Southeastern say sorry – but still confident in new timetable

Southeastern have apologised for six weeks of disruption since timetables were revised in December.

Changes saw a hail of protest before adoption, which has only increased since changes begun as overcrowding and numerous issues – both down to Southeastern and external factors – have hit services on an almost daily basis.

Services were cut and destinations altered.

A busy London Bridge station at 11:30pm
London Bridge at 11:30pm as passengers forced to charge trains since timetable change

The apology states they believe things will come good – but how many will they drive away from travelling in the process?

After all, without any of those pesky passengers it’s much easier to run a service – but that isn’t much use for passengers forced on longer journeys, business reliant on employees being there on time and other businesses such as pubs and theatres having punters visit.

I’ve already all but given up where’s there’s an alternative. I wrote recently how getting home from the West End all but doubled in time.

Even the logo is peeling away

For one thing, the argument about having one terminal for each Metro line makes little sense post 10pm. There’s far fewer trains anyway, yet the new timetable makes service intervals longer and insists that those heading to, for example, the Woolwich line change at London Bridge (with up to 40 minutes wait now) when coming from the West End and Charing Cross.

Even when I got on a train, it was in such poor shape the interior saw metal which seemed to be warping or rusting causing cracks on covering plastic fittings.

Photo doesn’t quite capture what appears to be corrosion causing warping on panels

It all has the stench of a network falling apart.

Rationalising trains in the peak period may make sense on paper even if in reality it seems a bit of a mess so far, but for the leisure market at night?

Another factor behind making services generally follow a pattern of one metro line to one terminal was that a rebuilt London Bridge station was easy to change.

Guess what? Lifts and escalators are often out of order for days at a time. This was the message for some days last week:

Click to enlarge.

SE Metro has always appeared as the unloved child of the overall network. Since at least 2006 when the Integrated Kent Franchise (the name was a giveaway as to where attention lay) was awarded  which saw above-inflation fare rises introduced which at the time were the highest in the UK.

The Department for Transport – after awarding that franchise – then bumbled their way thorough years of short term franchise extensions with little to show.

There’s been short term patches such as the City Beams coming over from SWR. They were left without a home and to avoid political embarrassment of three year old trains sitting in sidings were transferred to Southeastern, but it was never part of any cohesive, holistic plan for Metro routes.

Funds have been tight for the network dating back some years.

Then there’s stations. For many, many years a large number have seen next to no staffing, regardless of local changes and new housing. On Saturday I was in Greenwich with a major event on in town.

Museums were opening late and a large-scale light show was to be put on at the Naval College.

With thousands expected to visit, here’s Greenwich station with closed ticket offices:

No ticket offices open

Where’s the staff?

Those they do employ are generally very good, but there’s so few of them at most Metro stations.

Reducing services brings that to the fore. Stations like Albany Park have seen services halved. Recent disruption exacerbate the issue. Yet on recent days no staff are at the station to assist passengers with a skeletal service.

Short staffing is widespread. At the time of writing Deptford had no staff, with no ticket offices open today at Crayford, Belvedere and Slade Green.

The last month’s problems are the culmination of many years of failure. Southeastern may well improve reliability in future but journeys will still be more difficult for many with services reduced while often filthy trains trundle along as government orders more fare rises.

Different train, lack of care still evident

The Department for Transport in effect run the franchise, micro manage and seek cuts at the behest of the Treasury. The damage that does to sustainable travel and business – let alone passengers lives – may be huge, but penny pinching rules for now.


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J Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

3 thoughts on “Southeastern say sorry – but still confident in new timetable

  • Penny pinching has ruled the Tories for decades except when it comes to giving money and contracts to Tory donors, friends family and business associates. meanwhile the public purse strings are tightly bound. Grrrr

  • Financial idiocy again as cuts simply drive people and revenue away from Southeastern. Then there’s wider economic ramifications for west end businesses from a reduction in public transport services and resulting custom.

  • Railways need to be run by the government full stop.


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