SouthEastern Trains

I get into work in one of two ways, either on my bicycle or on the train.  The routes that I use come up through North Kent, through South East London and then into Charing Cross or Cannon Street.  Over the Christmas period the service was nothing short of awful.  I appreciate that the heavy snow made things difficult but a cursory look at the internet will show you a host of people who feel hugely disappointed and let down by the company, a situation not helped by the company only scraping in above their compensation target by running a skeleton service over those snowy days.

The relationship between London Government and the Train Operating Companies (TOCs) is an awkward one. We need to work with them to ensure integration into the TFL system and ensure that things like the roll out of Oyster Cards on the rail system works, however we have no formal control over them and little formal way to hold them to account.

Yesterday at Mayor’s Questions the Lib Dems tried to make some political capital from the widespread disappointment felt by may commuters by attacking the Mayor about the TOCs performance, they know full well that the Mayor cannot control the actions of the TOCs any more than they can.  I have written to SouthEastern Trains, both in terms of their general performance and about specific issues on behalf of constituents who have contacted me, but without a formal remit over surface rail provision there isn’t very much more that I, as an Assembly Member, can do.

I think that there are two things which should be changed to give London politicians more power to hold the TOCs to account.  The first is to give the Transport Committee of the London Assembly the power to call the TOCs in for questioning, at the moment we can invite them but cannot compel them to attend.  Being able to make them attend will enable us to put them under the same level of scrutiny that TFL currently enjoy.

The second change would be for the Mayor and Assembly to have a significant say in the awarding of the franchises for the suburban commuter routes which mainly serve Londoners.  While having an informal relationship with the TOCs can bring about improvements, the Oysterisation of the surface train stations for example, it is not the same as having some real leverage in the relationship.

Londoners feel let down by the TOCs and my constituents feel particularly angry at SouthEastern, and I’d like to be able to do something about that.

4 responses to “SouthEastern Trains

  1. I have written previously to the Mayor with no reply as yet over the continued poor performance of Southeastern and the damage it has to commuters from Kent to London. My other concern raised was the implications the poorly managed Southeastern franchise could have on the London 2012 Olympics.

    The continued refusal of Charles Horton to allow the empty highspeed trains to stop at Deal station will have serious implications to the transportation of sporting fans to this year’s British Golf Open. As already covered by Fox Sports News this is raising questions over the ability to meet transportation needs during the Olympics.

    http://msn.foxsports.com/golf/story/New-call-for-highspeed-trains-in-time-for-Open-58213300

  2. Some of the urban South East and South Central routes should be split from the Kent and Sussex services and transferred to TfL.
    At present TfL Rail almost entirely runs a service north of the river, ignoring huge sections of London south of the river.

    The Bellingham – Victoria and SLL could possibly have been saved by TfL rather than being sacrified by TOCs and DfT at the expense of South London Commuters. Now it looks like Woolwich or Abbey Wood on Crossrail will be lost to cut costs. The only development that seems safe is wasting money extending the Northern Line to Battersea power station when it should go in entirely the opposite direction.

    The mayor actually has a lot of power and influence over TOCs than he might realise, but he is letting them run the show. Ken proved that he could stand up to them and got more for Londoners as a result.

  3. I don't know what the solution is to the Southeastern problem but al I know is that as a commuter I am being ripped off, staff are unhappy and Southeastern are actually being paid to make the service as bad as they can. It's a little advertised system called revenue support.

  4. You omit to mention that you presented an award to Southeastern at the very height of the latest issues with this dreadful company. Those interested in Mr Cleverly's presentation alongside Southeastern's MD Charles Horton can read about it in Southeastern's news section on its site. Not that awkward a relationship then. Bizarre that whilst so many Tory MPs were livid with Horton because of their own experience and that of their constituents, Mr Cleverly chose to do this.

    The service has always been awful. November/December was just business as usual but with colder weather.

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