26 June 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 just a broadcast service from our loveable train company, and later via the customer contact form on their site.

The message I sent them was this:

Hi, The 1801 from CHX arrived at DFD tonight, and then became a non-stopping service to Gillingham. Given that this service is used by hard-working commuters who just want to get home in the evening, why do you feel it is acceptable for those living beyond DFD, (not including Gillingham) to have to be further delayed? I note from your email alerts that the reason for the delay was due to a delay on a previous journey - however the train arrived at CHX well in advance of 1801 and was held, not leaving until 1805. This was later changed to an ‘earlier problem’. I’m sure the residents of Dartford would like some clarity as to why they were delayed this evening, and I would like to convey any response to this message to them - if you oppose this (I know you have a standard boilerplate disclaimer footer, but I’m sure you’d like your commuters to know the clear facts), then let me know. Regards, Phil

I apologise for the formatting of this paste. This is what their email system responded with, and it will make sense when I post their reply

Later that evening I also sent this in mild frustration at how they handle their Twitter account:

Hi, You no longer report customer service performance on the website. Can you let me know the recent performance stats for responses to customers? Also, is there an ongoing way to find this without an explicit question? As per my previous correspondence, if you object (over and above your standard boilerplate footer) to me pasting the response to social media, then please let me know. Finally - are you able to let me know (and show where this is documented) which forms of communication are counted in the customer service performance? Since I now note you call out twitter as a form of communication here: http://www.southeasternrailway.co.uk/contact/contact/ Regards, Phil

Southeastern replies

Today, I received an email from them.

I will quote the response here:

Dear Mr Rogers

Thank you for your web form dated 16 June 2014.

I’m very sorry your journey from London Charing Cross to Dartford was delayed due to your train making extra stops. I can appreciate how frustrating this must have been.

I can assure you this only happens if there’s been a cancellation to an earlier service, leaving passengers waiting at stations for a long time. To be fair to these passengers, we’ll allow the train to make additional stops. However, we realise that for passengers already on the train this will cause a slight delay.

On this occasion, there was a problem with an earlier service which had a knock on affect to other trains, causing cancellations and delays. This included your train, the 18:01 service from London Charing Cross to Dartford.

Whenever there are delays we aim to try and get services back running normally as quickly as possible. We’re also determined and committed to make sure that we provide the best service we can for you and other passengers, so I hope you’ll notice improvements in the future.

With regards to our performance figures, these are published on our website at: http://www.southeasternrailway.co.uk/about-us/our-network/performance/.

I can also confirm that 100% of all correspondence received from passengers is replied to. We do aim to reply to all correspondence received either by email or letter within 10 working days.

The passenger feedback we receive is invaluable in helping us to highlight areas of our service we may be able to improve whether it’s by email, letter or twitter.

We’re always looking to improve the way we communicate with our passengers, as well as providing information to them as quickly as possible. As such, passengers can contact us by letter, via our website contact page at: http://www.southeasternrailway.co.uk/contact/contact-us-form/, as well as our twitter account at twitter@Se_ Railway. Our customer services team can also be contacted by calling: 0845 000 2222.

With regards to our twitter account, the feedback from passengers has been very positive and we’ve over 33,000 followers.

Our twitter team are available to answer questions and queries between 07:00 and 22:00 Monday to Friday. We do aim to answer all queries we receive via twitter as quickly as possible, but this may not always be possible, especially when services may be subject to disruption.

Thank you for taking the time to contact us with your concerns. I hope your future journeys are a more positive and trouble free experience.


So, great, a response, but totally useless.

They acknowledged I responded, but then apologised for the train making extra stops. I’m sure that the residents of Dartford and the surrounding area would have really appreciated those extra stops. Unfortunately they experienced an extended, unexpected, stop on the platform at Dartford station and were further delayed.

They have not addressed the issue that Dartford commuters beyond Dartford station were inconvenienced, and just responded with standard cut and paste nonsense.

Yes. Very frustrating.

Also, the response about communication was ignored, I know the PPM figures, though don’t know their Customer Service figures, which I asked them for. This is clearly stated here: Southeastern website that I can ask for the figures via Customer Services, and totally ignored, as usual.

So, 100% responses, yes, 100% useful, no.

Total lack of respect for Dartford commuters

This post, and the responses from Southeastern show a continuing lack of respect for the fare paying commuters in the Dartford area.

If it’s not blocking of staircases at Dartford station, it’s ignoring the needs, and questions of commuters.

Whilst there continues to be a monopoly on the rail transport in the Dartford station, I don’t expect this to change - however Southeastern need to wake up and notice the concerns of their travellers.

Open message to Southeastern

If you would like me to redact any of the above (please note I did ask you explicitly if I could post your responses, you ignored that part, twice) - then I would happily do this…my contact details are in the ‘About’ section of this website.


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Related links

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