Southeastern’s ‘communication crisis’ in the snow

In case you haven’t seen it already, transport blog London Reconnections has the best and most clear-sighted study of why and how Southeastern managed to screw things up so badly in this winter’s heavy snow.

Its main failing, it says, has been to rely too much on electronic systems to distribute information, instead of real live human beings…

Such a communication crisis could only have one solution – a human one. Here, however, Southeastern swiftly discovered that whilst shifting from highly-staffed operations to a more centralized, electronic approach is good for the bottom line, it is not particularly useful when you need bodies on the ground and out there communicating fast.

Friday night’s fiasco when trains ground to a halt and no explanation was offered to stranded passengers shows that this isn’t just a failing when it snows. Only today, passengers in Kent found themselves stuck for hours after a broken-down train brought the mainline to a halt.

To make matters worse for Southeastern, RMT members at Charing Cross and Victoria have voted for strike action over job cuts.