Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Southeastern Trains snow shutdown "unnecessary"

The shutdown of Southeastern Trains last month was "bizarre" and may have been an attempt to fiddle performance statistics, the head of TfL alleged today.

Transport for London Commisioner Peter Hendy told the TfL board that the restrictions were "unnecessary," "odd" and "not replicated elsewhere."

"The Mayor wrote to the Secretary of State about Southeastern Trains who alone amongst the Train Operating Companies decided not to operate either early in the morning or late at night... and actually prevented a lot of people from SE London from getting in to work which we thought was unnecessary and not replicated elsewhere on the Southern system...

"It significantly curtailed people's ability to work during normal hours. In fact I think the first train from Bexleyheath to London for the first full week in January was half past eight in the morning which is pretty odd especially when established railway practice, when you have got third rail operation in cold weather, is to run your trains all night. So it seems a bit bizarre to actually turf people off them and run without them all night."

Asked what he thought Southeastern's "motivation" may have been, Hendy replied:

"Well I would like to think it was an aberration but I would also not like to think that it might be due to the fact that if you operate a very restricted timetable and it's implemented in the way the franchises are measured, then operating a very high percentage of a very restricted timetable gives you a very good performance result."

Southeastern have repeatedly laid the blame for their performance on the extreme weather conditions despite all other London lines operating a much better service.

However, if they really did restrict their service, in order to massage performance figures, then they have a very serious case to answer.

The only question is whether anyone will now hold them to account?

For full coverage of the Southeastern debacle read Bexcentric, Tom Royal, 853 and Blackheath Bugle


Chris said...

However bad they might be at least they're not Connex.

AdamB said...

That's not really not much of a recommendation. Has the service really improved that much under them anyway? It's difficult to judge after last month.

darryl said...

The service improved once Connex had been given the boot and state-run Southeastern took over in 2003, with a very visible boss in the shape of Michael Holden.

After the government privatised Southeastern again in 2006, things started to drift once again.

AdamB said...

I'd like to think that they've had such a bashing over the snow failure that they will improve their performance in future. Unfortunately it seems to have been largely ignored by the press thus far.

Anonymous said...

Sign the petition to take back Southeastern's franchise

Anonymous said...

The performance of South Eastern during the bad weather after Christmas and during January was a disgrace. I have travelled using South Eastern (BR and private) to London for 30 years and have never known it impossible to reach my destination for a week. A day or two, yes - a week, never! For South Eastern to lay the blame on Network Rail for the emergency timetable begs the question of who is running the service.

The new timetable has decimated mainline services following the introduction of the "High Speed". High Speed? - from Faversham to London is actually ONE MINUTE faster than it used to be to Victoria. But the Victoria trains have been slowed down with additional stops so they are actually slower. And what is high speed (for which a supplement is effectively charged) - these trains are capable of 140mph but I understand are actually running at 125mph - we've had 125mph running (without surcharges) since 1976 on services out of Kings Cross. Many longer distance passengers were better served pre-South Eastern High Speed.