2nd Email to the Department for Transport

Response to Robert Baker at the Department for Transport sent in January 2011

Dear Mr Baker
I would like to draw your attention to the incidents that have happened during the course of this week and why we feel discriminated against as annual season ticket holders with Southeastern.
1 – On Monday 17 January – The 17:08 train from Cannon Street was delayed on the journey by about 20 minutes.  No reason was given as to this delay and we are due no compensation for any social activities we may have missed as a result.
2 – Tuesday 18 January – the fatality at Whitstable was a terrible tragedy for the person concerned and their family.  However, at no stage did Southeastern give any indication of emergency procedures to assist the affected passengers get to work.  1 person that I travel with was forced to take the day as annual leave.  Southeastern and Network Rail have a duty of care for all passengers and if this tragic incident or similar is repeated, we need to know what emergency procedures will be implemented.  It is not good enough to not communicate anything.  They need to have an emergency bus service that can kick in when an incident like this happens.  My sympathies are with the family and friends of the victim of this tragic incident.
3 – Wednesday 19 January – the 16:46 train from Cannon Street was so late arriving that it eventually left the station at 17:14.  I note with interest that Southeastern state that it arrived on platform before 17:00 yet we saw no train on there until after 17:00.  Perhaps this was an administrative error…   It was only 8 carriages and there were 2 complete train loads of people waiting to board it.  As you can imagine, there was chaos when it did eventually arrive. The train arrived at Herne Bay some 40 minutes after it was scheduled to but as it did not stop at London Bridge it will be removed from any reporting figures despite the fact that all of us on that train were late home.  This is a fundamental flaw in the reporting mechanism and urgently needs to be reviewed.
4 – Thursday 20 January – The 17:30 train from Cannon Street did not start and we were told to go to London Bridge for the next Ramsgate service.  I am not sure if you are aware of this Mr Baker, but London Bridge is not the biggest station and once again two trains worth of people were trying to get to Platform 5 (where we were told our train would arrive).  Now please keep in mind the sheer volume of people trying to get onto this next available service.  Whilst waiting at Platform 5, Southeastern in all their stupidity bring in a Tunbridge Wells Train on Platform 5 before the Ramsgate service.  So that equates to three trains worth of people crowding the platform area.  This is very dangerous and I would like to know who in their right mind allowed this Tunbridge Wells train to stop at Platform 5 when other platforms were vacant.
When the late running 17:56 Ramsgate train did finally arrive, there were yet more chaotic scenes as passenger scrambled to board.  The train was crammed with people and I was amazed there were no serious incidents.  As a result, I got home late and I had to forego yet another social appointment as a result of the ineptitude of Southeastern.  Yet you maintain there is no reason for them to be removed from the franchise.
I can only assume that by looking at the ‘massaged’ figures for this sorry excuse for a train operator you have become blinded by the stats.  If the sheer volume of complaints from passengers and MP’s does not convince you or the DfT that Southeastern is not fit to run Kent rail services that I can only assume you neither care about rail travel in Kent or you are somehow deluded by their distorted reporting figures.
One suggestion I would make to you is that you or anyone from the DfT gets off their backsides and travels on the peak services on offer to actually experience them, perhaps your opinion would soon change.  I, like the rest of my fellow commuters am waiting to see what happens for tonight’s journey home.  Let’s see what I can miss from my social calendar this evening as a result of the shambolic services rail travellers in Kent have to deal with on a daily basis.
John Nicholson
Alliance of Kent Commuters
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