Southeastern continues its information whiteout


I took a big chance today. I took a trip on Southeastern trains. In the snow. You know what? It wasn’t too bad. I got to where I wanted to go on time. The trains were running sort of okay, although I counted two cancellations in the opposite direction as my train left London… and came back in again to Sidcup.

At Sidcup, I saw that Southeastern was continuing its usual firm policy on fare evasion and ticket sales…

Anyhow, since there’s white stuff on the ground, Southeastern and Network Rail have decided to give up and run a contingency timetable for Saturday, the busiest shopping day of the year. Good luck with that… the Greenwich line trains will a run a measly two trains each hour (compared with four via Bexleyheath), but running further out into snow-prone deepest Kent than other lines so if the trains are screwed at Strood, the service will also be up the wall at Woolwich Dockyard. Thanks for that, Southeastern.

So what times are our generous two trains each hour (surely fewer trains equals more chance for the rails to ice up?) running from Charlton? It doesn’t say, because the timetable only gives the times at Gillingham and Cannon Street. It’s not like we might like to make any arrangements or anything.

Again, most passengers can understand the reason for disruption. But dumb communication like this is why people get angry. Southeastern still isn’t learning.

9:30PM UPDATE: This gets worse. Thanks to commenter scarletmanuka for pointing out that there’s two different versions of Southeastern’s Saturday contingency timetable doing the rounds – the one on the Southeastern website, and one on the National Rail Enquiries website. Both carry Southeastern branding, but both carry conflicting info.

For the Greenwich line, the version on the Southeastern site says it is running two trains per hour to/from Gillingham, calling at all stations. The National Rail Enquiries version has two sets of Greenwich line trains, one running limited stop to Gillingham, the other calling at all stops. Which is correct? I suspect it’s the former, because the NRE version mentions Cannon Street being open until 8.30pm (which it isn’t on Saturday), but who knows? And why didn’t Southeastern make sure both sites were offering the right information?

If you’re doing your shopping tomorrow, I’d get the bus if I were you.

11 comments

  1. Not necessarily all stations via Greenwich if the National Rail version is anything to go by… there’s no mention of Westcombe Park or Maze Hill. As if any of us would want to use a train on Saturday, or have helpful consistent advice about how we might do so.

  2. 4 an hour on the Bexleyheath line? My arse! Just looking at the NR live departure board, all but 1 Charing Cross train between 9-10 has been cancelled or delayed. Same between 10-11.

  3. If you go onto the National Rail site this morning (Sat) it shows a two-stop journey from Greenwich to London Bridge. DLR to Shadwell, East London ovwerground to New Cross then train to L Bridge or DLR to Limehouse, train to West Ham then Jubilee line to London B. (Why not DLR to Canary Warf & then Jubilee?)

  4. South West Trains are just as bad.

    From http://www.southwesttrains.co.uk/engineeringwork.aspx#en9bfd56664f48998a0a29e5cf9d8d21

    There will be no service on the following routes:

    * Motspur Park – Chessington South
    * Teddington – Shepperton
    * Ascot – Ash Vale
    * Hounslow – Whitton
    * Surbiton – Hampton Court
    * Virginia Water – Weybridge

    Replacement bus services will not be provided, and details of any ticket acceptance with local bus companies or other train operating companies is not yet known.

  5. Quick update – I took the journey from canterbury to london a few weeks back in the last bout of snow, but I didn’t see much improvement on their customer service on a similar journey yesterday.
    Last night the trains were at that point running – but but there hadn’t been as much snow yet, practically none in Canterbury. What really annoyed me again was the lack of information and the disinterestedness of staff. The train due at 19.35 was on the electronic screens but then after a few mins disappeared and was replaced with ‘1st train at 20.07’ to London Charing Cross. No announcement whatsoever, no notice on the screen to say whether or not this train had been cancelled, or what was going on.

    The other thing I noticed, immediately the 1st train time disappeared, the only staff member visible on the platform literally (and I’m not exaggerating), ran off the platform up some stairs and disappeared god knows where. Suspicious timing I thought…Just like last time. Are they told by management to avoid customers when things go wrong? That’s what it seems like.

    No one inside the ticket office, not even a board with any information on. Sorry. This just isn’t good enough. Southeastern weren’t answering the phone helpline either at the help point, so got connected to national rail who as usual didn’t know much and I got cut off halfway through. Had to resort to shouting across to the other platform to a member of staff who finally appeared, cleaning out the bins. Not interested once again, couldn’t be bothered to cross over the platform to see if he could help.

    South eastern *still* don’t seem to realise that it isn’t the snow that annoys people – it’s the complete lack of any information as to what the hell is going on or even a show of interest from the staff. Even a ‘I’m really sorry, I don’t know’ is better than complete avoidance!

  6. Credit where it is due – trains seeming to be running pretty much as normal today, despite it feeling like there has been more snow around here than a couple of weeks ago.

    Suppose the true test though will be tomorrow morning…

  7. The trains did run well on Sunday – I caught one! – but just as importantly, the information boards were left switched on, so we could see that for ourselves.

    On Saturday night, the boards were switched off with another useless generic message on them…

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