More made up PPM data from Southeastern?

29 Dec 2016

Oops they’ve done it again

I was a bit suspicious with Southeastern’s latest PPM figures, so did a quick analysis.

You can see it below - pay attention to the yellow highlighted cells.

PPM Targets

For the most recent period (P9) the PPM target is apparently +0.09% from P8, however the average per line is -0.68%. For comparison the previous two period averages roughly equal the overall PPM target.

PPM actuals

But look at the actual results - southeastern are claiming 78.42% but the average per line is -11.55% vs P8, whilst their overall average is nearly half that at -5.88%

So are Southeastern telling lies about PPM? Or is this another marketing blunder?

For reference, this was covered over at DRTA earlier in the year (archive.org link)

Stop lying, or pay more attention

Or both.

I did raise this earlier in the month with Southeastern on twitter but was ignored.

So let’s see the facts before us:

  • nothing has changed on this obviously wrong data
  • no response has been given

So they’re knowingly putting out incorrect data to fool passengers that they are less delayed than they are.

Absolutely abysmal service from Govia Southeastern.

footnote

On Network Rail’s site the overall PPM for P9 is 73.8% - so how are Southeastern getting away with misleading their customers?


A convenient relationship between Govia and DfT

20 Dec 2016

A happy relationship between the DfT and Southeastern

I’ll start this post by looking back to a previous Freedom of Information (FOI) request that I made to the Department for Transport (DfT) about Southeastern.

It was back in March 2016, when I made an FOI request to find out how Southeastern were performing against their internal targets with the DfT - read about this here.

After sitting opposite David Statham a few days later, and him gloating at how the data won’t be released due to commercial interests, I got it after filing another FOI to DfT to point out that their excuses (obviously given to them by Southeastern) were wrong.

But it does beg the question - why are the DfT asking Southeastern for information about past events and how their performance is?

My requests are to a public body (the DfT) about data they should hold, if they are actually ensuring that their rail franchises are being properly managed, and meeting the requirements that the DfT have set out.

Loved up?

From the recent lack of action from DfT with Govia’s Southern franchise (Govia run Southeastern), it does make you wonder if there’s some sort of love-in between Govia and the Dft, doesn’t it?

Why do the DfT need to ask Govia’s permission to release data that the DfT hold? Surely this is in the public interest.

And as I have already shown, it is.

National Rail Passenger Survey

Every 6 months, we see... [more]

I've been on the naughty step

05 Sep 2016

UPDATE 1: 13th September 2016 - scroll down!

Southeastern blocked me on twitter

But not for long.

One of my twitter clients showed some odd activity on DMs marked as 2 days ago (as of Monday morning - so occurring sometime on Saturday)

I went to look for why my train was slow down the Bexleyheath line and found that my account had been blocked by Southeastern

Southeastern blocked me

Why?

Who knows why

Their ‘rules of engagement’ surrounding blocking state:

We will always be polite and considerate to our followers and ask that you communicate with us in the same way. We won’t engage with Tweets that are abusive. In cases of repeated / sustained abuse, we may have no choice but to block the account(s), but we hope this won’t be necessary.

Abuse leads to blocking?

Have I abused them? No

However I did call one of their parent companies out for lying in their recent Annual report, where they state:

Living Wage claim

Which is untrue, as I’ve raised in April 2016 - here on Southeastern Rail Action Group.

As well as in my own personal blog in August 2015 - also covered by the Evening Standard’s website

I very rarely delete my tweets (unless I’ve totally screwed up on grammar to make the tweet unintelligible) so you can view my tweets to them in the... [more]

Dear Richard, stop rip-off 0843 numbers

06 Jul 2016

Complaint and contracts calls must be 01/02/03

This change happened in June 2014. Companies have had 2 years to adapt to this, well 2.5 years if you add in the 6 month warning they were given in Dec 2013.

Virgin on the illegal

I emailed Virgin Wines last Friday to ask to put my “Discovery Box” deliveries on hold. I had no room for them and won’t drink much in the coming weeks.

No response on Tuesday. I can only guess that was so that the box gets delivered and they get their £100.

I didn’t want to have to deal with that argument so figured a quick call would resolve it. I still wanted to just pause the deliveries for a few months

0843, 0843, 0843…

The only contact numbers were 0843 prefixed.

Virgin Wines 0843

But wait, that’s been illegal for 2 years. So I checked the guidance on the gov.uk site and found this applies to contract and complaint related calls.

I looked up the EE calling costs: 44p/min (EE take this as an access charge PER MINUTE - updated) and 7p/min (service charge - Virgin Wines get a chunk of this). So just over £1 if I get the call completed in less than 2 minutes. Updated thanks to @g1smd

However, Virgin Wines only offering 0843 calls is illegal. It has been for 2 years.

I’m sure it’s a genuine mistake, after all a company that... [more]

My views on the National Rail Passenger Survey results

30 Jun 2016

15% below target

So the NRPS results are in, overall satisfaction falling by 6% to 69% an all time low for southeastern, who set themselves a target to maintain satisfaction at “the highest levels achieved in 2013”. Which was 84%

More PR nonsense from Statham

I read Southeastern’s response, I watched the video.

The usual blame of London Bridge and also events happening across the network

But this time David Statham didn’t talk about what’s in “his gift”

Why?

Let’s look at some individual parts of the survey…(the numbers are year on year comparing to last Spring’s result)

  • Provision of information about train times/platforms: -4%
  • The attitudes and helpfulness of the staff: -7%
  • Your personal security whilst using the station: -5%
  • How request to station staff was handled: -9%
  • Upkeep and repair of the train: -3%
  • The provision of information during the journey: -7%
  • The availability of staff (on train): -6%

David Statham is failing

The opinions of those surveyed clearly show information and communication is getting worse

Something definitely within Statham’s “gift”

The ongoing lack of turning heating off on networkers is also within his managerial “gift” - to make this happen and to stop people fainting on trains as was tweeted yesterday.

He is a failed leader of his team, and he needs to go.

It’s time for someone who cares about the rail users of SE London and Kent.

That someone isn’t Statham or Govia.


There's something rotten at Southeastern

24 Jan 2016

Disclaimer

Before I start, and because some people don’t read my twitter description, or a website’s about page:

These are my own personal views, and do not necessarily reflect the views of any organisation or company that I am involved in, including but not limited to: Dartford Rail Travellers’ Association, and the Southeastern Railway Action Group

What’s wrong?

A lot.

As could be seen from my rant on Twitter a few nights ago about Southeastern’s Public Affairs Manager.

And I think that rant is justified.

And I’ll do my best to justify it in this post.

Thinking about it over the last few days, the thing that is wrong is that the culture of ‘somebody elses fault’ seems to pervading all corners of Southeastern.

In the past, the twitter team have put the blame on Network Rail for problems, whilst forgetting that we have our contract with Southeastern. This is something that went on for ages before many of us (including me) called them out on it.

And more recently the National Rail Enquiries debacle (where I was told to delete my alerts since they won’t work) has shown the lack of care from Southeastern to provide decent communication

From their ‘Customer and Stakeholder Engagement’ doc:

Engagement doc - customer service

The customer experience is getting worse: by outsourcing the important pieces of customer communication the quality has deteriorated throughout 2015

Where do I start?

I considered writing about all the fob-offs, and... [more]

Southeastern Apprenticeships

28 Aug 2015

The UK Apprentice scheme

It’s good.

It gets young people training in a field that they want to work in. Or at least some money and experience to get that start in life.

It also allows an employer, who may not have much money available, the chance to give back to their community by taking on a young adult and train them up in their trade. Think the local baker, engineer, tradesman etc.

And that’s why the Government sets the Apprentice minimum wage at £2.73 for the first 12 months. This rises to £3.30 in October 2015

Southeastern apprenticeships

Back in May this year, when looking around the jobs at Southeastern (I wasn’t looking to work there! just interested to see what they pay, and I regularly look at how others do job sites) I noticed they had Customer Service Apprenticeships. An excellent way to get into the railway industry!

Then I noticed something that got me angry.

They were being paid £3 an hour

£3

An hour

Yes this is a rather generous 27p above minimum wage

Is this fair?

It’s not. Working on the frontline at Southeastern is a tough job. Yes, in general they run 90% of their trains on time. However during that 10% disruption, there are angry customers. Customers that have connections to make. Customers that have jobs to get to. Customers that have families to get to. Customers that have appointments to keep.

So Southeastern get to increase the number of... [more]

Southeastern Apprenticeships

28 Aug 2015

The UK Apprentice scheme

It’s good.

It gets young people training in a field that they want to work in. Or at least some money and experience to get that start in life.

It also allows an employer, who may not have much money available, the chance to give back to their community by taking on a young adult and train them up in their trade. Think the local baker, engineer, tradesman etc.

And that’s why the Government sets the Apprentice minimum wage at £2.73 for the first 12 months. This rises to £3.30 in October 2015

Southeastern apprenticeships

Back in May this year, when looking around the jobs at Southeastern (I wasn’t looking to work there! just interested to see what they pay, and I regularly look at how others do job sites) I noticed they had Customer Service Apprenticeships. An excellent way to get into the railway industry!

Then I noticed something that got me angry.

They were being paid £3 an hour

£3

An hour

Yes this is a rather generous 27p above minimum wage

Is this fair?

It’s not. Working on the frontline at Southeastern is a tough job. Yes, in general they run 90% of their trains on time. However during that 10% disruption, there are angry customers. Customers that have connections to make. Customers that have jobs to get to. Customers that have families to get to. Customers that have appointments to keep.

So Southeastern get to increase the number of... [more]

National Rail Ads

11 Aug 2015

When websites go wrong, and National Rail do nothing:

Monday 10th August

I noticed that I was being forwarded to random ad sites when looking for how my train was progressing using National Rail’s live departure boards (LDB) on mobile.

As I do, I reported this to National Rail via twitter:

Twitter exchange #1

When I had the laptop to hand I then packet captured what was happening on the National Rail LDB site and found a bunch of redirects that could end up somewhere like this, rather than me finding out where my train was:

National Rail ad #1

I reported this to National Rail. They passed it onto their help desk.

Tuesday 11th August

In the morning, the same thing happened again.

My advice to turn the ad provider off and show localised ads (e.g. the Bank Holiday works on the railway network) had fallen on deaf ears. I guess they wanted me to be ‘super rich’ so I’ll get off the railway and stop complaining.

I passed on a few more ideas, which duly went to their help desk

In the evening…

It happened again - earlier in the day they requested I cleared my cache (lol) so I did…but then it turned out with no cookies, the probability of having an ad that took... [more]

The Year So Far ...

26 Feb 2015

2015 so far…

I haven’t had time to blog here much, though those who follow me on twitter or via the rail group for dartford would know I’ve been up to lots of stuff.

A fair few of you will be here as a result of leaflets dropping through your door - or if you happen to not be local to me, then it’s here, properly formatted for the web.

What have I been up to? Read on…

Trains

#Potential Photosensitive Epilepsy problem…

This has taken up a lot of the start of this year. After being away for most of December for travelling (this time not just for work, but my first proper holiday of 2014!) I noticed the on-board passenger displays on the train were flickering at a rate that made me feel nauseous and give me a slight headache.

After contacting the British Epilepsy Association on twitter, it turned out that this could potentially affect those who have Photosensitive Epilepsy. Obviously a major concern, and something I’m aware of through my day job.

This led to some urgent emails being sent round and a quick fix in place by Southeastern that evening, after nearly a week of fobbing off that they were looking into it. Despite claims that work was being done through that week, I’m not so sure, since their tune changed after I raised it directly to the MD.

#Still happening…

However for the weeks following,... [more]

Hi

25 Jan 2015

End of 2014…

…was pretty crazy, 2 Tokyo trips for work in the space of 3 weeks, then a well-deserved break in the US and Hawaii Islands for Christmas. Something I had planned for the last 5 years. It was pretty fantastic (says me, understated as always), and I’ll share a few thoughts on that with photos at some point this year when I have time.

I also formed the Dartford Rail Travellers Association with Mike Pellatt, a local who is as disgruntled with the current Southeastern service as I am.

And some other local things that I’ve been involved with during a lot of 2014.

Anyway…we all deserve a break and some time to relax, don’t we? I had mine, so…time to crack on with 2015

Hi, I’m Phil, …

…(blahblahblah standard work stuff - not really one for the blog)

…I’m philmonkey on Twitter, and monkeyphil in most other places

…I’m the co-founder of the Dartford Rail Travellers Association (DRTA), and I’ve got some stuff to say about Southeastern trains

…I’m the Treasurer for the local Dartford Labour Party

…I’m the prospective candidate with Dartford Labour for Newtown in the Dartford local elections on May 7th

The last 3 of which I could only really say in the past few months - the last, that I said for the first time this weekend.

Welcome 2015

It’s going to be a busy year. I’m finally getting to take the moans and gripes I had in 2014... [more]

Dartcharge

25 Jan 2015

Freeflow

Yes.

At last.

Freeflow is in place.

We did, however, as a consequence of the change, lose the running of the local Dartford Crossing scheme from the offices in Dartford, to a contracted company in Leeds.

We lost lots of jobs in Dartford - from those who handled the administration here in Dartford, and those that took your money as you crossed the Thames.

But, hey, that’s progress? Right?

It’s something that has been done, we can’t change it - it’s a shame that no provision was made to help keep it local, and keep those that have worked hard on the crossings stay in their jobs.

But…that’s water under the bridge (£2.50 to you, sir)

Renewal time

As previously blogged, I was on holiday for the last part of 2014. I knew my local residents scheme account ended sometime in December, but that’s OK. I wasn’t planning to use the crossing immediately after coming back.

Imagine the joy I had when I received the mail from Dart Charge telling me to renew online:

DartCharge renewal

But with the lack of documents I was unable to renew it online, so far away from home.

That’s ok, I’ll deal with it when I got home, cos, it should be a simple job shouldn’t it? A new online service, all modern, run under the gov.uk umbrella.

WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

Everything.

My renewal experience

Great. I’m back. It’s cold. I have 3 suitcases full of... [more]

Full Southeastern Performance Targets

19 Nov 2014

Southeastern PPM

I haven’t got time to write a full analysis of this as planned, so here’s the PPM targets for Southeastern’s new franchise, as well as exportable CSV.

Targets, as with the Dartford lines, are below previous performance…feel free to distribute this data as you see fit!

Past 6 months:

Past 6 months

Next 6 months:

Next 6 months

And in perspective, the same 6 months last year:

2013 performance

CSV data for past 6 months and next 6 months can be downloaded

References

Claire Perry’s claim of ‘tough’ targets for Southeastern.

New franchise document

Original franchise document expected a 93.4% PPM over the 12 months to the end of March 2014

My thoughts

See this post

Dartford Rail Travellers Association

As a result of discussions, DRTA has been set up with Mike Pellatt - details of this are here


Dartford Rail Travellers Association

16 Nov 2014

Welcome to: Dartford Rail Travellers Association (DRTA)

I’ve been engaging in conversation with David Statham and his team at Southeastern since meeting him on the BBC Radio Kent show that I joined in October, and one question I wanted to put to him on air was if he’d entertain the possibility of coming to speak to Dartford commuters.

This question came up in a recent exchange whilst talking about the PPM figures, and there was a suggestion that if there was a Dartford commuter group, then that’s when Southeastern would typically join.

So…I decided it’s time for us to have a group, in a similar vein to the Sevenoaks Rail Travellers Association, who do a great job communicating news important to that area and calling Southeastern to account.

Not just me…

I didn’t want the group to be just me running it. It didn’t feel right to have sole control over a group that I hope would be an important place for commuters, plus I couldn’t do this alone, with the elections coming up in under 6 months!

I sent a message to Mike Pellatt, who is as vocal as me on Twitter about the shortcomings of Southeastern - it turns out he already registered a domain for such a group and he was interested in forming a group.

So the next day, after a couple of beers, DRTA was born

What the group is for

A voice for Dartford commuters. That’s all of us in the... [more]

Southeastern Performance Targets

11 Nov 2014

Thank you Southeastern

Looking back at my last post about this, I’d like to set one thing straight:

  • The response from Southeastern MD, David Statham, about this when I tackled him on what was actually published, was clear, and transparent. They made a mistake, and they corrected it in the published version. Instead of posting up targets it was past data.

I guess they could have handled this better by making a note on the brochure to explain this, rather than commuters seeing this as yet another smokescreen, or lie.

In David’s response, he also provided me with the actual PPM targets for the next 6 months, by line of route.

Data. Transparent. Honest. This is all I (and a lot of other commuters) have been trying to get in the past 2 months, and I got it! At last.

Should I just post it?

I thought about it, though other parts of the email made me realise there’s a chance that Southeastern and David would like to continue to engage in conversation with me, so, I held off until I had time to respond and ask if it was ok.

Nearly a week after receiving the data, I got round to asking that question, and the next day was given the OK.

So…here we go!

Dartford and overall PPM

I wanted to get this data out asap, so I’ll just focus on Dartford, since these are the routes I travel on daily.

Suffice to... [more]

When Transparency Is Another Smokescreen

28 Oct 2014

Before

David: This week we’ll publish our customer magazine, with performance targets, and actual performance by line of route, so much more granular information as opposed to a target for Southeastern overall.”

He meant this:

se_before

After

Today Mike Pellatt (@mpellatt) tweeted me to say it hard turned into this:

se_after

It seems the ‘targets’ that were published were merely ‘past performance’ with the wrong column headers. The variance in numbers may be rounding errors/corrections that happened since the original table was put together.

So, not really transparent?

No, of course not, did we expect any different from the new franchise?

What do we know now then?

The new Southeastern MD had said that performance targets will be published. They were, but now they aren’t. In fact, they were never performance targets. They just posted up how badly they were already performing

The new Southeastern MD had on many occasions during the hour session on BBC Radio Kent that they will be transparent. They haven’t. They’ve replaced the previous table without any word of apology.

What do we know about new performance targets?

Nothing.

Same as we knew before.

Southeastern haven’t been open about their new performance targets.

They haven’t published them.

We’re as in the dark as before - the Department for Transport, and Southeastern, working together to ensure that us,... [more]

More Made Up Stats From Southeastern

28 Oct 2014

I’ll be quick

This will be one of my shorter blog posts on Southeastern, I’ve just about had enough of the lies that they put out in the interests of being transparent, and have sat on this one for a few days

So…here goes

Sent to Southeastern, 30th September 2014

Hi,

Re previous correspondence reference: 337563 / 836957

With resepect, your Passenger Charter does state I can ask for this information.

If you scroll to the section after ‘Answering your enquiries’ it states the following:

“Keeping you updated on our customer service performance

In addition to the four-weekly updates on train service performance we’ll keep you informed of other aspects of our service from time to time, including:

queuing times at ticket offices;

our response times to the letters and web email forms you write;

our performance in answering your telephone calls to our enquiry service;

and feedback from the latest National Passenger Survey.

If you do not have access to the Internet at home, you may be able to use facilities at your local public library, or you can request the information by contacting our Customer Services.”

Hence my request to Customer Services for this information - more specifically the second point in that list

Or are you saying that your Passenger Charter contains yet another failed promise to your customers? As with previous correspondence, please explicitly state in the body of your response if you do not wish me to share your reply on my blog.

... [more]

Lighting The Path To East Dartford

25 Oct 2014

Background

Whilst one solitary light may not seem that important, this light, in the car park for Wickes in East Dartford (off Overy Street) is a very important light.

This is the light that lights the way from Dartford Station, down the wooden bridge, and into East Dartford - whether you’re going to Temple Hill or Newtown. This is an important light for those of us who live there.

The bridge does need some work doing on it to keep the surface even, though lighting does help out there, as our senses can bring uneven surfaces and how we walk together, for the majority - of course those who are less well sighted may have issues.

Having the lower part of the bridge with no lighting has caused issues late at night. The Wickes car park is a large area, no direct, bright, lighting makes it an easy place for those who want to lay prey to potential victims passing through.

Back in August 2013 I fell at the lower part of the bridge, whilst I put that blame entirely on myself, I was hurrying to get home before an impending storm hit. I can’t recall if the light was on or not, though this is a simple example of the problems that, if there was no lighting, someone could find themselves in trouble. Gladly the only problem I had from this was a permanent facial scar.

That light

As early as December 2013, I asked questions about... [more]

Speaking Up For Dartford Commuters

15 Oct 2014

Train day - BBC Radio Kent

I took part in the BBC Radio Kent programme partly to be able to talk to their MD about issues that have plagued the service for ages, but mainly to speak up for Dartford commuters. For too long our MP has let them get away with giving passengers a raw deal and not really put much pressure on them to improve. And his Government handed the keys back to Southeastern for an extra 4 more years last month.

Whilst raising the issue of wifi first during a parliamentary session benefits a few, and more recently praising the renewed franchise for bringing Oyster to only one of the 7 stations in the Dartford Borough, Dartford MP Gareth Johnson has been ineffectual in talking about, let alone making any visible effort to get this improved for commuters from Dartford.

In February 2014 he brought up the issue of punctuality, rather weakly I may add with no prior research on how PPM is calculated (took me a minute to find, read, and understand this as research on for my session with the new Southeastern MD). If he was so concerned about PPM figures for those of us in Dartford then why have the PPM requirements that his Government set, for the lines from and through Dartford stations, been reduced on this franchise from the previous network average. How is this standing up for the Dartford commuters? It isn’t.

In 2010/11 census, it showed that 38%... [more]

An Hour With The Southeastern Managing Director

15 Oct 2014

The Questions (Part 3 of 3)

This is the second post from our hour with David Statham talking about Southeastern. This is the middle slot (we were broken up by two news/weather/travel bulletins).

For the first part click here, or second part

The rest of this post will have summaries of the questions and answers from the panel, and a bit of commentary from me (quotes used for what was actually said, you can, of course, refer to the audio link!)

I already prepared the Thank Yous at the bottom of this post, so they’ll stay for all parts of this blog.

Of course, you can listen to the whole hour again on via Soundcloud, if you can’t wait for me to type the rest up!

David and Julia Me asking a question

# Intro

Julia: John, a Medway Commuter, you were challenging David on the question of signal failures, what’s your question?

# Signal failures

John: There seems to be phenomenal signal failures from Medway into London, probably every week. When we get these failures - why do we have to pay, as commuters, to jump on the High Speed train (HS1). I was at Victoria a few weeks ago, on a Friday evening at 7.15pm, the system failed at Victoria. I asked one of the managers if we can use St Pancras, he said we’d have to pay (approx £3.80),... [more]

An Hour With The Southeastern Managing Director

14 Oct 2014

The Questions (Part 2 of 3)

This is the second post from our hour with David Statham talking about Southeastern. This is the middle slot (we were broken up by two news/weather/travel bulletins).

For the first part click here

The rest of this post will have summaries of the questions and answers from the panel, and a bit of commentary from me (quotes used for what was actually said, you can, of course, refer to the audio link!)

I already prepared the Thank Yous at the bottom of this post, so they’ll stay for all parts of this blog.

Of course, you can listen to the whole hour again on via Soundcloud, if you can’t wait for me to type the rest up!

David and Julia Me asking a question

# Intro

Julia: Lilian Greenwood (Shadow Rail Minister) commented earlier that it was a ‘disgrace’ when talking about the extension of the franchise - you got this extension not because you were brilliant, but because it was easier. Have you earnt this extension?

David: The government had a lot of options, the fact we have this is a degree of faith from the Department of Transport in our ability to manage the really difficult works at London Bridge, and a recognition there are things we need to do to improve the railway in the next 3.5 years

# PPM

Julia: What are your... [more]

An Hour With The Southeastern Managing Director

13 Oct 2014

Welcome to Charing Cross

Indeed. I arrived just before 8. The train should’ve got in at 0752, but was late…but that’s expected. Signal problems up the line, and the ‘Fresh Start’ living up to the expectations of more delays.

I had to meet the BBC team at 0830 so got myself a bite to eat, carried on listening to the BBC Radio Kent stream - some great interviews and journalism covering all angles. I was looking forward to it already, if a little bit tired from the early start.

I turned up at the new Waiting Room at Charing Cross, and met @peter_mount who I’ve spoken to for ages on twitter, mainly about trains, and finally got to meet. A bit of small talk about what wanted to cover…and then…

9am - live on air

The news happens, and weather, and obviously travel. There’s always travel problems.

Before we went to air, the production team asked us for one main area we’d like to cover. I picked delays. I figured someone else would get asked a question first. But..no…I got to go first.

Eek.

I had around 2000 words prepared on my iPad of areas I wanted to cover and research, and even pre-canned questions. In the end, I picked bits from a few questions, compounded them together, and fired out my first question…

If you’d like to listen to the whole thing again (I had to, to write this, so you... [more]

A Fresh Start For Southeastern

12 Oct 2014

My Freedom of Information response

I didn’t want to blog my FOI response, I’ve already blogged my thoughts on the response to Sam Crawford’s FOI response. I wanted to wait until my hour with David Statham, Southeastern’s new MD live on BBC Radio Kent on Monday 13th October to get more details, or the response to my feedback on the FOI.

However, in putting together some extra research for tomorrow’s session I took the time to read the extra attachment to my FOI request. I didn’t have time last week when it came in, and reading it in detail, it shows something rather interesting.

More seats?

Let’s see what was said by the Government back on September 11th

Franchise announcement: more than 95,000 extra seats across the network, including 1,000 extra seats on Southeastern’s high speed services every day

And this wonderful infographic, that has so many bright colours and a few images, but says so little: DfT Infographic on the Directly Awarded Southeastern Franchise

What does this mean?

Well, I’ll tell you. This is the only part of my FOI request that wasn’t held back for reasons that don’t make sense.

Here is what the FOI yielded:

## Southeastern Seats Provision at end of December 2014

... [more]

The Great Train Silence

06 Oct 2014

Freedom From Information

Today has been an interesting day, first this article in the Independent featuring the shadow Transport Secretary, Mary Creagh, pointing out that we won’t be able to raise FOI requests to Network Rail until around the time of the General Election. This in itself seems to be an abuse of public information, and as Mary rightly points out, it makes it difficult to call out this Government on their efforts with the national train service until after the election.

And on the train home, a fellow Twitter follower sent me a link to his FOI response for the Southeastern franchise.

As I’ve written on Twitter, I have a similar FOI request pending with the Department for Transport, though on reading the response to Sam Crawford’s request I very much doubt that my FOI request will be any more forthcoming. Which is a shame.

Communication

One of the points in, the now silent (on the subject of the franchise), Claire Perry’s letter talks about how staff will be provided with tablets for ‘up-to-the-minute advice to passengers’. The response from the DfT to Sam’s FOI request clearly shows they have no desire to provide any advice or information to passengers.

There is no point denying the request, and witholding the information because it is due for future publication (in the middle of November 2014).

The new franchise starts on October 12th, so for a month, as per usual, Southeastern passengers will be in the dark... [more]

Ten

04 Oct 2014

It started in the pub

…which is where most crazy ideas start. Isn’t it?

And that’s where the adventure of a lifetime started for me. A typical evening in the pub, cos that’s what we did most nights after work back then - we were young after all!

A few of my friends had already run previous Nike 10K events, but this evening, October 4th 2004, Metro published their first night time edition - with a wraparound sponsored by Nike. To advertise their first Nocturnal 10K, through the streets of South London.

This got us talking about possibly entering it…several beers later, we all agreed that we’ll enter that evening.

The next day

Yawn. That’s what I usually do at the start of each day.

And my mail…the mail that said that the other three that agreed to enter Nike 10K had entered.

I hadn’t. Maybe it was a bad dream. No, no it wasn’t. Everyone entered. Well, it’d be wrong of me not to wouldn’t it?

I bit the bullet. I entered the Nike 10K Nocturnal run.

What was I thinking?!

I hadn’t run since being at school over a decade ago, if you don’t count the bits where I ran for a bus, or a train, or from boulders rolling down the street (in hindsight, after watching various films, I believe the way to avoid such boulders is to step out of the way)

A couple of weeks passed

It’s ok, isn’t it? Running, it’s... [more]

Southeastern Heating An Empty Response

29 Sep 2014

28 days later…

…give or take a few days, Southeastern replied to my questions about heating

Sadly, it seems their comprehension of my email went out of the window and they decided to answer what they chose to. Badly.

I guess I’ll have to answer the questions again, it’s only fair, since we all deserve an explanation

Southeastern’s response

Dear Mr Rogers

Thank you for your recent webform on 20 August.

I’d like to start by stating carriage heating levels are thermostatically controlled and regularly monitored.

Some carriage settings were adjusted upwards slightly, following passenger feedback in winter 2012-13.

As I’m sure you’ll understand, all warm air systems require air to be heated to higher than the ambient temperature, just as a domestic radiator would be hotter than ambient.

I’d like to thank you for taking the time to make us aware of your comments and assure you that we’ll continue to monitor and adjust carriage settings as necessary.

Yours sincerely

[Redacted]

Customer Relations Officer

Southeastern

Erm…what?

So let’s look at what I originally asked them in my original message

HSE recommednations quoted were out-dated

Fine, they didn’t need to answer that, this was merely an observation * *Average London temperatures in July/August are from 13C to 23C (within the 13C-30C they claim was acceptable)

Fine, another statement that they didn’t have to acknolwedge

On... [more]

Southeastern Meet The Manager

18 Sep 2014

New Direct Award

This was announced on 11th September by the Government

Despite many requests from myself and other users of Twitter, neither the MP in charge, or representatives of Southeastern were able to answer questions on the new performance targets.

I have a Freedom Of Information request in place which should respond in the next 3 weeks, but took the opportunity to quiz the managers today at the Meet the Manager session in Charing Cross station

Southeastern’s revised ‘tough performance targets’

I got lucky. The manager I encountered was Rene Tym - Network Rail’s South East Route Performance Manager. I didn’t realise who I was talking to until the question came out:

“What are the new tough performance measures for the Directly Awarded Franchise?”

What followed was particularly interesting:

“As group performance manager, I should know what they are…we’re aiming for over 90% of those trains [to arrive within 5 mins]”

After confirming it was 90% across the whole network, I asked if this included HS1 since that was an easier line to perform on.

“There are more challenging targets, and we’re aiming for over 94% on HS1”

What does this mean?

Well, if the Network Rail rep got it right, the ‘tough performance targets’ are weaker than what is already in place.

And you’d expect Network Rail to know a target, since they have to work with Southeastern to meet them.

The current targets are linked here

Since the year ending March 2009... [more]

Southeastern Trains Heating My Response

20 Aug 2014

Still hot

For the last two days I’ve been on trains with heating on at 0740 in the morning. Granted, it has got cooler outside, but nowhere near needing heating on the train for those appropriately dressed for outside temperatures.

I also got myself a point and click thermometer to measure temperatures, to verify temperatures in the carriage, as well as the temperature coming from the heaters.

I’ll keep this short, and post what I wrote to Southeastern tonight.

When they respond, I’ll update this further

For reference, the initial response, with my commentary is here

My response to Southeastern

Hi,

Following up on your response dated 7th August (Ref: 809273), I would like to make the following points:

With this in mind, as well as your environmental commitments (<a... [more]

Heating On Southeastern Trains

17 Aug 2014

It’s getting hot in here

UPDATE: I responded to Southeastern - click here to see what I wrote!

Over the last 3 months, Southeastern travellers have taken to Twitter to complain about the heating on Southeastern trains.

Common replies from Southeastern have been

  • That they will talk to their fleet crews about this to fix the train
  • The driver has no control over heating on the train

The first response shows that their twitter account clearly believes that have maintenance problems.

The second, as discovered one morning on a Class 376 train is that the driver is able to turn off heating to a carriage, since he delayed our train leaving by 5 minutes to turn it off.

It’s not just me feeling the heat

For those of you interested in crowdsourcing on Twitter, I’d like to point out www.commutelondon.com (twitter: @commuteldn). They crowdsource tweets for all the train companies leaving from London, and I regularly look at the state of the #southeastern nation for an idea of delays etc.

On many times I’ve seen ‘heating’ mentioned in the top 5, usually at the top.

I asked Commute London if they were able to provide stats for the last few weeks about heating complaints for Southeastern on twitter, and they provided me the following statement:

“Over the past six weeks, South Eastern commuters Tweeted complaints about heating/air con during the rush hour periods on average 25 times a day”

That’s a lot... [more]

Amazon.com The Worlds Worst Customer Service

12 Aug 2014

If you shop on Amazon.co.uk and use the Collect+ service, due to a known problem on Amazon’s side there’s a chance your package won’t have your name on.

I told them, they endlessly put the blame on me, or someone else, just not themselves.

Read on for the summary, and transcript of our contact.

Why I’ll no longer use Amazon - short version

This, and the other linked posts, will add up to quite a lot to read through, so for those that don’t want to look at all the supporting evidence, I’ll summarise it below. Hopefully you’ll read further.

A few weeks ago I placed 3 orders with Amazon UK - 2 orders were packaged together, the other (ordered a few days after) sent separately. All were sent to me using the Collect+ service (which I must add is a great service, when it works).

I went to the store on Friday to collect my two packages - though it turned out one package had my name on, the other didn’t. I use the store often, so, together, we figured the mislabelled package was mine. Great.

Being a longstanding Amazon customer, I notified them that they may have a fault, since, you should let companies know when they make a mistake, shouldn’t you?

This exchange is covered here: the first exchange on live chat with Amazon Customer Services and email feedback from Amazon

Given the lack of any sort of apology or attempt to make good... [more]

Newtown Recycling

06 Aug 2014

Quick commentary on today…

I wanted to write this on Twitter, in fact I started writing it on twitter, then realised that one of the reasons I set up this site is to be able to be able to say things that are over 140 characters.

Today around lunchtime I saw on Twitter that Recycling, again, hadn’t been collected in Newtown (mainly Fulwich Road) again. I didn’t get a good chance to check for the recycling truck or the state of bins on my walk to work this morning - due to the rain we had, plus rushing to get to the station.

Today it turns out Great Queen Street, Little Queen Street, and Fulwich Road had the Recycling collection missed, whilst, as usual, the non-recyclable refuse got collected. Also, via twitter, it turns out that the Recycling truck had to back out of a street since it couldn’t get down the street.

At around 1pm I mailed Dartford Borough Council to ask if they were are of the lack of collection on the three streets above, though an hour later I heard that another attempt was made to collect Recycling, which this time was successful.

Whether it was today’s mail, or my previous efforts to get the Council to find a solution, I’m glad that we got the collection that we’ve paid for.

Any future issues?

Well, I hope there won’t be.

If you do find there’s a recycling/bottle/non-recyclable refuse collection missed, then please feel free to... [more]

Amazon Response

01 Aug 2014

Amazon responded tonight

For reference, see my earlier blog post about Amazon Customer Services

I’ll post the relevant bits…a GBP10 “goodwill gesture” is, quite frankly, an insult for the accusations and time I’ve spent on this issue this evening

Amazon - the ball is in your court, please feel free to contact me again.

Amazon response (extract)

After reviewing our previous correspondence with you, please accept my apologies for any misunderstanding caused.

This situation was the result of a technical error, and I’m sorry for any inconvenience caused.

As we understand the system should have recorded the details correctly(like Recipient Name) before passing on the same to carrier for delivery of a package.This is the first complaint we have received so far with regard to Collect Plus package deliveries with the missing information.

I would surely check with the Internal team to see how this situation could have happened and really thank you for bringing this to our attention.

I understand the inconvenience this situation has caused and on this occasion, I would like to give you a GBP 10.00 promotional gift certificate as a goodwill gesture, for use towards your next Amazon.co.uk order.


Amazon Customer Services

01 Aug 2014

Welcome to my evening

I had a long week (which felt even longer after being slightly jet-lagged after a week in Tokyo the previous week), so I took the afternoon off! A quick trip to the shops to stock up, and to drop by my local shop to pick up my Collect+ parcels.

I was hoping for a relaxed evening playing The Last Of Us: Remastered on PS4 (I didn’t get time on PS3) - I did, for 30 minutes, until I got an email from Amazon about the issue I had picking up one of my Collect+ parcels.

Amazon sent me an email response - documented here!

What happened?

Here’s the two packages - some bits redacted (whilst my coding skills are good, my Photoshop editing at short notice is a bit rubbish), but you get the idea!

Amazon parcels

The rest of this entry will have the email exchange that lead to the live transcript that I have posted here. I haven’t redacted the name of the Amazon rep so maybe Amazon can identify this and get back to me with a better resolution.

As with all my posts that contain responses from Customer Service agents, if Amazon would like me to redact anything, then please let me know and this will be done as soon as is humanly possible.

I’ll let the transcript and emails speak for themselves…

Whilst formatting the transcript I note the Amazon rep said that orders aren’t... [more]

Tech And The Lower Thames Crossing

26 Jul 2014

Background

We all know that a new crossing over the Thames is needed, if not now, then by the time it is planned and constructed.

There’s ongoing arguments and discussions about when and where this should be built, with our Dartford MP Gareth Johnson wanting to wait until the barrier-free Dart Charge systems goes into place to see if this makes a difference. Of course it will, vehicles won’t have to stop at the barrier any more. Although there would be the same amount of traffic flowing through the M25.

There’s loads of theories and empirical evidence that will help model the outcome of the Dart Charge implementation - this is a good starting point on Queueing theory . So the “wait and see” response from our MP seems like he’s just playing for time.

Are we missing some important data?

I don’t know if this has been done yet, and if so, please add a comment to show the results of the data…

Automatic Number Plate Recognition will be in use for Dart Charge. This will show the vehicles approaching from both the South and the North.

Why not put in ANPR at strategic points further up the M25; east along the A13, the M2 and M20; and south on the M25.

This can help model where vehicles that use the crossing come from and go to, and provide more information about traffic flows across the river, and which of the crossing options (if any!) are... [more]

Inaction In Newtown

10 Jul 2014

Sorry

I feel bad for the residents of Fulwich Road, and can only apologise for my last post suggesting that improvements will be made.

I guess this feels like being promised a most awesome train set for Christmas, and not even getting a lump of coal. In fact, I still don’t get any kind of decent train set daily, but that’s another story…

Anyway, the post was written in good faith following conversations with Dartford Borough Council about the ongoing problem with collecting our recycling.

Nodding, but doing nothing

I’m quite outraged that we keep going through this cycle of lack of recycling collection with no end in sight.

And more outraged, that our Labour Councillor for Newtown was silently dropped off our email exchanges, by a DBC representative, part way through our discussions. Luckily, Google Mail remembers all.

Anyhow, it’s getting late, I’ve had a long day…so, I’ll leave you with the email I sent to DBC and various Councillors, of course, adding back Cllr Dave Baker, for you to read

Dear someone who hopefully cares…

To: Recycling Advisor at DBC (address and name redacted!) cc: Tony Martin, Andy Lloyd, Avtar Sandhu, Michael Street, David Baker

Hi all,

(adding back Cllr Baker who appears to have been dropped off the To list during this conversation…)

Well, again, we’ve had issues on Fulwich Road today.

Recycling hasn’t been collected from the junction of St Albans Road down towards Overy Street.

... [more]

Bus Cavalcade Part 3

29 Jun 2014

DSC09466.jpg

Bus Cavalcade - The Year Of The Bus

On Sunday 22nd June 2014, Regent Street had one of its many Sunday road closures - to allow shoppers to have a traffic free day, whilst also providing some sort of entertainment and interesting events.

For this Sunday, apart from 48 buses (and some supporting vehicles), Regent Street was traffic free! Despite having to get a bus replacement service to Slade Green as some work was being done on Dartford Station (they tore down the old temporary station), I went into London.

Here’s the final set of photos that I took - from buses 36 to 48.

And, of course, click for buses 1 to 20 or buses 21 to 35

Remember - Dartford Bus station is having an open day on Sunday 7th September, I’ll hopefully see some of you there!

DSC09421.jpg

I’ve taken the descriptions of each bus from the TfL leaflet that was handed out at the event - which gives you some background into what the bus is, and a little bit of history.

I’ve put the odd comment in amongst all the photos too…

Bus 36 - Ensignbus DM2646

DSC09732.jpg DSC09728.jpg

In service... [more]

Bus Cavalcade Part 2

28 Jun 2014

DSC09466.jpg

Bus Cavalcade - The Year Of The Bus

On Sunday 22nd June 2014, Regent Street had one of its many Sunday road closures - to allow shoppers to have a traffic free day, whilst also providing some sort of entertainment and interesting events.

For this Sunday, apart from 48 buses (and some supporting vehicles), Regent Street was traffic free! Despite having to get a bus replacement service to Slade Green as some work was being done on Dartford Station (they tore down the old temporary station), I went into London.

Here’s the second set of photos that I took - from buses 21 to 35.

And of course click for buses 1 to 20 or buses 36 to 48

I’ll post the rest in the coming week - so check back for more!

Remember - Dartford Bus station is having an open day on Sunday 7th September, I’ll hopefully see some of you there!

DSC09421.jpg

I’ve taken the descriptions of each bus from the TfL leaflet that was handed out at the event - which gives you some background into what the bus is, and a little bit of history.

I’ve put the odd comment in amongst all the photos too…

Bus 21 - Leyland RTW-type (RTW467)

DSC09610.jpg... [more]

Bus Cavalcade Part 1

28 Jun 2014

DSC09466.jpg

Bus Cavalcade - The Year Of The Bus

On Sunday 22nd June 2014, Regent Street had one of its many Sunday road closures - to allow shoppers to have a traffic free day, whilst also providing some sort of entertainment and interesting events.

For this Sunday, apart from 48 buses (and some supporting vehicles), Regent Street was traffic free! Despite having to get a bus replacement service to Slade Green as some work was being done on Dartford Station (they tore down the old temporary station), I went into London.

Here’s the first set of photos that I took - from buses 1 to 20.

Part 2 is now here: buses 21 to 35

With the final set here: buses 36 to 48

I’ll post the rest in the coming week - so check back for more!

Remember - Dartford Bus station is having an open day on Sunday 7th September, I’ll hopefully see some of you there!

DSC09421.jpg

I’ve taken the descriptions of each bus from the TfL leaflet that was handed out at the event - which gives you some background into what the bus is, and a little bit of history.

I’ve put the odd comment in amongst all the photos too…

Bus 1 - Horse bus

<img src="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3839/14469059256_bda396c324.jpg" width="426"... [more]

The Great Southeastern Communication Problem

26 Jun 2014

Punctuality - 16th June 2014

I was quite angered at the service on the Southeastern service from Charing Cross, timetabled to depart at 1801.

I boarded train several minutes before 1801, and sat there, for a while, until 1805 before the train departed.

The news from Southeastern, via email said this:

“The 18:01 will be delayed after leaving by about 12 minutes due to a delay on a previous journey.”

If the delay was from a previous journey, then how did it appear at Charing Cross way before it’s timetabled departure?

Another delayed journey

So we eventually left at 1805, crawled down the tracks, for some reason or another, then got to Dartford. Late, which is a typical expectation for commuters in the Dartford area that alight at Dartford.

Though, on arriving at Dartford, on one of the major commuter services home from Charing Cross, the announcer said that the train will now call at no stops, until it got to Gillingham.

Which is great, for those at Stone Crossing, Greenhithe, Swanscombe, Northfleet…the list goes on. As well as being already delayed, they will now have to wait at Dartford for the next service that wants to call at those stations to arrive.

Hey Southeastern, what’s your thoughts?

Quite frustrated at this - these commuters have worked a long, most likely, hard day and just want to get home to their families/pets/hobbies/EastEnders, I contacted Southeastern. First via twitter, but, as we all know, that is... [more]

The London Bicycle Tour Company

12 Jun 2014

Cycling

I don’t cycle.

I can’t ride a bike.

It’s a choice of not doing it as a child, and also apathy.

However I respect cyclists, they can do something I can’t, they get good exercise from riding bikes, and they have to put up with motorists that don’t give them enough space on the roads (for the record: I always give enough space when passing, it’s only fair)

Today in Soho

I was heading home, via Chinatown for a little fridge stock up after having to chuck out most of the stuff in there earlier in the month.

Walking through the disassembling Berwick Street Market I saw around 20+ bicyclists going down the street lead by a guy in a Hi-Vis jacked with ‘londonbicycle.com’ on.

I thought this was some sort of London cycling tutor group - which, well, is great to get people confidently cycling in our capital city.

They mounted the pavement briefly on Berwick Street, though unavoidable since it seemed the market was late to disassemble.

I got to Walker’s Court which is a pedestrianised area, and found the bikes assembled on that pathway as they were lead through there onto Brewer Street.

Cyclists are not to ride on pedestrianised pathways. Simple.

I wanted to take photos, but my iPhone was embedded in my jeans pocket since I didn’t have a jacket - it was one of London’s rare warm days

Oh Hi again :(

I got to Gerrard Street, and saw the... [more]

Communication And Airports

09 Jun 2014

Yawn

Today I got up at 5.15am to get a morning flight to Stockholm. I hate Monday morning flights, I hate the M25 on a Monday morning, so I got up early enough, to arrive at the airport in good time and check-in.

However, for this trip, I elected for Norwegian Air, whilst a ‘budget’ airline, the size of the operation and also reviews seemed to not be so bad, plus over £100 cheaper than a BA flight. We also had a bunch of stuff to carry, so before checking in, had to shuffle around stuff in bags (hand luggage only, you see)

Oh, Hi Gatwick

Whilst my other two colleages had managed to check in, I went last, and also couldn’t figure the correct airline ticket code to put in (there’s two 6 letter codes on the receipt, and I’m used to things just appearing in the BA app). Anyhow, whilst I was putting in my details, I noticed other passengers around me were experiencing issues with their ticket details.

Hmm. Something must be broken I guess, computers and all that…I’ll go join the queue for Customer Services as advised.

At this point my two colleagues proceeded to the security part of the trip, which is always fun.

I queued, the queue was moving fast. This is good I thought, until murmurings went through the queue that we were being dispatched to another queue. In the distance I saw a slow moving queue.

This didn’t look good

... [more]

How To Annoy A Loyal Customer, By Tomtom

08 Jun 2014

My relationship with Tomtom

I’ve been a Tomtom customer for nearly a decade. In-car satnav was an amazing piece of technology back then, and way before the advent of proper smart phones (apart from the Ipaq but I wanted a solution loud enough for the car)

I’ve bought 3 Tomtom in-car devices over the years, and find the traffic/Live services useful when driving as it typically helps me avoid traffic, or at least gives me a chance to divert. And, of course, looking at a mobile phone whilst driving is definitely a no-on.

Tomtom speed camera app - free on iOS

I got this app a few months ago, and it allowed me to sign-in using my existing Tomtom login (the one I use on my in-car devices). I did read somewhere that this may cause problems, though figured Tomtom can’t be that stupid.

Anyway, I only got the app since it was free, and I like seeing new apps and applications of technology. Signing in with the same account seemed the natural thing to do

Hey Tomtom, can I update my in-car device?

No.

Obviously not.

No, just no. That account is now linked to a mobile app:

“There is a mobile app linked to this account

You can manage your TomTom app on your smartphone.”

All good and well, apart from I can’t sign in with that app any more on my smartphone, since it is linked with a standalone device.

That same standalone device... [more]

Dartford Station Works

05 Jun 2014

Station improvements

For well over a year Dartford commuters have endured the new station building works, and since the new station building was opened in late 2013 there have been ongoing works inside the station.

Whilst this is a great improvement to the commuting experience every morning, and also an improvement to our town, in recent times, the building workers have taken to working during the morning peak.

The station has one dual staircase to Platforms 1 and 2, and two single staircases to Platforms 3 and 4. The walkway to get to the platforms could comfortably hold four people side by side.

Morning works

When any part of the walkway or staircase is closed this causes congestion at the station. This makes people potentially miss their trains - I plan to arrive around a minute before the train arrives - I already get delayed regularly on my daily commute, so try and optimise my mornings.

Recently I’ve got close to missing my train due to a staircase being closed, or half the walkway closed - this has meant battling with people coming the other way to me (usually school children, so half term improved the situation somewhat). Note: I don’t have actual battles, that would just delay me more.

Informing Southeastern

I have, on numerous times, contact Southeastern via twitter for their feedback on this situation. The first few times they thanked me for my feedback and said it was passed on to the Dartford station... [more]

Fulwich Road Recycling

04 Jun 2014

Changes

Good news to the residents of Fulwich Road, Dartford, the Newtown ward, and Dartford as a whole.

I’d like to write my thoughts about this, however, I’m writing this whilst eating my lunch, so I’ll be succinct (for once).

Fulwich Road collections

This will now be the first point of collection on a Wednesday, between 0700 and 0730. On Recycling days, the Recycling truck will be first, followed by the refuse (green bin) truck sometime after. Otherwise the refuse truck will go first - I saw this happen for myself this morning on the way to work at 0710 this morning.

There are issues with car parking on pavements which limit the clearance on the lower end of Fulwich Road that may cause problems for the trucks to go down - the council are looking into this - however I’ve asked them to be more consultative with residents (since they are typically the ones parked there) rather than a heavy handed approach of ticketing through Civil Enforcement.

There is also consideration for parking restrictions on refuse collection days (this works well in the US for street cleaning, and could solve access for the Refuse/Recycling trucks on collection day)

Shrubbery issues at the bottom of Fulwich Road

As part of today’s investigations, the overgrowing shrubs at the bottom end of Fulwich Road were identified as also causing clearance issues.

DBC are contacting KCC to clear the shrubs. I also asked that the shrubs on the steps up... [more]

Thank You For Recycling

02 Jun 2014

It finally happened

Today on Fulwich Road, our recycling finally got collected. Only 4 days later than planned.

I mailed DBC (and our Councillors and various Cabinet members that wanted a cc too) about this on Friday, as previously blogged.

This morning the response from DBC was that the contractor has been asked to attempt recycling again.

Today was a rare moment for me - I was working from home - which means I don’t have to deal with the inevitable delays on Southeastern, and also get to start work once I’m out of bed (obviously after a freshen up, and coffee, cos…well that’s the way to start the day)

Also, interspersed with work, I decommissioned the old fridge freezer (I was at home waiting for delivery of a replacement) and had regular trips to the bin to dump out wasted food due to the failings of that device.

Too many parked cars, can’t turn

Oh really? On my periodic trips outside, I took a look down the road, it was clear enough to get a decent sized vehicle down the road, and, in fact, FD Transport a couple of doors down managed to get their removal trucks down quite easily, without driving slowly, as you would, if width was an issue.

With that in mind, I asked DBC to ask the Refuse Contractors to please try again - they did…just before 1500 that afternoon.

Of course, John Lewis had paved the way for them minutes before to... [more]

A Post About Rubbish

01 Jun 2014

#First

My first post, on my new site!

However, and I’m sorry for doing this, in order to get the chronology right for this post, I’ve made up a couple of blog posts detailing events that happened with previous failed rubbish collections.

I think it’ll read better, and make things easier to find in the future. I’ll try not to make a habit of re-inventing history from now on.

Anyway, the prerequisites for this post are:

What happened?

On the evening of Thursday 29th May (Recycling and Refuse collection day for Newtown, +1 day due to the Bank Holiday Monday)), I walked up Fulwich Rd on the way home and realised that recycling hadn’t been collected…again.

Whilst wanting to have my dinner (difficult with a faulty fridge/freezer, again, another post for that!) I reported this back to DBC, via the email chain that was already ongoing from the previous incidents.

In my email to DBC (and our local Newtown Councillors) I asked for an update to our previous exchange in March about their plans to ensure our rubbish was collected, and also what the plan was to address this ongoing problem in Newtown.

Friday 30th May

An email from the DBC Recycling Advisor acknowledging that our pick-up didn’t happen due to having a recycling truck off the road with mechanical problems, and that this would probably be addressed during... [more]

50 Percent Performance Rate

05 Mar 2014

Another missed collection. The weather wasn’t as windy

Keeping with the 50% performance rate achieved at the last incident, true to form on the 5th March, our recycling wasn’t collected

This time, I emailed the Recycling Advisor directly about this, and in the morning copied in our local Councillors in an attempt to get some help on this ongoing issue.

This was the view from my bedroom window the following morning:

Fulwich Rd Rubbish

Given that (in my opinion) ‘next few times’ can’t amount to ‘one time’ to monitor the collections on Fulwich Road, I was surprised that this wasn’t picked up.

And, all credit to Cllrs Sandhu and Street for responding to me (I understand Cllr Baker wasn’t around at the time, so won’t begrudge that).

Cllr Street went to great effort to look at alternatives for the problem of turning a dump truck into Fulwich Road - which was the excuse from DBC as to why we didn’t get our collection.

I did point out that a few doors down from me, we have a removals company that constantly take their large trucks down the road. Oh, and that the non-recyclables got collected (though apparently they are 4ft less wide)

And apparently on March 19th this will be monitored by DBC through the day to see the problems of getting the trucks down Fulwich Rd.

I was also told I would get feedback on March 19th.

I got nothing.

Though I did get a... [more]

That Calendar Of Recycling Collections. That Was Just For Fun

05 Feb 2014

Another missed collection. Another windy day

So including the failed collection at the end of 2013, the scores of successful Recycling collection at this point now stood at: 2 successful, 2 failures.

Pretty rubbish really, don’t you think?

And…no, the rubbish wasn’t pretty, especially with the wind, and the foxes, helping it recycle across the street

Reported

Reported it, again. This time (and I’m not proud of this) using capitals to point out it affected the whole of Fulwich Road, not just my property, and also asking for a guarantee this wouldn’t happen again.

I also tweeted our local Councillor (now our Mayor) - no response (though apparently he also has a hall for rent)

However the Recycling Advisor from Dartford Borough Council (DBC) advised she will ensure recycling got collected, and will be on Fulwich Road for the next few times to make sure it doesn’t happen again…well I think you know where this story goes?

#Crazy

Looking back at my tweets, it’s around this time I had the crazy idea of considering standing as Councillor for my local ward, cos, well even at this point I was tired of inaction and self-interest…

My soapbox? Social media, and the internet, an area I know well


A Rubbish Attempt At Collecting Post Christmas Recycling

27 Dec 2013

So that was Christmas, and what’s the Recycling truck done?

Nothing, that’s what. At least not on Fulwich Road.

Before I go further, I’d like to point out this post was written 5 months after the fact, though in the interests of making a decent timeline of stuff, I’ve back-dated it to detail the events of late-2013. I hope that’s ok with you?

What didn’t happen?

Our recycling didn’t get collected on Friday 27th December as promised on the calendar provided to Newtown residents.

In 2013, Christmas fell on a Wednesday, which meant our recycling collection got shifted on by 2 days. And obviously given it’s the season to give presents, bins were overflowing already, so the extra 2 days was just about acceptable.

Me? Well I had a massive declutter (you’d never guess that looking at my house…), and had the cardboard box of cardboard to go out, as well as a full Recycling Grey bin. Like a good citizen, the box of boxes went out on Friday morning ready for collection.

I didn’t put side-loaded stuff out in advance of Friday, cos, and you’ll remember this, we had some pretty strong winds over the last week of 2013. Some epic winds. The only thing missing was the flying cow. So whilst I packed the cardboard in pretty tight, and also used gaffer tape to make sure it won’t come apart in the rain, I still didn’t want to put it out until collection day.

Sadly, the... [more]
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AM Peak   PM Peak   Off Peak   Total
Standard First Standard First Standard First  
112,762 2,684 108,111 2,640 615,789 14,036 856,022

Related links


Southeastern Railway Action Group
Dartford Rail Travellers' Association
Dartford Rail Travellers Association (Facebook)
Dartford Rail Travellers Association (Twitter)