Southeastern’s Chief Exec has today announced that additional services and carriages are set to run from next week after eight weeks of problems since timetable changes.
While many issues are beyond Southeastern’s scope, recent changes including a reduction in services, oddly spaced gaps between remaining services and enforced changes at London Bridge appear to exacerbate issues when a problem does arise.
It’s also notable that on days when no external problems exist, trains arriving on time still hover around 60-70 per cent on Metro services in the peak.
Southeastern is now a wholly-owned Government company and the Treasury and Department for transport have been pushing cuts across the rail network which has also seen reductions in trains at South Western Railway and Southern in recent months.
All rail operating companies whether private or state-controlled now receive a set fee from the DfT – who call the shots – with all fare revenue heading straight to the treasury. Cuts from a rail company do not boost their profits.
Recent weeks have also seen numerous signal failures on the Southeastern network which is the fault of Network Rail. While Southeastern face a barrage of complaints, questions need asking of NR.
Last night’s meltdown – which finally saw regional outlets such as BBC London cover the issue – was down to a trespasser.
So while it’s been a bad few weeks for external issues, the timetable itself amplifies problems.
Another issue is London Bridge is now being a place for interchange as Metro lines have generally been rationalised to serve one London terminal, yet lifts and escalators are out of order for days at a time.
This is funnelling passengers to remaining stairs and lifts and causing scenes seen last night.
Some have called for a timetable reversal though this is easier said than done.
Timetables are normally drawn up many, many months before implementation and submitted to Network Rail for approval.
Southeastern services including Metro have to work around services from Thameslink.
To go back means to have other networks change – and that is something that seems very unlikely anytime soon.
UPDATE: It appears no extra services are on the three Dartford metro lines nor the line to Hayes from This Monday 2nd February. Instead additional trains are the 1736 & 1805 from Cannon Street to Orpington.