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“Please help me persuade Southeastern to provide more carriages to their very packed trains ” – Christine Austin

Description

Christine Austin

Please, please can we have longer carriages in the South East.

The South East has recently been flooded with new build properties - thousands! Since going back to work, there have been cancellations at Westcombe Park Station nearly every day, plus short trains being provided, i.e. only 6 carriages when we need at least 10 carriages.

Today, 12 January 2012, only 4 CARRIAGES were provided for the 7.31, which, of course, arrived late due to people trying to get onto the carriages!

Thank you for listening, from one very squashed passenger!

Problem History

  • 1 Christine Austin reported the issue on FixMyTransport. close 09:43 12 Jan 2012
  • 2 Christine Austin wrote to Southeastern close 09:43 12 Jan 2012

    Here is the letter that Christine Austin wrote.

    Short trains and cancelled trains

    Please, please can we have longer carriages in the South East.

    The South East has recently been flooded with new build properties - thousands! Since going back to work, there have been cancellations at Westcombe Park Station nearly every day, plus short trains being provided, i.e. only 6 carriages when we need at least 10 carriages.

    Today, 12 January 2012, only 4 CARRIAGES were provided for the 7.31, which, of course, arrived late due to people trying to get onto the carriages!

    Thank you for listening, from one very squashed passenger!

  • 3 Christine Austin asked for advice. close 09:47 12 Jan 2012

    Please could you tell me why South Eastern trains are providing only 4-6 carriage trains at peak times in the mornings when thousands of commuters are trying to get to London?

  • 4 Christine Austin asked for advice. close 09:47 12 Jan 2012

    Please could you tell me why South Eastern trains are providing only 4-6 carriage trains at peak times in the mornings when thousands of commuters are trying to get to London?

  • 5 Christine Austin added an update close 09:47 12 Jan 2012

    Have asked an expert.

  • 6 Paul Hollinghurst commented close 10:33 12 Jan 2012

    Christine,

    FixMyTransport volunteer here about your request for advice about train overcrowding.

    There are probably parts to your question, firstly whether there are enough train in the South East for peak services, and secondly whether there are specific problem on services from your station.

    To cover the first point, a number of train orders have been placed or are proposed which should help the South East in general, although these will take a number of years to deliver.

    1200 carriages for Thameslink (due to be delivered from 2015 to 2017)
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13792510

    130 carriages for Southern (due in service in December 2013)
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-16344487

    60 former Gatwick Express carriages being refurbished for use on South West Trains (due to be delivered in 2013/4)
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-16314381

    Provision of carriages for the peak is expensive as the extra carriages are only used in the morning and evening peak which is why they can be difficult to justify.

    Regarding the second point, I don't know of anything specific which would affect the South Eastern trains service from Westcombe Park Station so it would be best to see how South Eastern trains respond to your question. If it is a recurring problem then it would help if you kept a diary of cancellations and overcrowding as this will make it easier make a case that there is a particular problem there. The Operators do keep a track of overcrowding, but won't have the detail that a regular passenger can provide to determine whether, for example, the problem is due to reduced length trains, cancellations, or just an inadequate service.

    The punctuality and cancellation figures for South Eastern are here:
    http://www.southeasternrailway.co.uk/about-us/performance-figures/
    Their target is for less than 1% of services to be cancelled, and they are achieving this measured over their whole network.

    I hope this helps.

    Paul

    anorak
    admin
  • 7 Christine Austin wrote to Southeastern close 10:43 12 Jan 2012

    Could you please provide more carriages on your trains on this line. Today,
    12 January 2012, I had to push myself onto a 4 carriage train, leaving many frustrated passengers still on the platform at Westcombe Park station.

    As you know, this line has become very, very busy, due to thousands of new build properties being erected near all of your stations. To provide 6 carriages on your trains at peak time is outrageous, let alone 4 CARRIAGES!!

    Please stop reducing your train stock on this very busy line, and stop cancelling so many trains at peak times, where we, as passengers, pay the top price for our train tickets.

    I know that many other companies are expanding their train carriages to 12.
    I hope that this will be the case for Southeastern trains.

  • 8 Gary Williams commented close 13:25 12 Jan 2012

    In many ways this mirrors my own comments here -> http://www.fixmytransport.com/campaigns/deal-with-the-large-amount-of-broken-down-trains

    There are HUGE amounts of short formed trains which ARE due to train faults - faults that southeastern won't clear because it'll cost them and so cost the shareholders.

    How is any of this improvements on services?

  • 9 Paul Hollinghurst commented close 14:39 12 Jan 2012

    Christine,

    Here is some information about fares and service reliability in relation to an earlier question.

    A cost breakdown for operating passenger trains was recently published by the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC):
    http://www.atoc.org/media-centre/latest-press-releases/rail-fares-for-2012-now-available-100651
    For every pound of income that train companies receive:
    48p goes to Network Rail (which charges operators to run trains on the tracks) and other infrastructure costs
    17p goes on staff costs
    17p goes on miscellaneous costs (including train maintenance, administration, contractors)
    11p goes on leasing trains
    4p goes on fuel / energy
    3p goes to train company profit
    As you can see company profit is a very small proportion of the total .

    Some more information from other sources:
    The level of subsidy is comparable or higher than for other European countries such as France so again this is not the issue.

    The service is reasonably good compared to other European countries, as detailed in this European Study where the UK for example, does better than France, Germany, Italy and Austria in 13 of the 19 categories (although this needs to be taken with some caution as some of the categories are much more important than others).
    It measures well for punctuality, but it will come as no surprise that it is poorly rated for overcrowding and the report does not cover value for money.
    http://ec.europa.eu/transport/rail/studies/doc/2011_06-survey-passengers-satisfaction-with-rail-services.pdf

    There is a detailed comparison of UK and European rail fares here by Passenger Focus in a report commissioned by the government in 2008:
    http://www.passengerfocus.org.uk/news-and-publications/document-search/document.asp?dsid=2526
    “Its key findings are that commuting to London is expensive when compared with other principal European cities, although train frequency in Britain is generally higher. On long distance trains it is possible to travel more cheaply in Britain than elsewhere in Europe – if you manage to buy an Advance purchase ticket at the lowest price. However, our long-distance ‘walk up’ railway is expensive when compared with other countries.”

    In summary:
    The real problem is poor efficiency leading to very high costs within the industry, particularly within Network Rail. Network rail costs are almost half of the total.

    This is being looked into by the government, although it may be difficult to fix due to the complex web of commercial contracts which are in place to support the current structure. You will notice that ATOC mention nothing about this in their statement.

    I hope this helps give picture of where the money is going at the moment.

    Paul

    anorak
    admin
  • 10 Paul Hollinghurst commented close 17:30 12 Jan 2012

    Gary, Thanks for the interesting link to another campaign about the problems with the reliability of Southeastern's service. It will be interesting to see what Southeastern say about Christine's recent experience. Paul

    anorak
    admin
  • 11 Chris Smith commented close 17:57 12 Jan 2012

    Sorry to be a depressant, but overcrowding is endemic and will remain so, partly because of the franchising system, which discourages franchise holders from doing anything innovative, and partly because governments never invest sufficient in infrastructure. Even more cynically, it is undoubtedly the case that the recent fare increases are intended in part to reduce overcrowding by making train travel unaffordable for some. Having said that all governments are to blame, it is clear that Conservative governments (the Conservatives privatised the railways) are worse than Labour (who didn't change the Conservative's system).

    anorak
  • 12 Gary Williams commented close 18:13 12 Jan 2012

    Absolutely but the problem is exacerbated when a service is short formed, i.e. made up of 4 carriages rather than 8. If this was an exception you could forgive them but Southeastern does seem to have a policy of shortening carriages to avoid paying out for maintenance.

  • 13 Lionel Orens commented close 21:18 21 Jan 2012

    Hi,

    I'm considering moving to Blackheath, and would probably be using Westcombe Park station (train to London Bridge).

    Noticing your comments, I was wondering how easy/difficult it would be to get on a train between 7.45 and 8.15.

    Thank you

    Lionel

  • 14 Lionel Orens commented close 21:23 21 Jan 2012

    Hi,

    I noticed your comments on Southeastern.

    I'm actually about to rent a property close to Westcombe Park station, and would be taking a drain to London Bridge on a daily basis (probably between 7.45 and 8.15).

    I was wondering how bad the overcrowding actually is? How long to you normally have to wait to get on a train?

    Kind regards

    Lionel

  • 15 Chris Ferguson commented close 22:16 22 Jan 2012

    Lionel,

    Trains on this route are very busy at the times you would be looking to use them. I have given up trying to travel comfortably and reliably on this line between 7 and 9am when possible - the 901 from Westcombe Park to Charing Cross seems to be more sane, and is the service I use most often - diverting to others when work *really* needs me to be in the office before 10am.

    The evenings are pretty horrid whenever I use them, mostly due to crowding, drunkenness, late running, random smells of hash, urine or faeces. Plus people are more irritable 'coz they just want to get home.

    Your mileage and standards may vary.

  • 16 [email address] responded to Christine Austin close 12:26 25 Jan 2012
    Please do not reply to this email. We are unable to respond to
    emails we receive at this address. If you’d like to email us
    another question or comment please use our email contact
    webform:
    http://www.southeasternrailway.co.uk/abo...

    Thank you

    Southeastern Customer Relations, PO Box 63428, London, SE1P 5FD

    Tel: 0845 000 2222

    Ref: 521796 / 293085

    Dear Ms Austin

    Thank you for your email of 12^th January.

    I am sorry you have had reason to contact us because your trains
    from Westcombe Park have recently been formed by fewer carriages
    than usual. Please accept my apologies for this and for any
    discomfort caused.

    To clarify the position, we have a fixed number of trains that
    we can use at any given time, and although we plan maintenance
    work carefully, there are times when more units are needed for
    essential maintenance and refurbishment programmes. This is
    currently the case. We have several necessary engineering
    programmes running at once – for example, we are replacing some
    components on our Networker trains that are reaching the end of
    their time. Unfortunately, as the trains are all about the same
    age - and have run similar numbers of miles - they need to have
    parts replaced/refurbished at the same time, and this has
    resulted in some trains running with fewer carriages than usual.
    Whenever possible, we do endeavour to ensure that the same
    trains aren’t short-formed regularly – but, unfortunately, there
    are times when some services are affected more than others.
    Please be assured, however, that we are working hard to service
    and deploy all of our units as quickly as possible.

    Thank you for contacting us and, once again, I am sorry that
    your trains have been more crowded than usual because of the
    short formations.

    Yours sincerely

    David Eustace

    Customer Relations Officer

    Southeastern

    Please do not reply to this email. We are unable to respond to
    emails we receive at this address. If you’d like to email us
    another question or comment please use our email contact
    webform:

    Disclaimer

    This email and any attachments (together "this email") are
    strictly confidential and intended solely for use by the
    individual or entity to whom they are addressed. Unauthorised
    use of this email (including disclosure, copying and printing
    for any reason) is strictly prohibited.

    Southeastern denies any responsibility and liability in relation
    to the transmission and use of this email to the extent
    permitted by law. Any views expressed by an individual within
    this email do not necessarily reflect the views of Southeastern.

    Any emails sent to Southeastern personnel may be monitored by
    systems or persons other than the addressee for purposes of
    ascertaining whether they comply with Southeastern’s policies.

    If you have received this email in error, please notify the
    sender immediately by email, facsimile or telephone.

    Please visit our website at: www.southeasternrailway.co.uk

    London & South Eastern Railway Limited is a company registered in England (No.04860660). 
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  • started 12 January 2012
  • supporters 5
Westcombe Park Rail Station in Charlton operated by Southeastern
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