Southeastern have begun consulting on timetable changes from December this year.
Considering they didn’t even know a month ago if they’d still be operating in December and are very unlikely to be doing so much into 2020, the changes are predictably minor.
In a nutshell High Speed and long distance journeys are sped up while Metro routes are slowed down.
There’s absolutely no changes to most lines such as the three Dartford line and Hayes as would be expected.
Continual delays in awarding a new franchise plus blocking devolution ensure no new trains will arrive soon to speed up journeys – and London Bridge rebuilding work was for the benefit of adding Thameslink services and not Southeastern so there’s no capacity at London terminals for any more trains without investment.
Any new trains would be expected to be slightly faster accelerating and designed for quicker boarding and exiting via wider doors and larger vestibules – but Southeastern are stuck with old stock.
On other routes out of Victoria metro trains are being slowed down to enable more timetable padding. Victoria to Gravesend via Bexleyheath will stop at Peckham Rye for longer. Victoria to Orpington will do the same at stations such as Brixton.
I know I go on about this a lot – but time to divert once again to the filthy condition of many trains. It’s often hard to see at peak times as so busy, but off-peak trips shows off how bad some are.
Stickers advising passengers of accessible seating for the disabled, parents and elderly is often ripped off and not replaced. The floors are bubbling again shortly after a legally obliged refurbishment. That was for disability legal requirements – though not all will be done which presents an issue of whether some stock can continue into 2020 – and where capacity reductions will occur.
When it comes to refurbishment, many franchises will take trains back to the shell and install new components. With SE it was the bare minimum. Panels and grills are still filthy and numerous seats loose.
This is all because no one knows what is happening months down the line.
Southeastern is a franchise badly in need of investment for suburban metro routes but none seems forthcoming anytime soon. A private company can’t be blamed for not spending big money if they will see no return – in this case the trains owners who Southeastern lease stock from. Neither the train’s owners (there’s two) nor Southeastern are a charity. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.
There’s no excuse though for minor things such as stickers for disabled seats not being in place – but again, the franchise system is at fault. Why hire new cleaners or station staff if the future is so uncertain?
The only certainty with this franchise is another Department for Transport mandated fare rise next year.
Click here to view consultation documents.
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