trains when we can? Me and my partner both work in London; I can easily work from home (I work on an editorial website) but my partner's work isn't as easy to do from home.
Trains service recap: from 6.30am to now 8.27 there have been no trains London-bound from West Malling

Gonna Buy a Scooter

Live departures: Blackheath

Live departure boards are currently unavailable. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause you.

WHAT IS THE POINT IN THIS COMPANY WHEN THEY CAN'T EVEN PROVIDE ANY INFORMATION!!!!

Lalucia

I back onto the SE Train line Orpington to Victoria - same thing not one train has passed since yesterday evening. It is creepily silent.........

Leonardo

I know this is a SE trains thread (respect) but may I add....Southern Trains is pretty poor IMO. Yesterday at LB the Tannoy was turned off, presumably to save electricity! So we were all oblivious to what was happening, we stood and waited for a train, like hundreds of other mugs and we waited an waited. Nothing. The train remained closed, lights off, no one at home. We (some of us) then dashed off and found a W.Croydon train, curiously this "was" announced on the Tannoy...don't ask! I made it to W.Croydon and then got a connecting train to Wallington. I was pretty lucky, door to door in just over 2.5 hrs. I work in software/comms and the biggest failure and the easiest to fix, for me, is the lack of communication and the lack of a desire to fix it. This extends to Web Site info as much as Tannoy announcements. My mate (a Brit) lives in Sweden and he takes the piss out of us constantly, for our annual winter train service implosion. My New Yorker colleagues laugh and sneer at our shock when we report deep snow, 8-10 inches high. And will anything change? errrr....no.

Gareth19822002

Southeastern are a Joke. I get the train from New Hythe which is awful when the whether is fine. I managed to get to get to Strood on a bus yesterday and the High Speed train was running! But the normal trains can't. Rather confusing as until they get to the High Speed line both trains get powered in the same way!!

I stayed in Surrey last night and used South West trains this morning which again are powered in the same way as Southeastern and they now have the same amount of snow on the Woking line and I was 5 minutes late getting into Waterloo! Fantastic Service from South West Trains! Maybe Southeastern could learn a thing or 2!

CJS

The lack of communication that everyone is complaining about (and Southeastern should, by now, be aware of) is only getting worse. After the torture that was trying to travel home on Tuesday (and a Wednesday that I didn't even bother trying), I ventured out this morning to see what was up at my station, Chelsfield. Information via the internet, which is read and believed by those in my office, shows conflicting advice: everything from a normal service (WTF is with National Rail?!) or 'No service' (on Southeastern Trains main site), but with Live Departures from Chelsfield showing only slight delays. This is rubbish. I stood on the platform. I took photos of the 5 inch (or so) deep snow covering all the tracks, which proves nothing, NOTHING, has been through there for a while. Furthermore, BBC even sent someone to Orpington Station, relaying information that no trains would run..... Who do we believe? What can we do? How do I 'prove' to people at work that, yes, I cannot get in when nearly everyone else says (or lies) that I can? No information is bad enough, but misinformation is much, MUCH worse!

elizb

Today I've spend nearly 3 hours on the southeastern train from Dartford to Cannon St. which actually never made it through to London. It merely stopped in Barnehurst not having power to go further, eventually giving up and returning to Dartford.
Thanks for the ride Southeastern - what a waste of time and money!

Leonardo

Sorry to hear that, you make all that effort, they don't. Gutting. I am moving to Ashford next year and I look forward(sic) to sampling an even worse service than Southern provides.

Gavin

Nice to see somewhere for Southeastern train commuters to vent! I think most of us accept there are going to be disruptions in winter weather but the really infuriating aspect of all this is how little information we receive.
I managed to get in yesterday on a slow, crowded train in the morning through the fluke of being in the right place on the right platform at when a train randomly rolled in. There was no real warning a train was coming or where it was going. All I knew was it was pointing in the right direction and I was fed up being cold on the platform. On the way home I left early and expected to find services at Cannon Street as per the live updates on National Rail ( and what a joke that has become) but they were running two lines only and told us all to go to London Bridge. When we got there we found masses of confused people on the platforms, no information and no trains. It was like that bit in a disaster movie when it dawns on everyone that civilisation as we know it has ended. In the end I managed to get home by catching a tube, the DLR (journeys I had to pay for over and above my season ticket and then walking for half an hour through the snow.
It’s staggering how one of the key transport services into a major world financial centre seems to transform into a third world service as soon as the snow hits. It’s not as if the snow was not expected but yet again the same old failures appear. It is any wonder we as paying customers are so infuriated. If I did my job as badly as the profiteers of Southeastern trains I would have been unemployed ages ago.
Just once it would be nice to see one of the muppets that run Southeastern put their hands up and apologise to their customers. And on that note I can see a flying pig outside…
I used to commute on Southwest trains and recall one incident where there was a serious problem and delay on a train from Southampton to Waterloo. The guard kept everyone informed via PA system and by walking through the carriages and answering queries. He got information on possible connections for people with onward journeys and also had a phone with him for people who needed to make calls but did not have a mobile. He really did as much as he could to keep everyone informed. A far cry from what we put up with on SouthEastern.
So come on, does anyone have any ideas on how we can get these idiots to at least take note of our anger? The impression they give at the moment is that they couldn’t care less.

Rob

There is supposedly a "meet the managers" at Cannon St on 9th December in the morning so doooo vent your spleens.

I would love to but my train is always so late that there's no time to see them.......

London Stock Market

well seriously you cant blame them, such things happen is such weather conditions

Daernoult

I use the Chelsfield to Cannon Street service. Over the past two months this service has arrived late almost everyday. On top of this the 18.03pm service is always late upon it's arrival at Chelsfield, when it isn't cancelled. But the total lack of the correct information from Southeastern over this snow debacle takes the biscuit. What makes it worse is the deliberate misinformation that trains are running. This is a blatant lie. I bought a weekly season ticket and have only had two days use of it. Will I get a refund? Absolutely not. Southeastern, stop telling lies! Just make an announcement that you can't run any trains and we won't waste our time trying to get to stations that have no trains!!

Deji

Twice lucky two nights in a row from London Bridge to Grove Park, caught a train just within 10mins of getting to the station and the crowd wasn't that bad as it seems everyone is now avoiding the train stations. Im not praising SE Trains at all even if the snow is to blame for the chaotic London transport situation. I've stopped using Grove Park station for my journey to work in the mornings until the situation gets better. A bus Journey to Lewisham Station and the DLR to Bank Station sorts out my morning....

Maryjoy24

hi there i am travelling today from staplehurst to london bridge or even until charingcross, can anyone help me or at least give me an idea if trains are running? but if i need to be stuck in one station for long hours never mind. Because i'm absent from my work for 2 days now as the last time i tried to go back in london around wednesday i need to come back from tonbridge because one of the staff told me that there's no way going to london on that time because of the bad weather. I'm currently checking the sites of southeastern and saying few trains are running but when i came across this comments seems like the opposite of what they're telling or maybe if there are really trains running at the moment from these stations maybe i would experience the same thing with the other SE train commuters that they were stucked for few hours inside the train or in any station before they reach their destinations. Because if i would be experiencing the same better not to travel then today. Can anyone help me or gave me any idea or information that i need? Thanks a lot.

Gavin

I found the best real time updates of what is really happening were on google news which picks up Twitter feeds. There you've got people on stations and trains giving real time updates which are fare more reliable on SE or Nat Rail websites which are next to useless.

To be fair the driver on my SE train this morning was doing his best to keep everyone informed and thanking people for their patience and last night the station staff at Cannon Street were making an effort, even though there weren't many trains in evidence.

elmo

Oh joy! Back to work today, was the first one in the office at 8 am sharp! SE trains were 'ok' this morning !

Glyn

When M.P's travel by Southeastern commuter trains, then there will be change, but very few do. If they and the Southeastern management were to actually spend a few weeks on these trains. M.P's please note there are very few first class carriages and even fewer toilets available.

S N Barnes

Urge all to contribute to David Quarmby's review announced by SoS Phil Hammond MP (Weybridge - SW Trains). Nature abhors a vacuum and @_southeastern has been a good measure of what is happening and reminding all that the front line staff were as much in the dark as their passengers.

By contrast @LondonMidland (another Govia TOC) provided an exemplary twitter feed of information, and told people timeously of added coaches and trains where they were able to regulate the service and deal with overcrowding. @eurostarcomms went a little bit manic in the frequency of posting similar messages but again kept folk informed and @chilternrailways was boringly mundane "normal service" with occasional short trains or minor faults. South West trains commendably switched their website to a Snow Conditions state which showed a few lines on which no service would be running and timetables for the remaining lines were reduced to ensure that staff and trains were available with a bit in reserve for avoiding the highly predictable "waiting for traincrew on an incoming train" excuse.

One detail which bus operator Trent Barton really understands is that the best person to make decisions at the coal face are the front line staff - the bus drivers - and in this respect these staff are empowered to make decisions, which even if slightly wrong will be supported by their managers. The difference in staff morale and ability to act positively and fairly is I reckon strongly linked to the way they are managed. Good delegation and the support of good contingency cover (ie spare people & trains rather than pared to the minimum by the bean counters) makes a huge difference to the company repute with their passengers. TB drivers have the option to be nice "Forgot your bus pass dear - have this one on us , but do remember it next time (I won't forget - implied)". Imagine "Forgot your season ticket sir? Just swap details here and present it/confirm it with us next time you are here/or by e-mail"

Other factors which could have helped -
1) Snow Patrols - running ghost services to keep lines clear and rails scraped
2) Operating big trains - with 3 x 4-car units you get 3 lots of shoe gear clearing the rails and if one of the units rides up on to ice, the chances are the other two can drag the disabled unit back on to the juice (NB the ability to isolate traction motors and fine tune the way the train drives is often simplified on the older cruder deigns of train) Also consider operating a slower, and longer all stations service and no expresses.
3) Arc-proof the electronics - the old trains (like the Class 442 - 4x brute force motors deliver the fastest 3rd rail train in operation and the Class 455 operate on Southern (and SWT)) these can happily light up the sky at night with the arcs they draw in snow and ice conditions - some of the modern units are not so happy with this.
4) Make all trains interoperable so all can pull or push another train being driven from the front cab, and get a fleet of locomotives like those used by Virgin on electric trains (with the same Deliner Couplers as some SR/SET) to run with loco on front or rear as a normal service. (In this way the entire fleet could be standardised and the services limited to 4 coaches (diesel) could be operates by electric units with a diesel on the front - resolving overcrowding on Ashford-Brighton and Uckfield-London, as these trains can be extended at Hastings and Oxted - couple to E Grinstead/Eastbourne trains saving staff and track capacity) (Thunderbirds diesel options would also cut the use of buses when the 3rd rail is switched off for engineering work so this relatively small technical change could deliver an immense improvement in flexibility and contingency - but no one wants to pay for it - least of all the TOC's)

Guirilandia

I wonder how do they manage to keep the trains running in Russia with 10 times more snow and 20 times cheaper fares... they must be magicians...

Right now I'm filling out that form to ask for a total refund of my weekly pass. I didn't pay 83 pounds to have this kind of service.

np

Does anyone know if monthly/annual season ticket holders will get compensated, or do they officially have to canx all trains for that to happen? I suspect the latter even though most will have given up trying to get to work for 3 days becuase of the 5+ hours it was taking... I guess they'll just say it was our decision not to travel!

Still, my train home is back to the usual 20-30 minutes late that it's mysteriously been over the past few months. Anyone else noticed that?

Loulou

I travel from Staplehurst every day and the train is never on time. Twice in the last three weeks I have boarded the train at London Cannon Street - 17.45 - Ramsgate Service and it has been delayed than when we get to Tonbridge and we are all told to get off as the train is going fast to Ashford to make up time. The company is absolutely disgraceful and should most definitely have replaced. I am certainly not looking forward to the rest of the Winter, if last week is anything to go on, then I doubt I shall be able to get to work, I can't keep taking days holiday. Something must happen soon as the commuters on my line will start revolting.

Ed_lux

Is there anything we can collectively do about this totally unacceptable service?

It just seems that the service gets worse and worse and the price goes up and up and we collectively keep bending over and taking it!

I just want the people who are responsible to feel some of the pain we feel. Most of the other Rail companies around the country offer full refunds for poor service. These Jokers make it as difficult as possible and even then offer a discount off any future journeys!

Mass pettion?
Acts of civil disobediance?

Anwers on a post card;

jamesup

FGW passengers had a fare strike last year (or one before). Got lots of media.

NAP

Travelling in on my train last Friday morning, barely a week after all the chaos and already running 20 minutes late, a very brave old chap was handing out questionaires regarding the Southeastern service!

Is that rubbing salt in the wound or what?

I agree we all need to stand together to voice our opinions on the disgraceful service we endure almost every day but where do you start?

jonathan

i cant remember what day it was , but it was early this week.

All trains from Maidstone east was cancelled, the people at maidstone east arrange a fast train to ashford as an alternative so that we can get on the High speed service

then when we get on, there is a big announcement that anyone that came from maidstone east have to pay extra

thanks very much south eastern for taking the bloody p*ss, as if my £3,700 ticket is anot enough to ensure i get into london for work.

jonathan

while im at it , i want to have a rant about the carriages.

SouthEastern Trains listen up-- we are not cattle, stop deliberately putting 4 carriage trains where is there is 12 carriage worth of people, im taking about peak hours maidstone east services. Stop playing games with our trains and stop taking the p*ss , just because barming has a shorter platform doesnt mean you should herd everyone else from all the other stations into 4 carriages. You have had a few years to think about it , why dont you put more concrete down in barming and make it longer, its not bloody rocket science you fools.

EasierToWalk

The latest from SE trains website:

Saturday 18 December - We have been instructed by Network Rail to run a contingency timetable on Saturday 18 December.

Not even any snow to talk of, and they have decided to cancel services! They are utterly hopeless!

paolo

I recently had a reply to my request for compensation.
After the usual "it's not our fault, it's network Rail", (but my contract is with YOU, Southeastern! NOT Network Rail!!), I clicked on the link they gave for their performance figures, which suggests a 5% discount as their punctuality is at 82%, which is the threshold for a discount.
However, when I purchased my renewal today, the guy at the station told me that SE had instructed them not to give the discount.
To say I am fuming is understating it. I have missed two days work, for which I have to use two days holiday and had to take 3 taxis home, (at a cost of over £100 each), oh and staying at work for one night!
It really is about time that they were stripped of the franchise, they are far, far worse (IMO) than Connex were.

Guest

Southeastern as a shambles. None of their staff knew what was going on in the snow. The station staff said one thing (not much) and the train drivers another.

Even without snow my train is regularly cancelled, delaying my journey further into London enough so the tubes are a nightmare and I am late for work. It's a shame but I'll have to be using my 'snow alternative' route of bus then tube - not Southeastern.

Pull your fingers out Southeastern!

Guest

I hate them. I hate them I hate them I hate them I hate them I hate them I hate them I hate them.

paolo

Well, first week back at work, no snow and guess what?
My train has been late everyday!
82.04% punctuality, bollocks!!

londona729

High time for the railways to be Nationalised (again)!