HOGRIDER 144 (JULY-SEPTEMBER 2014) PART 1
This newsletter contains evidence-based reports, research and analysis from the South Hampshire Rail Users’ Group [SHRUG]. Owing to ISP problems, this issue is complete only to 25.9.2014.
See our website [www.shrug.info] for a widely-sourced 15,000 word history of SWT which records the views of Ministers, MPs, regulatory bodies, rail experts, user groups and individual passengers.
Is this why so many passengers complain on Twitter day after day of wretched experiences on South West Trains?
New rail minister needs courage to stand up to Stagecoach
Belittling of disabled people now starts at the top of Stagecoach
Stagecoach's similar belittling of able-bodied passengers
The absurdities of Stagecoach hype: Real beneficiaries are directors holding over 150 million shares
Reliability on SWT: ‘cancelled’ trains still the tip of the iceberg: Timetables now little more than aspirational
Special events: Stagecoach SWT and Stagecoach East Midlands look after the pounds and let the passengers look after themselves
Solent area rail connectivity 1: What will follow the aspirations of 'Transforming Solent' as Stagecoach 'hits back' at critics
Solent area rail connectivity 2: Hour-long delays at piers; Debate in Commons about Isle of Wight ferries
RAIL: So SWT’s ‘fleecing’ of passengers no longer matters?
Ticket vending problems and lift failures on SWT (July-September)
Death of Mrs Thatcher's minister who dealt with, and admired, BR
Twitter exposes the daily obscenity of SWT: Treatment of passengers often as deplorable as the Stagecoach chairman's joking about disabled people
Report finds that bus de-regulation outside London is a failure Fires and other serious incidents on Stagecoach buses
In Brief Acknowledgements / Contact details
Is this why so many passengers complain on Twitter day after day of wretched experiences on South West Trains?
* 220,000,000 passenger journeys made on SWT annually;
* 150,000,000 Stagecoach shares held by Stagecoach directors.
New rail minister needs courage to stand up to Stagecoach
Claire Perry replaces Stephen Hammond
Stephen Hammond has been replaced as rail minister by Claire Perry, MP for Devizes. Views published in the Guardian of 27.5.2012 suggest she is strong-minded and has little time for idealogues of the right or left. We can hope therefore that she will not fall for DfT's entrenched dogma on franchising. To her credit, she has quickly recognised the frustration of passengers paying large amounts of money to stand on overcrowded trains. On 11.9.2014 the press reported SWT's 07.32 Woking-Waterloo to be the most overcrowded morning train in Britain, with nearly 7 people for every 4 seats. It was cancelled on the same day.
The shameful history of SWT
Stagecoach is now failing to deliver the advertised service on SWT on a daily basis. Rolling stock shortages in the commuting peaks are addressed by cutting stops, often with passengers being carried miles past their contracted destinations. The shareholding directors consider this unfortunate but acceptable. Extraordinarily, short trains and overcrowding are common even at weekends.
Historically, governments on either side of the political divide have been pretty weak in standing up to Stagecoach [See our History of SWT on www.shrug.info]. Why was it allowed to keep a second SWT franchise reduced from twenty years to three for unacceptable performance - didn't passengers matter? Why was DfT's 'expectation' that it would introduce cheaper shoulder-peak season tickets in the third franchise forgotten, while first class, off-peak and car parking charges were allowed to soar?
The rot started in the first Stagecoach franchise, for example when Stagecoach director Brian Cox referred to passengers as 'fully paid-up members of the 'Hindsight Club' after SWT disposed of too many drivers and slashed services. Transport Minister Steven Norris told author Christian Wolmar: "Awarding the franchise to Stagecoach was really taking the fight to the enemy --- It was the most aggressive decision we could take, and if we had tried to dress privatisation in its most acceptable form, it would have been better to award it to almost anyone else".
A flood of wretched ratings for SWT
This newsletter has always argued that the headline satisfaction figures in Passenger Focus' twice-yearly surveys are excessively generous because they refer to the journey which the passenger has just made. This doesn't properly reflect the experiences of commuters, who pay thousands of pounds annually and need a reliable service day after day. Unreliability must cost Britain huge amounts of money in lost time and a stressed workforce.
Recent research by Passenger Focus indicates that 75% of the 'most recent journeys' made on SWT are rated satisfactory. So, of some 220 million annual passenger journeys on SWT, well over one million journeys a week are rated unsatisfactory.
However, Passenger Focus also found that satisfaction with 'the most frequent journey' (typically the commuting experience) on SWT stands at just 49%. Research by 'Which?' into the experiences of frequent travellers scored SWT similarly, as joint-15th best operator at 45% for overall rating, and 39% for commuting. Things will sometimes go wrong in any rail operation, but Twitter makes clear that SWT commuters are particularly stressed through the indifference, contempt and overwhelming focus on money-grabbing and operational convenience which they so often encounter.
In almost any business other than the railways, regular users would be treated as valued best customers, and further recent research by Passenger Focus on trust in rail operators stressed the importance of passengers feeling that the train operating companies are on their side. Since this is the last thing which most regular travellers on SWT would feel [See Twitter complaints], it's unsurprising that SWT scored 8% (14th-best) for trust in judgement; minus 10% (15th-best) for trust in relationship; and minus 18% (joint 13th-best) for trust in service.
Belittling of disabled people now starts at the top of Stagecoach
Earlier this year, a delegate walked out of a conference in Edinburgh after Stagecoach chairman Brian Souter spun a long offensive joke about paranoia and schizophrenia. The delegate, Euan Mackenzie, of Edinburgh-based software and technology company 1partCarbon, later told The Scotsman: “I’m totally amazed that a group of well-educated people can still sit in a room and listen to poorly constructed jokes about mental health. I don’t understand how, in this day and age, people can get away with it and nobody stands up against it.” Other critics included former Downing Street adviser Alistair Campbell; Norman Lamb, Minister for Care and Support; and Judith Robertson. Director of mental health campaign, See Me. [Source: Scotsman, 9.5.2014]
Mr Souter once opined that, "ethics are not irrelevant but some are incompatible with what we have to do because capitalism is based on greed", whilst the High Court ruled that it would not be in the public interest to block the World in Action's 'Cowboy Country' programme, which effectively branded Stagecoach as a cowboy company. His behaviour may help explain why some disabled people get such wretched treatment on SWT:
[Source: Daily Mail]
45-year-old quadriplegic Geoff Holt had made a solo and unaided 2,700 mile voyage across the Atlantic. He became the first disabled person to sail single-handed around Britain while confined to a wheelchair, and was awarded an MBE in 2010. In May 2012 he found travelling from Ryde Pier Head to Ryde Esplanade by Stagecoach SWT a much more daunting experience. He stated: “I can't recall the last time that I was so angry and upset. I was physically shaking, emotion choking my voice, a sense of genuine rage.”
He quoted the guard as saying that wheelchairs weren’t allowed on the trains as they would damage the floors, and there was no guarantee that he would be able to alight after making the three-minute journey. When Mr Holt said he had made the same journey hours earlier the guard replied: “Rubbish, you would not have been allowed to board the train”. After several minutes of this posturing, the guard lifted the train’s ramp and threw it on the platform, hitting Mr Holt’s foot and leg in the process. When he got home, he found he was grazed and bleeding. British Transport Police were to investigate Mr Holt’s injury, but he generously withdrew his allegation of common assault, highlighting the training issue which SWT needed to address. Mr Holt added: ‘He had publicly humiliated me, he had publicly degraded me and he had made me feel like a worthless piece of dirt... it was quite simply the most disgusting way to treat another human being, let alone a disabled one.’
[Source: Portsmouth News]
In September 2012, disabled athlete Cecilia Turk was left disgusted at the lack of help given to her during a train journey. Cecilia, 29, suffered from cerebral palsy and had tried to be part of the boccia team at the Paralympics. She travelled from Havant to Andover on SWT, along with a support worker and a friend. Her return journey turned into a nightmare when calls to help her on the train were ignored.
Cecilia said: ‘I had both tickets and assistance booked for my outward and inward journeys. As circumstance would have it, I was unable reach the station in time to catch my planned return train. This wasn’t an issue as there would be more trains, so my support worker pressed the information button to speak to staff. The man we spoke to informed us that on the next train to arrive, the guard would be aware of my presence at the station and the assistance required.’
But she was left shocked when she was ignored by the guard who was supposed to help. ‘When the train arrived the guard could be seen at the front of the train with his head poking out of the window,’ she added. My friend who also has cerebral palsy ran towards him shouting. ‘The guard ignored him and the train left the station. ‘I’m sorry but a tall, red-haired girl sat in a huge wheelchair and two people running should be enough to obtain anyone’s attention.’
Cecilia, who is studying a masters degree in accessibility and law at the University of Portsmouth, said: ‘I’m disgusted by the treatment I received and horrified that other disabled passengers may be receiving this treatment on a daily basis. There are not many forms of public transport accessible to me and now I am worried and put off from using South West Trains in the future.’
[Source: SWT Twitter May-September 2014]
* You can see how close I have to sit to the toilet as you can see me in the mirror from the place my wheelchair is situated. [Response: Not a pleasant sight. I've informed the train care team and they'll clean it when it gets in.]
* Guard on 1546 from Clapham Junction to Brockenhurst would not hold the train to allow wheelchair access. Disgusted. Guard said nothing he could do as passenger was at wrong end of train on platform 9, despite having ramp and customer assistance. [Response: Unfortunately we can't always hold trains when this happens. I believe the platform staff is new, sorry for the problems.]
* Would you care to address this? Thanks to SWT for leaving me stranded at Vauxhall at 1am. I'm blind.
* Just witnessed a lady with crutches getting trapped in a train door on SWT. Surely the conductor's meant to wait till everyone off?????
* Really disappointed with SWT after pre-ordered disabled assistance didn't materialise for my disabled Father. Not acceptable!
* Disgusting service from on-board guard on the 11:53 Wareham to Waterloo just now. Needed ramps. Too much effort. Made us feel bad.
* There are taxis that take wheelchairs right outside the station but you do not have a contract with them. [Response: We have arranged a taxi that can safely accommodate you, this will be with you in 20 minutes. Apologies for the delay.] … Still not here. Been waiting an hour and a half. Will the taxi take us to London to make up time? [Response: The taxi will cover the journey where we have engineering work only.]
* Disgusted with this company. Deliberately making their trains inaccessible to the disabled. Seriously, what the hell difference does it make if her scooter has 4 wheels so long as it's inside the size requirements?!?
* Being delayed at Earley towards Reading as your employee cannot work out how to use a disabled ramp! More training needed.
Stagecoach's similar belittling of able-bodied passengers
The lengths to which some SWT staff will go to abuse or harass passengers, or just make them feel uncomfortable, are sometimes quite extraordinary. The ongoing nature of the problem suggests the company just pays lip service when people complain. This is unsurprising given the Stagecoach chairman's attitude. Our Group has collected substantial numbers of illustrative allegations from Twitter. Even in the unlikely event of a significant number of these complaints being unreasonable, the overall picture would still be pretty damning.
Stagecoach offered £600m more than the next highest bidder for a third SWT franchise. It now squeezes every penny out of passengers, even if this means treating normal, decent people as if they were criminals. Mr Souter might care to remember that not all families have members with unpleasant criminal records. One Southampton resident commented in Railnews: “When I normally have to suffer the ‘every passenger is a criminal’ attitude employed by SWT in Southampton, I find that First Group’s friendly and proactive approach makes a huge difference”.
There can be a good rake-off from wrong-footing passengers. Remember, for example, the leaked SWT memo which told guards to treat passengers as fare dodgers even if they asked to buy a ticket? Guards would be accountable for accepting excuses even if passengers said they had queued for 15 minutes and could have missed their train. The memo also said that children must be penalized even at weekends and bank holidays when cheaper fares were available. Guards must tell passengers they could be liable for an additional £20 on the spot fine and could be prosecuted for fare evasion. “From now, your commercial duties will be measured in three main areas: the amount of revenue you collect; the type of tickets that you sell; and the number of penalty fare warnings that you issue.”
Other forms of intimidation surface from time to time. Remember how a 25-year-old musician was ‘invited’ to leave a Portsmouth-Southampton train by SWT’s Community Rail Officers? They had had nothing better to do than snoop on him, and noticed he had written the word ‘Killers’, the abbreviated name of one of David Cameron's favourite pop groups.
The paucity of professionalism shines through on SWT. Rail commuters typically lead busy, stressed lives. A professional organisation understands its customers and tries to mitigate their problems. If you forget something or lose something, you can expect a helpful attitude. In any situation you expect to be treated fairly, reasonably and with courtesy. Yet Twitter reveals that the abuse of SWT passengers is a daily event. Some even feel compelled to complain on behalf of others, such as women or children who have been reduced to tears. When the chairman of the parent company ridicules mental disability in a public address, is all this surprising?
Note this conversation: “You took my husband’s season ticket today as he'd forgotten his photo card. Guards very rude. Phone number given doesn't help him. Why confiscate a season ticket when he'd forgotten his photo card? How can he get his ticket back? He needs it to get home! [Response: Our revenue department should get in touch via a letter to advise him on what will happen next.] Presumably Stagecoach paranoia means that if you forget your photocard you are automatically treated as trying to commit some kind of offence.
Note the similar corporate paranoia in this situation: "Why destroy my season ticket when it's in your possession after 24 hours then charge me £10 for a new print out. Seems a bit unfair?" [Response: "Hi, this is done to prevent unauthorised misuse."] "!So I pay for the lack of trust you have for your staff?!" [Response: "There have been occasions of fraudulent misuse of season tickets by passengers, hence the new regulations."] "But it was in your possession?" [Response: "We have had customers apply for a duplicate at one station and the same day gone to collect their original from local station."] "OK, so your systems are not connected then?"
And in this one: A man booked an Advance ticket from Poole to Waterloo, then asked if he could join the train at Bournemouth to avoid a replacement bus service. Answer "No". Yet the issue here wasn't that Stagecoach would lose a single penny if he joined the train at Bournemouth, but rather that the company wasn't prepared to forgo the opportunity of a much more expensive replacement ticket if he failed to comply with a minor technicality.
An example of gratuitous contempt on SWT
SHRUG's co-ordinator is now retired from commuting and manages to avoid SWT for some 95% of his journeys, but knows some people who won't use them at all. The inflexible fares structure, hard-seated Desiro trains, unpredictable staff attitudes, frequent unpleasantness directed at fellow passengers, and constant threatening announcements simply make the experience too stressful.
Southern's great-value Daysave tickets are therefore his usual means of getting to London. The problem is that these tickets don't work SWT gates. Even at Southampton Central, few staff know about these tickets. Many don't, and it's obvious there is no relevant training. Take the ticket to the barrier attendant, explain the issue, and they will often make you try to use the gate, or shove through your ticket themselves with a flourish, demonstrating that they don't believe you.
The 10th of September started well because the gates at 'secure' Southampton Central station were open and unattended at 06.30. At Victoria, passengers poured off the train and Southern's friendly staff minimised delays by keeping a gate unlocked and checking tickets as people passed through. He got back to Southampton off the 16.33 from Brighton. The gates were now attended. He went through the motions of putting his ticket through, right under the nose of the attendant. As usual, it didn't work.
Another passenger with a valid ticket couldn't activate an adjacent gate and the attendant locked the gate open for her. He followed her through the locked-open gate, holding up his ticket for the attendant to see. The attendant looked at it and snapped: "You don't follow someone else through the gates, you put your ticket through". Yet here was a passenger showing a valid ticket, and the attendant was standing next to him and must have seen him try to activate the gate. What kind of paranoia induces these flawed human beings to demonstrate their contempt for honest members of the public? Is it their attitude that Stagecoach directors can belittle people as they please, so why shouldn't they do likewise?
It seems long overdue, but shouldn't DfT confine franchise awards to professional operators, demonstrating that it cares about the treatment of passengers? It will be interesting to see if East Coast passengers are moved from a popular public-sector railway to the Cowboy Country's Hindsight Club. Apposite comments from Twitter on 27.8.2014: "Have you considered handing back the franchise?" [Response: "No, this would not be in the best interest of the business."] "But it would be in the best interest of your passengers. So does this mean you don't care about your passengers?"
Relevant letter in the Evening Standard of 22/9/2014: "I always thought Clapham Junction was meant to be a railway station but, passing through the other day, I was shocked to see it had been turned into a rubbish dump, with piles of rubbish everywhere. R S Allan."
Extract from further relevant letter, in the Evening Standard of 27.8.2014, about East Coast's need for modernisation: "At least the state-owned operator offers better customer service, within the limitations of the infrastructure, than its private sector equivalents. Please modernise every aspect of East Coast immediately, but please, please let's not Virginise it! Peter Wright. Brentford." Mr Wright seems to have been misled into believing that Virgin is bidding for East Coast, rather than having just a 10% share, avoiding the need for Stagecoach to trade under its own name.
The absurdities of Stagecoach hype:
Real beneficiaries are directors holding over 150 million shares
In the July 2014 issue of Rail Professional, Stagecoach Chief Executive Martin Griffiths, states: “As passengers are at the heart of what we do, we know we must keep improving and investing, driving up the quality of services to respond to our customers’ needs.” When he says 'improving and investing' has he forgotten Stagecoach's 2013 Annual Report in which he spoke of a 4.2% operating margin that has 'low cash injected, meaning excellent returns on capital'?
In Stagecoach’s 2014 Annual Report, he states: “It is no secret we would like to see the pace pick up on UK railways so we can deliver the benefits of franchising to passengers and taxpayers. Overall, I believe our track record of innovation, partnership and growth can benefit passengers and taxpayers and give us a competitive advantage which can generate good returns for our shareholders”. Doesn't he mean, ‘good returns for ourselves’ rather than ‘good returns for our shareholders’? Section 4.3 of the report confirms that, at 23 June 2014, Stagecoach directors were holding well over 150 million shares in the company. Mr Griffiths held 397,164, Stagecoach co-founder Ann Gloag held 62,501,721 and Stagecoach co-founder Brian Souter held 86,900,445.
The report also declares that: "In rail, we seek to deliver organic growth across all of our existing operations and to maintain and grow the business by bidding for selected new franchises where the risk/return trade-off is acceptable." Stagecoach won the current SWT franchise by offering some £600m more than the second highest bidder. It then reduced station staffing, with long ticket queues effectively increasing journey times; raised many off-peak weekday fares by 20%; increased the premium on first class fares from 50% to 80%; implemented big increases in station car parking charges; and introduced a vicious revenue protection regime. Stagecoach didn't, however, fulfill the DfT's 'expectation' that it would introduce cheaper season tickets for shoulder peak travel on SWT.
Whilst Stagecoach now claims it has low returns on its rail operations, its keenness to retain SWT was doubtless due to the huge early subsidies which, for example, resulted in a £58.9 million profit on turnover of around £500 million in a single year. By 2012-13 it was reportedly costing taxpayers £127m in revenue support. These are the kinds of 'risk/return trade-off' which most businesses would be happy to face.
Finally, remember Stagecoach's prospectus for the current SWT franchise, cynically entitled 'Building on Success', even though its previous franchise had been reduced from 20 years to just three, because of its appalling performance? Guess the title of the Stagecoach prospectus for the East Coast franchise, in which Virgin would have a nominal 10% interest. You're right! Here's an extract from the new 'Building on Success':
'Both our companies have been built on a similar ethos – excellence in customer service and innovation – and a desire not just to excel at what we do, but to ensure our customers enjoyed our service so much they want to travel with us again. With empowered management able to focus on local issues and to listen and act on local concerns, our businesses have never lost sight of their connection to and the importance of our customers. To deliver this we have invested heavily in both improving the products we offer and by daring to be different in developing new products and services. By bringing together our two businesses we believe we can create a franchise to achieve the objectives set by the Government and to meet the aspirations of its passengers and stakeholders.'
Examination of SWT's Twitter records shows that this is pure cloudcuckooland stuff so far as Stagecoach is concerned, with no regard to fact. While passengers tweet about wretched experiences on SWT, SWT tweets back any tiny bit of perceived good news, even about moustaches painted on train ends or bird boxes at just five stations. The deceptions and distractions will continue for as long as government allows. What this achieves, except help maintain the Stagecoach directors' 150 million shares or help UKIP, is anyone's guess.
Despite the recession, the joint wealth of the two Stagecoach founders has now passed £1 billion. Danny Dorling author of "Inequality and the 1%" considers that: "The language and moral sentiment is changing. By being angry and disgusted with the current extent of inequality, we make it unacceptable, and its defenders become pariahs. Gross economic inequality is as vile as racism, misogyny and hatred of the disabled; as damaging in effect; and as dependent on a small group of supporters who believe that just a few should have more and more and more, because they're worth it."
Reliability on SWT: ‘cancelled’ trains still the tip of the iceberg: Timetables now little more than aspirational
SWT's performance figures for 'preceding 52 week' periods have shown punctuality targets missed but 'reliability' targets exceeded long-term. A footnote on SWT's website explains that 'reliability' means: 'Percentage of the advertised train service actually operated (Monday to Friday all day)'.
The following table illustrates how trains 'actually operated' represent only a fraction of the capacity lost both through stop-skipping to mitigate the punctuality statistics, and through failure to run full-length trains.
The figures are from snapshot sampling of SWT’s live running data. Whilst they do not represent the full numbers of trains in each category, the samples are very substantial and the proportionality should be statistically valid for illustrative purposes. Full details of relevant trains are in Part 2 of this newsletter. See www.shrug.info.
During July, a month of particularly wretched performance, it was clear that Stagecoach had decided to start disadvantaging its long-suffering passengers even more by stepping up 'stop-skipping'. Whereas, seriously delayed trains were already omitting a succession of stops, slightly delayed or short-formed services are also now omitting even a single stop. Twitter revealed that passengers were continuing to be carried past their stops where onboard announcements about cancelled stops were not made or were inaudible.
At worst, they may then be threatened with fines for travelling past their station: Part of Twitter conversation on 15.9.2014: "Why didn't the train stop at Hersham or Esher? We've had shorter trains before? What makes it worse is you guys have the audacity to try and fine us at Walton!?! Why didn't the train stop?" [Response: "This is to try and control how busy the train gets, even 4 carriages short can result in dangerous overcrowding. I will get a message out to our revenue team."] "No need, I gave the rude ******** the message!"
Illustrative table of SWT 'reliability'
|April 2014||May 2014||June 2014||July 2014||August 2014||1-26 September 2014|
|Whole train equivalents of missing carriages.||175||134||191||410||244||183|
|Trains not making all scheduled stops||428||521||560||875||454||336|
|Trains not making all scheduled stops||49%||60%||61%||54%||55%||57%|
(1) Percentages may not sum to 100% due to rounding.
(2) Whole train equivalents, for example, treat two half-length trains as one cancelled service.
(3) Trains not making all scheduled stops arise from stop-skipping, not running full route, and diversion from scheduled route.
(4) Data for September cover the period to 26.9.2014 only, owing to ISP problems.
Special events: Stagecoach SWT and Stagecoach East Midlands look after the pounds and let the passengers look after themselves
>From SWT's website: "Bournemouth Air Show 28 - 31 August 2014: Services to Bournemouth will be busier than normal between Thursday 28th & Sunday 31st of August for the Bournemouth Air Show.
Extra train services are being provided, but a queuing system may need to be put in place for your personal safety. If you are planning to travel from Bournemouth Station, or are returning from the air show on these dates we strongly recommend you arrive at the station early, and allow extra time to complete your journey."
That leaves the question of how people are supposed to get TO the show. At 09.55 on the Saturday, there were only two ticket windows open on the up side at Southampton Central, with 47 people queuing. Another 29 were queuing at the ticket machines. On the down side, one window was open, with 29 people queuing and a similar number queuing at the ticket machines. The queues were constantly growing. Service at the windows was slow, and one ticket machine on the down side was particularly awkward. For some stages, the touch screen only responded to a punch, and using fists meant that the wrong option could be activated, leading to further delay. This kind of problem with SWT's machines has been raised on Twitter but presumably Stagecoach profiteering doesn't allow for remedial action.
Anyone who thinks this wasn't part of the normal Stagecoach experience, may not have read the following letter in RAIL, issue 754:
“A tale of two companies
Here are two Facebook comments from different branches of our family who both wanted to see their respective Tour de France finishes in Sheffield and Harrogate.
Firstly: “A huge sporting event is passing through Sheffield. You run an hourly service from Dronfield so, on the day of the event, do you…
a) Do everything you can to try and get the thousands of extra passengers to Sheffield.
b) Put on extra carriages and trains to at least make a difference. c) Run the same hourly service with just two carriages and let the poor train driver face the questions from hundreds of disappointed passengers left stranded on the platform.
If you answered ‘c’ then congratulations, you have East Midlands Trains."
Secondly: “Northern Rail put on a special shuttle from Leeds to Harrogate, with two DRS diesels, back and front, with nine carriages, and a plaque on the front diesel saying ‘We are taking you to the tour’ plus spokes on the buffers.”
Full marks to Northern for getting it right. Keith Woodard, Knaresborough."
What a difference between the Stagecoach approach and careful planning for events like the Henley Regatta, Glastonbury Festival and Dawlish Air Show, as seen on the TV series about First Great Western. And to rub salt into the passengers' wounds, East Midlands has just won the Passenger Operator of the Year award in the annual National Rail Awards. Someone's sense of humour must be as perverse as the Stagecoach chairman's when he is joking about mental illness.
Solent area rail connectivity 1: What will follow the aspirations of 'Transforming Solent' as Stagecoach 'hits back' at critics?
The report 'Transforming Solent', commissioned by former Minister for Portsmouth, Michael Fallon, singled out the current rail infrastructure as ‘acting as a severe brake on economic growth’ and selected rail connectivity as a top priority. So what are the issues?
The Stagecoach problem
Almost everywhere you look, Hampshire's fast-growing population is being mismatched by downgraded services since the SWT franchise was awarded to Stagecoach.
Under the final BR timetable the standard-hour timetable included three trains from Waterloo via Guildford, taking 81, 85 and 98 minutes to Portsmouth & Southsea. Currently, the trains take 88, 92 and 119 minutes, with the slowest service overtaken en route. In BR days the route was branded Inter-City. Stagecoach refuses even to call it main-line.
The fastest hourly Southampton-Waterloo service took 73 minutes compared with 79 minutes today. From Waterloo to Eastleigh the journey time has stretched from 72 to 78 minutes. From Waterloo to Totton (fourth largest town between Southampton and Weymouth) the journey time by the direct hourly train has stretched from 91 to 116 minutes. Five years of meteoric growth in passenger footfall at Totton was followed by five years of stagnation following this particularly dramatic downgrade.
The direct hourly service from Eastleigh to Bournemouth has stretched from 52 to 102 minutes, and from Totton to Bournemouth from 34 to 67 minutes. On Mondays to Fridays there is no train from Southampton to the adjacent town of Eastleigh between 07.38 and 08.35. The two trains per hour between Southampton Central and St Denys, on the eastern side of the city and close to the principal student area, run a few minutes apart in both directions. On Sundays, trains leave Southampton for Eastleigh at 55 and 59 past each hour.
Direct trains between southern Hampshire and the West of England have been withdrawn, yet research has consistently confirmed that passengers worry about changing trains, particularly as companies like SWT are cavalier about connections.
The hourly weekday service between Southampton and Portsmouth comprises a First Great Western fast service and SWT stopping service which arrive and depart from Portsmouth & Southsea a few minutes apart in each hour. Cross Country trains between Bournemouth and Manchester have very poor connections at Southampton for Portsmouth passengers. These trains previously had good same-platform SWT connections at Winchester.
Then there's rolling stock. Stagecoach disposed of 120 good quality Wessex Electric carriages built at taxpayers' expense for the Waterloo-Weymouth route. After outbidding its rivals for a third SWT franchise, it underpinned it profits by replacing them with lower-quality class 444 units and outer-suburban class 450s.
The latter provide cramped and miserable conditions for many Waterloo-Portsmouth commuters, and regularly appear even on the longer-distance Waterloo-Weymouth services. After seven years arguing that these trains are suitable for longer-distance services, SWT is now admitting that the '450s are designed for shorter distance high volume journeys' (Source: Twitter, 11.9.2014) but still intends to introduce more of them on evening trains from Waterloo to Portsmouth.
Any hope of the Wessex Electrics returning to SWT appears to be dashed because owner Angel Trains is reportedly looking at removing their electric motors and using them as hauled stock with pairs of Inter City 125 (HST) locomotives. This would provide a number of HST-type trains without the slam doors of the current fleet (Source: Modern Railways October 2014).
Enterprise deal's weasel words
The latest Solent Local Enterprise Partnership deal, in transport terms, provides only for road improvements and moving Southampton's Red Funnel ferry terminal to allow redevelopment of the existing site. Further North, the Enterprise M3 growth deal provides money just for roads and Woking station improvements.
What the M3 deal does say on rail is: 'The Department for Transport also commits to encourage bidders for franchises to identify and take into account the priorities of Local Enterprise Partnerships and other key local stakeholders as part of the franchising process, and will also encourage Train Operating Companies to continue with, and enhance where possible, their engagement with Local Enterprise Partnerships as key local stakeholders.'
Notice use of the weasel word 'encourage' twice. In dealings with ethically-limited companies such as Stagecoach, it can be seen as even weaker than 'expectation' as in the DfT's expectation that Stagecoach would introduced cheaper season tickets under the current SWT franchise to help shoulder-peak commuters.
Glimmer of hope for Portsmouth from a new Woking flyover?
How did Stagecoach manage to make its longer-distance electric train services so much worse? Well, it appears to have focused principally on the junction between the Portsmouth and Weymouth routes at Woking, and the high demand for first class season tickets at Haslemere. So Haslemere got a quarter-hourly clock-face service from Waterloo, with three trains per hour continuing to Portsmouth. Up and down Haslemere/Portsmouth trains pass each other in the vicinity of the Woking junction. That was convenient for maximising profit and operationally, but had bad effects on services to the Hampshire and Dorset Coast which then didn't fit comfortably.
The Portsmouth 'News' recently recorded further dismay that the Windsor line is to get a new fleet of trains in preference to Portsmouth. This particular fleet is of suburban units, which wouldn't be suitable for long-distance operation. Interestingly, though, Issue 757 of RAIL reports that the subsequent cascade of trains to other routes will require the as yet unfunded enhancements of platform extensions at Waterloo and a flyover at Woking to carry the up Portsmouth line over the down Weymouth line.
It's interesting also that extension of the SWT franchise from 2017 to 2019 is not yet final. The Evening Standard of 26.8.2014 stated that Stagecoach "expects its South West Trains and East Midlands franchises to be formally awarded shortly after the general election next May." Is this purely because any extension to a Stagecoach franchise is seen as political dynamite, and does DfT want the deal on SWT to be mitigated by commitments to provide a better long-distance timetable once funding of the flyover is confirmed?
Incidentally, recent thinking on a possible link from the SWT network to Heathrow Airport has been based on dual-portion trains from Waterloo to Windsor and Heathrow, and services from Guildford to Heathrow via Woking and Chertsey. The additional Guildford trains across the Woking junction would be difficult to realise without the flyover. However, Stagecoach has always been at odds with its passengers in showing little enthusiasm for Heathrow services on SWT, and in response to Q.93 of its September Webchat event states that there are no plans to enhance the infrastructure for Waterloo-Heathrow services.
In reply to Q.14 of the Webchat event, about poor services between Southampton and Portsmouth, SWT states: "We appreciate that there should be faster and more services between these two important cities, however the current mix of fast, semi-fast and stopping services on this route, most of which are integral to other services on their journey, make introducing further ones difficult and uneconomic. However, the Long Term Planning Process, currently being undertaken by Network Rail to look at demand over the next 30 years, has identified this route and beyond as potentially requiring change, and will identify choices for funders when it is published late this year". This is odd, because Network Rail has already confirmed that additional services would be possible providing stopping patterns varied. Did Stagecoach demand too much money to run the additional services?
Meanwhile, GTR (Govia Thameslink Railway, which will keep the Southern branding for existing Southern services) plans to divert the Southampton/Portsmouth-Gatwick Airport-Victoria services past Redhill station from the December 2015 timetable. This should save around 5 minutes. It will be interesting to see if the new timetable provides sufficient time at the Hampshire end of the route for the Southampton trains to make some extra stops between Swanwick and Southampton.
Stagecoach/NetworkRail Alliance hits back
It appears that Stagecoach is getting rattled by the longstanding dissatisfaction with its Portsmouth services and that the September Webchat on 23 September was the last straw. The following day the Alliance 'hit back' (its own words) at complaints that the railway in Portsmouth had been neglected. A statement on SWT's website highlighted recent improvements [mainly funded by taxpayers], such as new [and unreliable] signalling systems, improved station footbridges, and lifts [inaccessible when stations are left unstaffed]. It referred to the future lengthening of four evening services from Waterloo to Portsmouth, without mentioning that this would be through transfer of more of the unsuitable outer-suburban coaches, or in one case through switching stock from main-line to outer-suburban.
The statement continued: "We recognise that passengers need faster journeys to London and we have a vision to provide more and longer trains between Portsmouth and London. However, the existing Victorian infrastructure means it is currently physically impossible to improve the timetable any further. This situation cannot be changed overnight, however we are very focused on looking at longer term improvements in partnership with our stakeholders.
------ The Portsmouth line remains a key and important route for us and we now want to focus on how we can get the support and funding to deliver the improvements needed for this part of our network. We’re therefore planning a round-table meeting with MPs, local stakeholders and businesses in the Portsmouth and South Hampshire area to discuss the challenges and our plans for the future. We can solve these problems and build a better railway for the future, but only by working together.”
It seems incredible that any rail operator should feel impelled to state that a major rail route remained important. Why wouldn't it be seen to remain important unless it had been neglected/downgraded? And wouldn't it be a good idea if the Alliance looked at ways of undoing some of Stagecoach's detrimental timetable and rolling stock changes before begging for more money, particularly with the Woking flyover in prospect?
Solent area rail connectivity 2: Hour-long delays at piers; Debate in Commons about Isle of Wight ferries
The usefulness and productivity of SWT’s Shanklin-Ryde Pier Head 'Island Line' has traditionally been maximised by scheduling trains to connect with ferries between Ryde and Portsmouth Harbour and, thence, train services between Portsmouth Harbour and London Waterloo. Table 167 of the GB Rail Timetable continues to show good rail/ferry connections between Shanklin and Portsmouth. Table 156 indicates that there should be reasonable connections between Portsmouth Harbour and London.
A typical journey time between Shanklin and Waterloo of 2.5 to 3 hours is pretty mediocre. Yet it gets worse. Defying all logic, SWT's leaflets show connections of about 5 minutes at Ryde Pier Head for passengers transferring from trains to ferries, yet proclaim that "Where possible, customers are advised to allow at least 10 minutes to change". Even at times when the Island Line trains run twice- hourly, passengers would need to leave Shanklin 40 minutes earlier to allow 10 rather than 5 minutes to catch the ferry. So the typical journey time from Shanklin to Waterloo creeps up from 3 to 3.5 hours.
David Mead of Ashurst found a pretty miserable situation at Ryde on Sunday 20th July. He has since found anecdotal evidence that big numbers of passengers have routinely been stranded at Ryde Pier Head for an hour during the summer months. He therefore wrote to SWT and Wightlink pointing out that:
* SWT timetable leaflets, station timetables, and the NRES journey planner show Sunday services from Shanklin as connecting with the XX.47 sailings from Ryde Pier Head, with forward connections to London Waterloo. On Sunday 20th July, there were approximately 60 passengers travelling on the 17.18 train from Shanklin. On arrival they were refused admission to the 17.47 sailing, even though the Sunday ferry service had been reduced to hourly.
* According to Wightlink staff at the terminal, those trains are NOT CONNECTIONS, despite being shown as such on timetables and station boards. The gates are closed 2 minutes before departure and passengers for a particular ferry service have to check in at least 15 minutes in advance for ticket and security scanning.
* The 17.47 ferry was said to be already full when the train arrived, illustrating that the reduced ferry service was clearly not coping with seasonal demand.
* SWT and Island Line must have agreed timings times with Wightlink, otherwise the public rail timetable would surely not advertise through connectional services.
* Someone needs to look at this, and hopefully the current printed timetable can be amended on posters to reflect the change of connectional policy by Wightlink because the existing arrangements can cause a lot of anguish at Ryde Pier Head when passengers, some travelling to London and beyond, have an hour’s wait. After more delays through a signalling failure at Redbridge, it took 4 hours for Mr Mead himself to make a relatively short journey from Shanklin to Ashurst New Forest.
SWT replied that they advertise that ferry connections are not guaranteed; that Wightlink had now confirmed they do impose a 15-minute rule at busy times; that they themselves advise passengers [only in their timetable leaflets?] to allow at least 10 minutes for boarding; and that Wightlink’s own website states that gates close two minutes before sailings.
Wightlink replied that people make all sorts of connections at Portsmouth, so they never advertise connections with their ferries. Overall, the company runs 'thousands' of sailings at a loss, so wouldn't improve the service.
Despite their initial negative response, a Wightlink employee subsequently confirmed to Mr Mead that they had hired an additional ferry from Blue Funnel to improve their service on summer Sundays and at other peak times. We are unaware of any similarly commendable initiative by SWT to improve connections at Ryde or to change their timetable displays.
On 25 July, Mr Mead travelled with friends on the 18.05 Wightlink ferry from Yarmouth. The ferry was delayed and arrived at Lymington at 19.00. SWT did not hold the 19.03 train to Brockenhurst, despite the 19.33 being shown as cancelled, without reason. Some 20 passengers, many with onward rail journeys from Brockenhurst, were stranded for an hour. At Brockenhurst there were no staff to advise passengers. The 20.15 to Waterloo was shown as over an hour late. One person used the help point as the departures screen didn't show the 20.33 as stopping at Clapham Junction. The person at the other end couldn't help.
Mr Mead has also contacted Isle of Wight MP, Andrew Turner, who was aware of his constituents' concerns about their ferry services and pointed him to the Betters Ferries Campaign. Mr Turner has secured a debate on the ferries in the House of Commons on 13.10.2014, and is consulting campaign groups and ferry operators beforehand.
RAIL: So SWT’s ‘fleecing’ of passengers no longer matters?
In Issue 752 of RAIL magazine, editor Nigel Harris opines that “Our railway would be a much duller and far less vibrant place without Stagecoach”.
Could this be the same Nigel Harris who wrote of SWT’s revenue protection policy in Issue 569: “Maybe it’s because many railway people don’t actually pay fares – or not in full – especially very senior managers. But no-one likes to feel ripped-off and once you offend the British sense of fair play, you’re in trouble. Politicians forget this too but a bloody nose at election time usually reminds them. So, I watched in despair in mid-June as The Times ‘exposed’ South West Trains’ pre-meditated policy to “… fleece its passengers.” The harsh words “sharp practice”, and “profiteering” were used. SWT was “the unacceptable face of rail privatisation.” This is all enormously damaging – not just for Stagecoach, but the whole industry. RAIL was critical of SWT’s recent moves to manipulate the peak and impose 20% increases on off-peak fares and The Times was equally unimpressed. SWT’s protests about easing the post-peak rush were unconvincing: this is all about maximising revenues.”
Perhaps Mr Harris would like to explain how Stagecoach has changed its policy. Or is his latest comment a reflection of his staunch support for privatisation and Stagecoach’s succession of failed bids for new franchises?
Reply to Mr Harris in Issue 754
"Regular users of South West Trains must have been bemused by your praise of SWT (Comment, RAIL 752). I write in a week when there was again major disruption to services, with cancellations and short workings. Passengers from the Exeter line were again required to alight at Basingstoke and join already overcrowded services to complete their journeys, while some local services were cancelled completely. This time it was emergency track work between Wimbledon and Waterloo.
Frequently similar delays occur as a result of signalling problems. The much-lauded link with Network Rail clearly cannot cope with what is clearly unreliable and poor infrastructure. Carl Earl, Winsham."
Ticket vending problems and lift failures on SWT (July-September)
65 SWT ticket offices reported as closed during opening hours
Unstaffed stations present a range of security risks. In many cases, stations have only ‘facility managers’ whose principal task is to sell tickets. Yet, during the past three months, SWT’s website has advertised failures (in some cases prolonged and/or repeated) to staff ticket offices even during advertised opening hours at Addlestone, Aldershot, Alton, Andover, Ascot, Ash Vale, Ashford, Basingstoke, Bedhampton, Bitterne, Bracknell, Branksome, Brockenhurst, Byfleet & New Haw, Chandlers Ford, Chessington North, Clandon, Claygate, Cosham, Dorchester, Eastleigh, Esher, Farnborough Main, Feltham, Fratton, Gillingham, Guildford, Hampton Wick, Hamworthy, Haslemere, Havant, Hedge End, Hinton Admiral, Horsley, Hounslow, Liphook, London Road Guildford, Lymington Town, Mortlake, Netley, New Milton, Norbiton, Parkstone, Petersfield, Pokesdown, Portsmouth & Southsea, Portsmouth Harbour, Raynes Park, St Denys, Salisbury, Shepperton, Sherborne, Southampton Airport Parkway, Sway, Templecombe, Twickenham, Upper Halliford, Virginia Water, Walton-on-Thames, Wareham, West Byfleet, Weymouth, Whitton, Windsor & Eton Riverside.
Ticket machines reported as failed at 35 SWT stations
Ticket vending machines are as unreliable as ticket office opening hours on SWT. They have been advertised as out of action at Addlestone, Alton, Ascot, Ash Vale, Bentley, Berrylands, Byfleet & New Haw, Chertsey, Chessington North, Clandon, Claygate, Eastleigh, Esher, Feniton, Fratton, Fulwell, Grateley, Hampton, Hamworthy, Hersham, Micheldever, Oxshott, Pinhoe, Portchester, Queenstown Road, Shepperton, Sunbury, Totton, Upper Halliford, Virginia Water, Walton-on-Thames, Winchfield, Witley, Woolston, Worcester Park.
It is clear from Twitter, and from reports that we receive, that the real position on both offices and machines is even worse and that SWT is so poorly staffed that it often doesn't know of the problems until passengers tell them..
Mobility-impaired passengers beware; lift failures reported at 26 SWT stations
Lift failures (in some cases prolonged and/or repeated), a major problem for disabled people, have occurred at Aldershot, Axminster, Basingstoke, Brentford, Brockenhurst, Clapham Junction, Claygate, Earlsfield, Eastleigh, Fareham, Fratton, Havant, Kingston, London Waterloo, New Malden, Portsmouth & Southsea, Richmond, Southampton Central, Staines, Surbiton, Twickenham, Vauxhall, Weybridge, Wimbledon, Woking, Worcester Park.
Death of Mrs Thatcher's minister who dealt with, and admired, BR
The privatisation zealots are quick to ridicule BR, but omit to mention that it took over the railways after they had been severely battered during World War II; that there were no public funds in the early post-war years for serious modernisation; that society could not afford the levels of mobility we see today; and that railway technology has advanced considerably in recent years. Against the odds, dedicated professionals took BR forward with remarkable resilience and resourcefulness. Passengers enjoyed an improving railway with a comprehensible fares system and high standards of courtesy.
As we have noted before, Conservative minister David Mitchell, who sadly passed away at the end of August, actually worked with BR officials, and saluted their achievements as recorded in Rail News for June 2004:
"A former Tory transport minister has paid tribute to the managers who ran British Rail during the 1980s, saying “they should look back with pride”.
David Mitchell, who served in Margaret Thatcher’s government, said they had provided attractive punctual services with 27 per cent less subsidy than they had been getting. At the same time, 24 major projects were successfully achieved and BR became the only profitable main-line railway in Europe.
Mr Mitchell said that British Rail, a run-down system in the early 1980s with low morale, was transformed after the appointment of the late Sir Robert Reid. For 1984-87, the government tasked BR with running attractive, punctual services with 25 per cent less subsidy.
“BR’s acceptance of these objectives was mocked as ‘impossible’ and could only be done by slashing quality. But those who mocked had underestimated Bob Reid and the ability of his team of professional rail management to meet the challenge,” he told a meeting of the Retired Railway Officers’ Society.
“Actually the saving on subsidy rose above 25 per cent to some 27 per cent,” said Mr Mitchell, transport minister from 1983 to 1988.
Part of his job was to approve BR investment proposals. “Twenty-four major projects were successfully achieved, including well over 1,000 miles of electrification, over 2,000 new passenger vehicles, over 190 new locomotives, and new signalling”.
“BR was running more trains at 100mph or above than any railway anywhere in the world, excepting France."
Twitter exposes the daily obscenity of SWT: Treatment of passengers often as deplorable as the Stagecoach chairman's joking about disabled people
SWT’s Twitter facility provides information, apologises endlessly, and refers people to Customer Services who, if they are lucky, will send an often unhelpful reply weeks later. Passengers hate the rip-offs, problems with trains and stations, information deficit, cancelled stops, not getting replies from Customer Services, and the rudeness and aggression of some members of staff. Disabled people may be refused assistance or even told to seek help from other passengers. It must all be pretty depressing for decent members of staff as well.
What is particularly noticeable on Twitter is the virtual absence of any promise to improve the treatment of passengers. Some excerpts for July-September, with small grammatical corrections and selective underlining, are below.
PRICELESS SWT-SPEAK (July)
You couldn't be bothered to reply to this morning's tweet...another 4-coach tomorrow? [Response: We must have missed it due to being busy, apologies. We're awaiting parts for defective trains.]
Can you sort out the information boards on platform 1 at Ash Vale, still showing the 10.09 service? [Response: Sorry about the incorrect information, some of our platform screens are showing incorrect information at present due to lightning yesterday. We're waiting on spare parts to correct the problem with the information screens, in the meantime we have a temporary fix.]
You announce and sign at Waterloo that the 16.54 to Dorking was first stop Earlsfield yet you stop at Vauxhall [Response: This is to regulate our service.]
Empty train after empty train going by New Malden. Total mismanagement. 45 minutes and waiting - watching 5 empty trains go by. [Response: These are going empty in order to recover the service, following earlier signalling problems.]
It just seems so ridiculous that the lifts are there but not working! [Response: Hello. We've heard back about the lifts now. We need to install a new power supply for them to operate at 100% capacity.]
PRICELESS SWT-SPEAK (August)
The electronic displays for Guildford bound trains have been broken for well over a week [Response: We're aware of the issue, we're waiting for spare parts to repair this. Apologies for the lack of information meanwhile.]
How is it that the train scheduled for 08:22 at Putney station had already come and gone 08.21?? Please shed some light. [Response: Apologies for this departure, this is due to the green signal being given early.]
Why do trains scheduled to leave at 11.12 from Teddington leave when the clock shows 11.10? [Response: Hi, this was due to a timing error. Sorry for the inconvenience caused.]
It was empty. Run fast between Worcester Park and Epsom instead? Get more people home?? [Response: It was running empty and fast to make sure the service it forms isn't further delayed. Sorry for the delay this will cause.]
Why is Ashford the only station omitted because of the short formation? [Response: We only needed to remove a single stop to prevent delays to following services, sorry that it was the one you wanted.]
It's a special day. 100 working days have passed and still no answer to my query from SWT customer services. I've had e'mail saying it's being looked at a while ago but it's now 100 work days. Just crazy. [Response: We are still awaiting further reports from the various Alliance teams at the moment due to the nature of the complaint.]
[Response to tweet about closed waiting room: The waiting room should be unlocked when station is manned however some stations do keep them locked to avoid vandalism.] Only open a.m. and no vandalism. New staff though. Can you advise them please?
Your train from Syon Lane to Waterloo just left 2 minutes early leaving lots of us stranded on the platform. Not impressed. Why? [Response: Not sure why, we're looking into this at the moment. Sorry you (and others) missed the train as a result.]
Staff checked passenger's ticket and noticed ticket was valid to next stop. She then accused him of trying to stay on longer. [Response: Which stop was this at?] Between Guildford and London Road Guildford. [Response: I see. Did the other passenger get off at London Road?] Yes. As their ticket correctly stated. [Response: I see. Some people have been known to buy these types of tickets for fare evasion, hence the questions.]
If my oyster wasn't recognised at Hounslow, why could I not buy an extension? How is it your systems never work at Hounslow and as such it looks like you're making a bomb from fines. [Hi, what happened? Who are they phoning? What are they telling them?] They won't tell me, they're just standing in a corner. [Response: Revenue inspectors call a third party to verify your details.] Well there is a train full of people and they're not asking anyone else for anything now, is this fair? [Response: You need a validated Oyster/appropriate ticket to travel before boarding a train - you are liable to a penalty fare if not.] I had pay as you go on my oyster to cover the additional journey, I had tapped in, it's not my fault it didn't register at Hounslow, I thought it had. [Response: OK - In future you would need to ensure that the green light appears on the reader and that it beeps once.] The green light did appear! [Response: I can only assume that the inspector is then querying your invalid Oyster if it has a 'minus' balance?] There was another person on the train from Hounslow in the same situation and you're just making money out of it. It had a positive balance on it, but your machine at Hounslow is faulty. It had a positive balance, they did the same to another man in the same situation even though your machines are faulty.
Children in tears on Waterloo to Weymouth Train. They got off at New Milton and are trying to get back to Brockenhurst. Bad practice. At least some customers have helped them. [Response: Apologies for this, trains have a limited set down time, please can you advise the station so that I may assist with a return train.] [Second caller to first: I was sat just in front of you Trevor, absolutely ridiculous that the guard should not have seen or heard that. Appalling.]
There's a dead smelly bird at Clapham. It's been there 6 days. [Response: We can't gain access to remove the pigeon due to a faulty door, so we won't be able to remove this until about mid next week.]
Hello SWT, your Quiet Zones might work better if the signs inside were larger. People just don't take any notice. [Response: Due to the trains being on leasehold we are limited to notification space. Please make the guard aware who will assist.]
Cheers SWT. At least 50 people just missed a connection at Weybridge by 5 seconds, wouldn't hurt to hold it as you were late.. [Response: I completely understand, unfortunately our services run on strict set down and pick up times. Where are you heading to?] Not quite strict enough for it to leave 10 seconds early meaning we all miss it...?
How long after the ticket date can unused anytime tickets be refunded? [Response: Refund requests should be no later that 28 days after expiry, please see here for further information.] Thanks. So you don't have to claim before the planned journey? [Response: Reading the conditions on the link, it does seem a hit and miss grey area, with a £10 fee. Has it passed the expiry?]
I had a travelcard and used it to get the 15:33 train from Kingston to Vauxhall in order to get to Euston for a train at 16:24. The 15:33 was delayed by 7 minutes and went straight to Waterloo so my journey was late and extended. I missed a train and had to pay extra to get the next one due to one of your trains making me late, will you reimburse me? [Response: I believe we will yes. Can I ask where you bought the ticket from, and who advised you to buy a new one?] I bought the original ticket from the Virgin website. I bought a replacement ticket from Euston off a Virgin Trains' representative - he said it wasn't their fault and that I missed super off-peak. [Response: In which case you should contact Virgin Trains about this, who should be able to progress this.] Thanks! He said it was SWT's fault so I'll tell them you told me to go back to Virgin.
We got told that you have stopped Group Save for four. Why? Ripped off again. Aren't you meant to be encouraging people to use trains? [Response: The way Group Save works has been changed, not stopped.] Thanks to your changes we are all paying an extra £1 so not saving as much as we did before. Ticket office often shut, what then? [Response: You should be able to purchase on board if you can't do so at the station, but you should ideally try to buy before boarding.] Nice that you're more concerned about your profit than customer satisfaction. Always do try to find guard when machines don't work. [Response: We were more concerned with trying to help you avoid problems, as buying onboard can be more problematic than from a ticket office.] OK, so why remove Group Save from ticket machines then? The ticket office is not always open at Petersfield, even worse at Liss.
Platform 5 to Clapham Junction. Left 18.15ish. Lady behind me nearly crushed and she was clearly middle of queue!! Very unsafe. This has happened to me so many times. The dispatcher on platform 7/8 does it non-stop! [Response: We only have a couple of minutes between trains at Wimbledon so need to dispatch them as soon as possible, hence the hurry.] So passenger safety comes secondary to a slight delay? Blimey! [Response: Not at all, safety always comes first. We wanted to explain why there can be a hurry at Wimbledon at times.] Appreciate the challenge but common sense should prevail. Not safe at all.
Just seen staff blow whistle BEFORE passengers had finished alighting train at Wimbledon. Nobody had boarded yet!
PRICELESS SWT-SPEAK (September)
Any idea on when the information screen under the bridge on platform 1 at Ashford will be fixed? [Response: I'm afraid not at the moment. The boards are awaiting spare parts to become available.]
What's going on with all the not stopping at stations to regulate service today? [Response: This is due to a number of carriages currently undergoing maintenance and upgrades.] So why not announce that, not that it's cancelled, and give me the option of getting ahead of it and catching it? [Response: Because it was cancelled at your station.] But I could have caught another train, ie the 17:38, and caught it where it did stop. But it was announced cancelled, a lie. Same old excuses from an unaccountable monopoly.
Why, twice this week, have we been told the Reading train is cancelled only to see it go past us at Clapham? [Response: Due to the short formation of this service, the stops have been revised to reduce overcrowding during peak hours.] Why not 8 carriages instead of 4 as usual? Twice I've been late to pick up my daughter. Is this going to continue? [Response: I understand this can be frustrating, this is due to coaches undergoing maintenance and upgrade.]
Machine at Winnersh didn't accept my Scottish £20, so went to buy ticket at Waterloo, wasn't allowed to use 16-25 railcard?? What's the deal? [Response: Our machines aren't programmed to recognise Scottish £20 notes. Were you travelling from Waterloo?] Travelled from Winnersh to Waterloo, unfortunately ticket booth was too busy to wait after I kept trying machine. [Response: I see. Did you try to buy your ticket at Waterloo instead once you got there?] Bought ticket from guard with handheld thing, he said that machines don't accept Scottish notes. But wouldn't let me use railcard. [Response: You should buy before boarding. If you purchase onboard like you've done you can't use discounts such as railcards.] Or the machines should accept Scottish notes? Because of the inability to use it, I've spend an extra £10 on my journey today.
Maybe you'd like to announce platform alterations at Barnes or is it fun to watch everyone sprint like Mo Farah on the CCTV? [Response: We can't announce London Bound trains at this station, but this is something that is being reviewed.]
She is a student with limited funds and you cannot help. But are happy to take an additional £57 off her, shame on you SWT. To say you do not give retrospective refunds is a silly, when she showed card on her return journey a few hours later. Absolutely furious with customer relations. When my daughter makes an innocent mistake and has proof, you do not want to refund. [Response: Sorry you feel this way, I am sure Customer Relations have explored all avenues regarding the refund.] Can you please give me the details of the ombudsman, So that I can contact them? Thank you. [Response: You will find the contact information to The Passengers' Panel here.] [Comment: Beautifully fobbed off. The Panel doesn't deal with casework and has been inactive for a year.]
You told me a letter would be coming out - I still want to talk to someone so they can explain why this has taken 7 months to sort. [Response: I believe my colleague has advised you to contact Passengers Panel, they can look into this in more detail.] [Comment: Beautifully fobbed off again. The Panel doesn't deal with casework and has been inactive for a year.]
You said they would call today. I have tried 5 times to call that number and been on hold for 30 minutes each time.
Why has the oyster reader on the only ticket machine in Vauxhall, South Lambeth Road entrance, not been fixed after 2 weeks? [Response: Hi, engineers are awaiting the arrival of spare parts to fix the reader.] Why are spare parts for the thousands of ticket machines not held in a warehouse?
Second time in two weeks I reported water problems in toilets at Walton, emergency plumbers 1- hour call out are available, not 3 days!! [Response: Which platform, can I ask, and when did you report this?] Waterloo bound, reported Tuesday and last week different water issue - sink blocked probably Wednesday previous week. [Response: We're waiting for a plumber to attend both faults, but I'll pass your comments on to the station team.]
Phoned prosecution department 87 times in 2 days, but constant ansafone. E'mail address? Have summons and it's not me nor the description like me. [Response: We can't assist regarding prosecutions. You'll need to use the contact details they have provided.] Would be good if phones are actually answered, do you know where I could possibly find an e'mail address for them. [Response: No, they can't be contacted by e-mail, just the phone number they have provided you with.] Shocking!
[SWT announcement: The 16:55 Waterloo-Alton is formed of 4 coaches today, and will not call at Clapham Junction] The 4:55 Alton train that’s just stopped at Clapham you mean!? [Response: Er, yes. It apparently called after all, and is now running late as a result.]
[No CCTV at Wimbledon?] Great start to the day - train leaves my station before everyone is off, let alone everyone boards. Use your eyes next time. [Response: Sorry about this, which train was it?] Wimbledon to Waterloo, circa 9am. [Response: We have lots of trains at that time, so we won't be able to investigate without knowing which train I'm afraid.] Interesting, well, if your driver had made announcements, or a guard had walked along, I would be aware of the time. Thanks for your concern and first class customer service, as always.
Lost my gold card and went to station with ID and receipt. Told I must wait to be called for interview - up to 3 weeks! [Response: Yes I'm afraid this is procedure. Due to the value of the gold card, we have to ensure you are the ticket holder.] I recommend that you review your procedures. This is 2014. Two forms of photo ID and the original receipt should be enough!
Whimple. Your 11:24 to Exeter St David’s train nearly sliced me up. You said it was stopping. Why didn't it? I was at the edge and it flew past. /// How do I make a formal complaint about the conditions I was forced to travel in this evening? Who pays for my suit to be dry cleaned as a result of these terrible conditions? [Response: I'm afraid we can't do anything about that, sorry.] /// I'm looking for an improved service. It's shocking what we have to put up with for thousands of pounds a year. /// Taxi just stopped, quoting £100 to Portsmouth from Haslemere for one of your customers...this is farcical. /// Once again, my dealings with SWT have resulted in confusion, mis-communication and an overriding feeling they hate customers. /// I may as well give up. You're not really helping. Service provided by SWT is in major decline and unaffordable. Will learn to drive. /// If you're cutting a service, have the decency to put up a notice before I buy a ticket. /// I resent being treated as a criminal. You are a useless, incompetent, rude, inhuman, nasty and unreliable excuse for a train company. /// Are you serious? So you dismiss my accusation? Excuse me, can your CCTV hear what people can say? /// Was happy to read Network Rail were fined for poor performance. Now time to fine SWT for constantly ignoring their customer charter. /// Can you please tell me what's going on with the price here? Both done today, but £20 difference!!! /// Rather than insincere apologies, why not offer refunds to the customers whose days you ruin... /// First time on your service and will be my last. Ridiculous prices and awful service. Disgustingly overcrowded. Not good enough. /// Closing the doors on people getting on the train is brilliant - especially when they have a broken shoulder! /// Your apology on your website says all is back in order. Here you say there are delays. What is it? It seems you are lying. /// AGAIN remove trains from all the boards a minute before scheduled time though train hasn't left and doesn't for 5 further minutes. /// Can't tell how frustrated I am today.. You are stealing my time, my money, my life. Very very unfair. /// I am about to be late for an appointment that costs me £45 - no late entry and no refunds. Expect compensation. /// Appalling rail service today. Took 3 trains, replacement bus and still needed a 40quid taxi...I arrive, broke, an hour late. /// Just booked a taxi for £24 to get me from Byfleet to Staines. I'll be sending you the bill. /// I'm sorry but it's all excuses. You don't care about the smaller stations which can have lots of people waiting. Why should I have to suffer and get home over 1 hour later? It's stupid and I'm totally fed up with it. /// We know about franchising. Please see all the signatures on our petition to prove that: http://change.org/en-GB/petitions/secretary-of-state-for-transport-revoke-the-south-west-trains-franchise. Considering the awful service you constantly provide, have you considered giving back the franchise? /// Do you consider the Alliance a success? If not when are people going to be held responsible for poor contract management? /// Q & A by SWT proved they don't give a **** about their customers. Should have opened with an apology about the recent **** service.
Expecting a refund from you guys for my ticket. You have appalling customer service!! /// I shall be travelling without buying a ticket for the rest of the week due to rubbish service today. /// I'm letting you know that if your ticket inspector comes, there's no money on my oyster as your machine just stole it. /// Actually got a seat tonight... Better make sure I don't fall off it in shock. [Second tweeter: Dear sweet Jesus. You should have it named after you to celebrate this miracle.] For the price of the ticket perhaps I should take it with me when I get off!! /// Explain why at 08.00 lots of revenue staff, at 23.00 none. If no reply I am going to press and MP. /// Today I was quizzed as to whether I really got on at Surbiton (where I live) whilst heading up to London (where I work). It's just a bit tiresome, wish your conductors had Oyster readers as they could see I'd swiped in / out correctly at the barriers. /// Have you considered handing back the franchise? [Response: No, this would not be in the best interest of the business.] But it would be in the best interest of your passengers. So does this mean you don't care about your passengers? /// This is ridiculous! Where are your drivers???? Now stuck at Guildford for 30 minutes!! At over £60 a ticket it's just not good enough. No information given, and no consideration apart from profit! /// The huge dead bird on the front of the 1433 from Waterloo should have been disposed of, not simply dropped onto the track. /// 65 minute delay on SWT due to guard not showing at Salisbury, and not a cup of tea offered on board as some sort of apology. Shocking.
Please can you tell me why the garden behind the Clapham rail crash memorial is in such a state? /// If it comes down to legalities, I suspect your service is illegal under the sale of goods act. /// Atrocious service from SWT as per usual. Rip us off for season tickets and repay commuters with ineptitude. /// I would just appreciate honest and correct information and for communication to take place in a professional manner. I have boycotted your serve in favour of Southern Rail. /// Really do not like SWT. They are useless. /// Train from Reading to Waterloo overshoots platform at Vauxhall and can't open doors. Guard blames doors. /// Why is it every Friday you put on only a few carriages and everyone has to stand up!!! Easily worst train operator in the UK. /// Good to see that are being as incompetent as ever this morning. Are you ever able to run the services as advertised?
CUSTOMER SERVICES (July)
If I can't renew weekly ticket from a ticket office how will you help from your office? /// This complaint is now over 6 months on the go! Never had a response. Relates to hour plus delays on 20th and 23rd December. /// Complaint submitted and acknowledged on 26/4. Chased on 28/6. No proper reply yet - 2 months later. How to get reply? /// Your company is the biggest waste of time ever. I honestly can't believe the way I have been treated by your staff. Disgraceful. I've tried calling customer services after being on hold for 30 minutes. Being sworn at by your staff and given a penalty fare at Basingstoke on the 19th of June. I've been e’mailing customer services and IRCAS with no help at all. /// I'm holding on for Customer Services right now; no answer after 18 minutes!!! Can't I even TALK to someone?! /// Absolutely shocking service again! No point in complaining! I'm still awaiting a response from my last complaint! /// So it's just cancelled? I thought there were bus replacements? Booked online as part of a longer journey from Newark North Gate. Love SWT selling me a ticket for a service that doesn't exist and I'm now going to get home later than planned. /// How do you make a claim if you've been sold the wrong tickets?
CUSTOMER SERVICES (August)
I sent my original e’mail on the 6th July so that blows your 21 day reply rule out of the water. /// Asking the attendant at counter why they don't open another, the response was "It has been like this all week". Not very helpful! /// Expecting a refund from you guys for my ticket. You have appalling customer service!! /// I am so annoyed your make it so difficult to get an Oyster card refund. Your company is an utter disgrace. I would be ashamed. /// I'm calling your customer relations numbers but no one is picking up. I need to speak to/e’mail someone urgently. /// It's really no big problem for me, just another saga of foreign tourists being sent from pillar to post here in London. /// Any news regarding this? I completed online complaint form as you said, but heard nothing back. What next then, write a letter? /// I was only made aware that there would be an interview yesterday, why have I been misinformed on this since last Wednesday? /// I would like to make a complaint about the appalling handling of my refund and not being given the correct refund! /// Extremely disappointed to note your breach of customer charter regarding time frames for processing refunds - 21st century?!?
CUSTOMER SERVICES (September)
Just had another ******** response from a complaint letter. What's the point if you don't compensate and chose to ignore comments? /// Three phone queues, one station visit, four e'mails... one week later. Still no response. Communication is shameful and disgraceful. /// As said, I called customer relations -a thoroughly unpleasant and unproductive experience. I have now missed my trip. /// When it comes to lost property, your customer service is the worst I have ever experienced. That's the truth. I left a bag on a train, SWT customer services said nothing they could or would do. Apparently there is no phone number for the station? I was told that if they tried to help everyone, that's all they'd be doing each day... so they refused to help.
The guy announced 'sorry for the delay. We're leaving soon', so I stayed put. He later announced 'still waiting for engineer and don't know what's wrong'. At that point I switched trains. The next one was also delayed; don't know why! One hour late for my GP appointment. /// Nice to have an unexplained 10+ minutes delay without an apology yet again. /// We were told on the train it was at Winnersh. Have been terminated at Virginia Water. Got a taxi as had to do school pick-up. /// Just been an explosion on a train at Millbrook station. What happened? [Response: The train is continuing its journey.] I was on the train with my sons but we got off as they were scared. The conductor told us to get off and they didn't want to get back on. /// Getting tired of delays without information. What is going on? Already missed other trains home. /// Why was 11.11 from Earlsfield cancelled at 2 minutes’ notice? I've just missed a connecting train as a result! [Response: Sorry about this. The train called at Earlsfield, but our information systems showed it as cancelled in error. We're looking into it.] /// The 06.46 Weybridge to Waterloo was on your website as being delayed by 20 minutes.. It left 5 minutes late. /// Platform 2 at Putney: sign says platform 2 closed but still advertising trains. Which is it? /// But why are guards repeatedly staying silent? It's not just me, it's other people saying the same thing. It happens ALL THE TIME. /// When's the next train from Wimbledon to Norbiton? The trains are out of sync with the announcements. /// I’m wondering why the 8.25 from Ewell West has become a fast service? No explanation given on the train. /// More updates please. What is the issue and how long are the delays????? /// It has taken me 20 minutes longer to get home than it should have due to lack of information and I get an automated reply....great. /// Terrible lack of communication again from SWT- especially at Woking. This needs to be sorted out…. We were all ushered off train with no idea of delay time or other options, then 15 minutes later a train leaves for Guildford from Woking and there is no announcement. Everyone waiting outside misses it. Two other delays this week of up to 30 minutes and not a single apology or rough indication of time. We're just all sat like lemons. Still trying to get home. 18.58 at Woking announced for Portsmouth, went to Alton. /// It was from within the train. Told to go to platform 2, train pulled away before we even got near. /// A disgustingly poor service Waterloo to Portsmouth - passengers in utter confusion about train splitting. Sort it out! [Response: The train split in the opposite way to the way it usually does, didn't the Guard announce this?] /// The issue was the information given. Sent between platforms 3 times. Nobody knew when trains were coming and all the staff just hid away. /// I was in the chaos at Waterloo last night. Complete joke, little information. How do I get my extortionate fee back? /// The information board at Hedge End was saying otherwise at 5.30. Had to drive to Winchester instead.
What's going on with the Exeter-London train at Salisbury? Stuck 30 minutes with no explanation! /// I heard over a walkie talkie 'the driver’s finally showed up', please be honest and open with people. /// I was allowed (eventually) to get on the train. Then an announcement said if you had a £15 ticket you would have to buy another. [Response: Technically this is correct, however as you haven't done this intentionally you may be able to reason with the inspector. It seems the person you bought it from didn't advise you of the evening peak, sorry for this.] /// It's a bit late now as have missed my train due to wrong information. Am on the later train. /// You should make announcements when you cancel trains at Hampton Court or even apologise to your customers! /// Bored of the problems now, get to Waterloo for the 16.39; not stopping at my station but no idea why!!! Why can't you communicate? /// There were no signs to explain the closure. [Response: I suspect the staff have had to leave early, however I'm not sure why. Sorry for the problems this has caused you.] /// I'm none the wiser what part of the train to be on. No announcements during whole journey. /// No, not announced on the 8:07 from Ewell West. Many confused passengers attempting to change and finding no trains! With information could have stayed on my original train to Wimbledon and not been late for work. /// For the 1,000th time: Information. When you cut a train to 4 cars announce it so people aren't left running down platforms. /// It'd be great if you told people the train is stopping at a different platform... /// Lot of people on the wrong train for 18.20 Woking. Wrong platform on board means debacle looming..... /// So what exactly is going on? At Waterloo and no mention of issues save for delayed / cancelled arrivals.
Unbelievable, advised to change platforms at Waterloo due to a delay, then watch as the original train leaves first. /// More than 30 seconds' notice of a platform change at Barnes might actually give passengers time to get there. /// What's really ****** me off is that Hampton Court are STILL saying trains are 'On Time'. If they're cancelled - cancel them! /// Why did your ticket office in Haslemere lie about not being able to change my season ticket to another operator? [Response: Sorry, can you give me some more details about what happened?] Moved to Radlett so need new season ticket. Haslemere said they couldn't do it, and ask new station. They say easier to do at Haslemere! [Response: Sorry you've been sent from one to the other. I believe the process would be to get a refund at Haslemere, and then buy a new ticket at Radlett as our systems aren't connected. But you can get a refund of the Haslemere ticket by contacting Customer Relations.] /// What's tonight's total meltdown caused by? No information anywhere of course. /// It was only a member of public that stopped me boarding the wrong train after a member of staff told me to get on! /// Too much to ask for an announcement at Wimbledon as to why none of the north bound trains are stopping? /// Train on platform with fault, 10 minutes before announcement, next train arrives, everybody changes, then first train leaves. A simple announcement on the train and platform to say which train is leaving first can't be that difficult? /// 23 minutes late into Farncombe and no update on reason for delays. /// I've learnt my lesson. Makes platform information on website pointless though, if it cannot be trusted. [Response: I'm not sure what happened tonight, but last minute changes will not always be captured on websites / apps.] /// Your 17:50 train to Chessington labelled on the board as such till we get on the train and it's actually going to Woking. /// Twice this month I've got on the wrong train because the boards at Vauxhall have been wrong and there's not been an announcement. /// So why have we had no announcements all journey? I would like to know why we sat not moving for ages! /// Actually it is the 8.23 from platform 1, or the 8.21 according to the station announcement, so who knows what train it is?
Cancelled train. One minute prior to arrival time; NOT GOOD!!!!! /// Wonderful consistency showed by SWT today, train this morning and this evening delayed. /// I was delayed by at least 30 minutes this morning. It's a pathetic service. /// Shock: train late leaving Waterloo. That makes my last 5 journeys all delayed. Can't wait for the morning commute. /// It has chucked us all off at Leatherhead. Not that your guard bothered to tell anyone until after Epsom. /// Lost count the number of times I get kicked off at Ascot. Must be a way to share the impact? /// Train to Wokingham delayed more than 30 minutes. Now find out it is not going to stop a Wokingham. Now delayed even longer. Sigh. /// Getting fed up with the service on Guildford to Aldershot line. Running late a lot. Missing connections, no apologies. Awful. It's ongoing problems. It's missed the connection with Alton service over 20 times over last month. Lots of complaints, no answers! I've written to SWT customer services four times. No reply. It's a shambles. /// Your solution to a delayed train is to then miss out half the stops and make us wait for yet another train!? /// My trains were cancelled or delayed 3 days in a row last week and I had to use taxi and pay for that to get home. /// The 07:08 from Surbiton to London is only 8 coaches today due to a fault. And you cancel the train before. Clever. /// Why did the delayed 7.13 not stop at Whitchurch? Loads of people here waiting to catch that train. /// Not good enough - told to get off train and no information, no messages to customers. Shoddy, and now going to have to get a taxi. /// Was a second away from getting on the train. No one has apologised or even acknowledged me. I couldn’t physically get on so I've missed the train and a long wait for another. The staff didn't seem to care whatsoever. /// Would love to know why so many trains between Reading and Ascot end up running late. Seems almost like a daily occurrence. /// After £30 for a cab to Woking I made it to Waterloo 2 hours late. Now my train is stuck at Guildford until further notice. Even worse than normal. /// Signal failure again in Haslemere at the end of the day! Do I get a double refund? (serious question). And a “Sorry” would be nice. /// If I take next one I won’t arrive on time for my appointment. What a s*** service. Four days in a row! /// 48 cancellations today so far...any information on this? Asked earlier but no response received. /// 0/10 for service today. The only consistent thing you do is cancel trains in both directions! /// Why is the 17:35 from Hampton Wick not calling at Wimbledon? /// Half an hour late and terminated at the wrong station, are you proud of your customer service? /// 7.16 from Branksome to Dorchester. Has now gone back to Bournemouth as no relief crew at Poole. Still waiting at Bournemouth. Still no crew. /// How about the last delay which was Monday. And the one before, which was Friday? Really poor service the past few weeks. /// Sorry just isn’t acceptable. This is the third time in just over 24 hours. I want a full refund for my travelcard for the week. /// Just missed the 0929 from Kingston as it pulled out at 0927. What is going on this week??????????? /// Trains still ending at Woking. 20 minute delays. Every day this week there has been a problem. /// Just the 3 hours to get from Clapham Junction to Walton-on-Thames via ASH VALE! Took a taxi in the end, can I get a refund? /// Delays through Staines and the only one that has turned up in 40 minutes was a short train. Now no chance of making the show. /// 8 journeys this week. All 8 delayed for various reasons. Well done for meetings expectations again. /// What a palaver on SWT as we give up and drive! Had to drive to pick up my son from Guildford as that's as far as he could get. /// Amazing. Even on the Lords day you manage to delay your flock. That's everyday this week right? /// Issues Friday and Sunday.. Thanks for making my weekend journeys miserable. /// Still nowhere near Southampton and the test match starts in 1 minute! Are you refunding cost of tickets wasted? Thanks. /// Plans ruined yet again thanks to SWT. Just wondering when their service will equal their extortionate prices. /// It's already gone! My train was late by 10 minutes and I got to the train door running as it closed and left. /// It runs fast to Basingstoke and the 23-past was crammed because of all the people. Feels like someone wanted to hit performance numbers. /// Thanks - the cardinal sin was running fast from Kingston to Waterloo with the next one cancelled and the one after 4 cars only. AND STILL NO EXPLANATIONS OR APOLOGIES. /// What is the story with the 18.12 to Basingstoke from Waterloo tonight? Why fast to Basingstoke. /// SWT have excelled themselves today. After cancelling my AM train I sprint for the train home, and the train leaves 30 seconds EARLY [Response: The doors close 30 seconds prior to departure, the train can leave any time after then.] /// OK, but for the sake of 30+ people could the Guildford train not have waited 1 minute? /// 18:04 cancelled, next service half length. Another pathetic New Malden - Teddington service from you. /// I'm going berserk! SWT managed to screw up two days in a row. As if overtime at work yesterday and today wasn't enough. /// Two days in a row you've turfed me off a train. Please let's hope it's not a hat trick tomorrow. /// We will travel like sardines in the can. Jokers! Only 4 coaches during peak time! £12 isn't enough for a 20-minute trip?
Three trains in a row cancelled for me. My train last night, this morning and tonight... Windsor and Eton line. Not happy..? /// Thanks SWT for deciding to skip 4 stations mid- journey and go straight to Waterloo. Not the best commute home on a Friday! /// 22:28 to Windsor cancelled. This joke has got to stop. It's about the 5th cancelled train in as many days. /// Why did the 18:00 from Winchester to Southampton leave 4 minutes early? /// Just removed Hounslow from the stops of my delayed 1814 to London Waterloo. Thanks. /// Thanks for cancelling the 20:53 Salisbury to Exeter. /// Why is it that the threshold is an hour? Ever turned up to an interview an hour late?? It goes down well.. 5 minutes late is wrong. /// Why is the Windsor train terminating at Staines?? Is it because you pay compensation if it arrives late? What a joke.... /// Highly unimpressed that I got to Raynes Park to get the 12:34, walked up to the platform at 12:32 to see the train pulling away. /// Typical. SWT late in Guildford. Missed my connection. Missed it by less than a minute - why didn't it wait?! Should have driven. /// So yet another SWT fail! Are you going up refund my taxi ride home now that trains aren't calling at Chiswick? /// 12:19 didn't stop at Shawford, did the driver miss the station? [Response: Hi, I'm afraid the driver forgot to call at this station.] /// Why has the 7.24am Reading-Waterloo not stopped at Clapham Junction for past two days? Response: The train has been shorter than usual, and with fewer doors it takes longer for people to get on/off, causing delays.] ///Thank you SWT for cancelling the 10:40 Walton to Waterloo train at errr 10:40!!! Could have told me ages ago when you actually knew! /// Do you think this is acceptable? More than £30 for a service that not everyone can get on. /// Hmm, the 06.40 Hampton Court train is stuck part way into the station at Vauxhall. Very odd indeed. [Response: If you're interested, this happened because the brakes kicked in unexpectedly.] /// Yesterday and today, Waterloo-Windsor, only 4 carriages, not stopping at Ashford. So I ask again, why are you so useless? /// Okay so my SWT train this morning has just announced it's not stopping at my stop?! What the **** SWT. You can't just do that?! /// Another wasted evening. Can you resolve issues you have around connecting trains, seems to be whatever way the wind is blowing as to whether they're held. /// Why does your timetable say departure is 18:37, not 18:36? [Response: I have investigated the 18:37 departure and can confirm this departed early. I sincerely apologise for this.] Apologise to the pregnant lady left to wait at Weybridge for 30 minutes for the next one. Outrageous. /// At Havant - I know what's happening, no driver at Waterloo and no driver at Guildford and now no lift for me at destination! /// Why skip Mortlake?? [Response: This is to ensure that trains are not further delayed. Are you on the move?] /// It was already 40 minutes late so an extra 2-minute to stop wouldn't have made much difference!
Please tell me the 17:53 to Basingstoke not stopping at Surbiton today was a one off? /// Finally got on SWT train 40 minutes later. Lodged between 4 men barely able to breathe. I want to know when services will improve?!!! /// Travel chaos at Waterloo. Everyone clueless, announcements useless, utter mess. /// There are 200+ people moving from platform to platform at Woking to board trains that are already full...when is the next train (that won't be dangerously overcrowded) from Woking to Waterloo? /// Paid £40 for a ticket on the 14.20 to Exeter, stood in the aisle on the 14.05 to Portsmouth sweating. /// When there are only 2 trains an hour to London from Berrylands, cancelling a train has a big impact on passengers. The following train is no good for me. If you can cancel a service why can't a semi-fast service make extra stops at Berrylands? [Response: We would look into that if more than one train was affected, but not in this case as it was just the one train I'm afraid.] /// 16.16 leaving Brookwood for Waterloo. Rail guard putting up his hand with door closing in my face! /// One bicycle contravenes policy and delays 400 people. Missed slot all down the line. Idiots. /// Is there anyway of claiming a refund? 22:45 Waterloo to Portsmouth last night. Doors wouldn't open and huge delays. /// By cancelling the 18:15 to Portsmouth & Southsea you do realise that customers for Rowlands Castle won't now get home until 20:30? /// Congregating at Eastleigh station with other peeved passengers. No signs of obvious control from SWT. Shambolic. /// You run late and then punish everyone who got on youlate train by not stopping at their stations? Thanks for total inconvenience. /// The amount of money I spend on your trains, one minute before it leaves won't open door. /// Yet another short formation which is leading to overcrowding but please do continue to increase the price I pay for this ****. /// Can you explain why I've had to watch 4 trains go by without being able to board a train at Wimbledon? /// I don't mind the odd incident delaying trains, but consistent lateness is stupid. /// I think it's a disgrace that you decide mid journey on a late running service to change it to a fast train, just to avoid fines! Treated like a 2nd class passenger. /// Another day, another 30 minutes stuck on board a SWT train because the doors are broken. Beautiful. Not like I need to work or anything.
Common sense might help you realise that when you have credit and you make the journey everyday, you're not going to fare dodge. However, I should still be fined because my Oyster wasn't working properly. When it beeped I thought it had tapped. You're required to have on-time trains and enough seats, you don't. Awful customer service, especially when the guard treated me like a criminal when my card had a fault on a £1.80 fare. There should at least be an investigation, again consistent failure to serve loyal customers fairly. [Second caller: They seriously don't care, just out to get money and more money and more money. Complete *******.] /// I’m having to pay £7 more for my ticket as no train from Thames Ditton. Ticket man at Esher said "Well, you chose to travel" OUTRAGEOUS! /// They didn’t clarify, they just fined instead. This is the problem I have. Your customer service consists of fining. /// Bought flyaway return Guildford - Gatwick. Handed in wrong half at Gatwick. Any way to resolve this? Have credit card receipt too. [Response: I'm sorry but it's not usually possible to print duplicates.] /// How come your customer service number is still an 0845 one despite this being outlawed last month? /// Policy not to assist when people ask for refund form? You're not inundated but have twice ignored my request. /// It's not just me, it’s the amount of people you've trapped into paying fines across your networks. You purposefully have no literature anyway in the station for customers to check - and then lie about it.
Is this how you boost your profits forcing your customers to pay taxi fares whilst you steal their cash? /// Ticket office - "back in 5 minutes", queues for ticket machine, no conductor on the train, try to buy a ticket at Waterloo. Penalty fare notice. The woman had her fine wallet out before I had explained. So rude. Genuine customer trying to pay!! I travel to London frequently. The women was very rude, was not prepared to listen. Wrote the ticket out three times, due to her spelling. Treated like a thief, never not paid! Four people not fined; well I waited 15 minutes for the paper work. Late for my meeting. /// Arrived late for the train, machine busy when train rolled in. Tried to buy a ticket on the train but conductor's card reader not working. Attempt to buy at station as advised and get fine!
7:26 from Millbrook to Eastleigh........no working ticket machine at Millbrook station. Only a 2-coach train. Guard had plenty of time to check tickets between every station if he needed to. Catching 100 or so people on a penalty fare for £20 is better than what they should have paid at £4.50 isn't it? Disgusting. /// It seems my £30.20 ticket ended up costing £123.45 according to my bank. Please investigate and refund. /// I'm deeply disappointed with your lost and stolen policy.... I feel like I've had £70 stolen by SWT. [Response: I completely understand, I have been thinking of ways to prevent this going forward. Can you advise of your home station?] I have spoken to Hersham station and they can't find it. I do have proof of buying 2 weekly passes... Can you help me? [Response: Unfortunately this does not cover your weekly pass and a new one would have to be purchased in this circumstance.] /// I was on one of your trains at 6.30am today with an anytime ticket, the guard told me it wasn't valid for that time in the day. /// I have recently got an Oyster and never been to Esher before, and the prior stop, Surbiton, DOES. I'm not paying £20.[Response: Esher is not part of the London travel card zones, and therefore Oyster is not valid.] Yes, but if I didn't know that why should I be fined. Nowhere is that clearly marked before I reached the stop. [Response: It is your responsibility to ensure you have a valid ticket for your journey. There are travel card maps at all stations.] it is your responsibility to feel customers are fairly treated and when an honest mistake is made it is recognised. /// Machine at Alton broken this morning, guard who sold ticket wouldn't apply railcard discount. Please could you explain why?
REPLACEMENT BUSES AND TAXIS (July)
[Response to tweet: Because of exceptional demand we cannot source any replacement transport at the moment. Our teams are still investigating.] What exceptional demand? It’s the same train timetable as it was last weekend and the weekend before. [Response: All buses are being used for Silverstone and we have no buses available at this time.] /// Replacement bus from Martins Heron left ahead of schedule so sat here for another 30 minutes. /// 90 minutes to get from Chiswick to Wandsworth Town! /// If you write on your website that buses are accepting tickets please can you actually make sure they know that! /// We were told to come to Weybridge to get a replacement bus to Basingstoke. Now stranded at Weybridge with no bus. /// Advised by SWT to go to Guildford for a replacement bus. Get there and told. "No buses here, don't know why they told you that"!
REPLACEMENT BUSES AND TAXIS (August)
Over a hundred people here at Brockenhurst now. I’ve got 2- and 4- year olds and been here since 5pm. Now 8pm. Not seen one bus. /// Really poor show SWT. No communication, driver told us to change platforms for a bus service and taxis and that was an hour ago! /// Are you there? Lots of us waiting outside Staines station for taxis that haven't shown... /// Awful service. Terminated at Teddington. No replacement buses, no staff at all, so either 2-hour wait for a taxi or 7 mile walk. /// Well I suggest this is sorted, catching a 5-hour bus from Exeter to London is not my idea of a good 'South West Summer.' /// Inconvenienced? Well thanks, I'm sure for the 6th week running my employer will be thankful that you're sorry. Not once since the bus replacement service has started have I ever seen a bus and no one knows which stop they use. /// 22.43 replacement bus from Surbiton to Cobham hasn't turned up. Why? /// Why do you use dangerous replacement buses that leak exhaust fumes into bus?
REPLACEMENT BUSES AND TAXIS (September)
Why are you displaying replacement bus times from Kingston when the bus doesn't turn up? [Response: There have been some errors made by our operators - have you managed to make your journey now?] Have made my journey but it was the same last week. It said there was a bus at half past six in the morning and nothing turned up. [Response: Our operators are aware and we are working to make sure this does not keep happening every week. Very sorry.] /// So not only do you put on a crappy bus replacement service, extend my journey by an hour but now my connection is delayed. /// SWT is in for a taxi which came to £31 back to Kingston. Why did the bus never arrive like it said he would do on the train??? [Response: I am sorry for this, I will investigate this situation. We usually arrange a taxi in this circumstance if contacted.] One of the other passengers rang the phone which was on the platform and was told it was on its way.. We waited 30 minutes. /// What are you going to do in order to ensure that I don't miss my ferry? If I do, it's not my fault, after all. [Response: We do not run the ferry service, if you require details about refund and compensation please contact customer services.] I honestly can't believe it's a human tweeting from that account. [Response: Sorry you feel this way, we have announced this so passengers can plan their journeys in advance.] /// You need to sort this out now, we're stranded in Farnham, do you understand the seriousness of this? [Response: It was planned to terminate at Farnham to not delay the start of the engineering works.] Why did it say Alton on the train and on all the boards at the stations coming home then? There's 10 of us, your organisation's a disgrace. .... WE sorted the cabs and your guard sorted for it to be paid. Your responses are a disgrace. /// Unbelievable and rude behaviour from the member of staff on the West Byfleet to Woking replacement bus! Shouted at me!! /// What's happening in Datchet? Why don't you have any staff on hand to give information? [Response: Datchet is staffed at the ticket office, am I able to assist?] The office is closed and there is no one around. It would be helpful to have signs which direct passengers to the bus stop. /// There were no notices at Bitterne station for the benefit of passengers without Twitter! /// Twickenham Station about half an hour a go, the driver had no idea where he was going [Response: We're aware of this errant bus, and will look into what happened. Sorry for the extended tour of Twickenham today.] /// Absolutely furious with the "service" today. Replacement bus failed leaving me, my child and friends waiting 1hr for the next train. /// I've been here since 9:05 and no buses going towards Bournemouth have stopped in the car park /// I always love it when a replacement bus service doesn't even bother to show up. [Response: I'm aware of one bus getting lost earlier, which bus are you referring to please?]
You’re only as strong as your weakest link, SWT; seeing massive variations in staff. /// 11 staff members to check tickets at Hersham? That's a little excessive don't you think? Half are sitting having a chatter. /// Something should be done re his attitude and customer service! He was so rude! Not even an apology for inconvenience! /// I walked through the train, front to back, back to front, as train moving. No guard. Others say same. [Second caller: He'll be in the driver’s cab at the back, inaccessible to passengers. Happens frequently.] /// Poor customer service at Winchester today. Ticket sales platform 1 is rude and unhelpful. Best described as a Jobsworth. He refused to sell off-peak tickets because barriers open. Never happened before. 10 people waiting. His attitude was main problem. /// Shocked at the way one of your employees spoke to me this morning. /// Winchester station ticket office locked. But he warned me next time I'd be fined. What is going on?? /// Customer Assistants at Wimbledon are useless. They spend their time chatting to each other or on their mobiles. Easy £.And they are VERY rude when you ask for their help. Most of them! /// 19:20 at New Malden, Kingston-bound. People trying to get off at many doors and guard just keep closing doors on them all. Very strange?? /// I do not appreciate being called terrible things, taunted and then him pointing his finger at his head like I'm mental! /// Please retrain your staff to stop the bullying. My 15 year old was threatened by female at Southampton Central [name provided]'s behaviour has been escalated to head office and we are publishing an article soon about other incidents online. It was escalated to the CEO. We believe the issue is being dealt with, we have other incidents about SWT. /// Guard at Staines shut the doors on me one minute before the train due to depart. Had two kids with me and buggy - he saw us. /// Petersfield staff being rude for no reason! Was making a ticket enquiry for myself and was spoken to in a rather sharp, unnecessary tone for no reason. I was probably distracting the staff member from playing what he was on the computer. /// Over 10 people waiting for tickets, and staff just watched and didn't help, despite having handheld ticket machines. Lots missed the trains. /// Broken ticket machines and unhelpful staff at Farnborough means missed train. Can't get to Clapham Junction to meet connections without two more changes. /// I've left now as wasn't getting anywhere. [Remarkably smug response: It sounds like our staff may need training. If you go back to the ticket office tomorrow, or at another station they should be able to help.] /// Will someone at SWT tell the bloody dispatch on platform 8 you CANNOT dispatch a train while people still alighting, then pull a face. I wouldn’t mind so much if the staff weren't so rude but it's really put me in a bad mood! Just trying to get to work on time! /// Why don't the SMT staff at Wimbledon help people with heavy luggage on stairs instead of standing there texting. /// Your platform 5 staff at Waterloo need some manners, worst customer service ever!! /// I will be making a formal complaint and I think certain employees of yours need some training in customer service/basic kindness. /// Ticket lady at Eastleigh is unprofessional. Asked her for help with my ticket, and she spoke to me in a disgusting manner. Not impressed. /// It would be nice if you could get some ticket staff at Waterloo who could just pretend that they even care. /// The staff on duty are chatting to the seated staff. We've decided to sit on the floor. They have checked our tickets. /// Idiot at Winchester ticket office cannot deal with a simple request. Need to go back and waste more of my lunchtime. /// Even if it is hot and busy, I’d appreciate it if your customer services agents learnt some manners at the ticket office in Waterloo. /// Why has the station guard at Petersfield been on his lunch for 3 hours? I need to speak to a human and I can't call 0845 numbers. Why is it closed? The doors keep trying to open. Loads of people waiting outside! /// He just shrugged and told us to take a bus or car. No sorry and no indication of where a bus might be. Didn't want to help. /// You seriously need to look at the lack of help your customers are getting at Basingstoke. Nobody at all!! /// Wait half an hour for a train at Surbiton, turns up on the wrong platform, no announcement, guy on duty rude. /// SWT’s obnoxious station staff spat 6" from my feet onto the station floor without any consequence. /// Staff at Richmond: rude and will have a go at you if you dare to ask why you've been charged for a journey you didn't make. // Ask a polite question and get a sarcastic, you've-made-me-feel-stupid response from train guard. Cheers. /// 18:05 from Teddington. Despite being told she was a visitor, hence travelcard and no ID, he was getting off on bullying a minor. She is on a short visit from Liverpool. He repeatedly asked for ID and wouldn't listen to her answers, despite having a correct ticket. He repeatedly questioned her age, humiliated her in front of the cabin and bullied her. Only stopped when a passenger intervened. Carried on for 5 minutes. I look forward to hearing of his disciplinary hearing. /// Just encountered a very, very rude lady with a serious attitude problem at the Kingston station ticket office just now!!!! /// Why was SWT helpline not interested when I called to report SWT ticket inspectors threatening to attack a customer? /// Two of your staff members at Waterloo need to learn basic manners. Another needs to learn to talk. Terrible customer service.
Nice to see the staff at Aldershot do nothing about announcing platform changes!!!! All passengers missed connection. /// Note to unhelpful guard at Winchester. Perhaps 2 minutes before train departure is a bad time to reset the gates? I have a bike and he decided to reset the only gate I could use. Not friendly and no explanation. Almost missed my train! /// Are your staff trained in customer service? I was shouted down by 'Amy' on platform 11 Clapham Junction for trying to open a door that was broken? Shouted at me across the platform for using a door that was not opening. Hold my hands up, I didn't hear the announcement about door as I had headphones in. But she was nothing less than vicious in her manner and aggressive. /// There are far too many incidences of rude SWT staff. /// I think most employees bad mouth customers when they're in a bad mood but maybe don't do it in front of other customers... /// Guard on the train that just left Woking for Waterloo opens the door to check things, but refuses to let anyone on. He could at least have been polite about it. /// Rude and unnecessary treatment of a passenger on SWT, absolutely disgusted. How bloody dare guard [guard’s name] on board your train. /// Station information at Woking wrong so unable to board 6.54.train. Guard was on the train but he ignored the station staff telling him not to leave. No whistle, passengers still trying to open doors. /// Shocking customer service display on the 6.26 to Waterloo this morning! Hope the lad evicted from the train is not now jobless! Over zealous guard not giving a young lad time to get money transferred to his account to buy ticket. /// I literally watched the guard (or whoever has whistle) look down platform and blow whistle even though not everybody has boarded! /// Can you tell me why the guards only allow 15 seconds for people to alight and board trains at Vauxhall? /// Shocked at how I was just treated by a SWT staff member, accused of being lazy by showing my ticket which didn't work to get past barrier. /// Why do your guards feel that they have the right to touch passengers? Wouldn't be tolerated if it was the other way! Don't have any right to handle or shake someone because they are asleep. Don't pay Â£4088 a year for that. /// Idiot at Winchester ticket office cannot deal with a simple request. Need to go back and waste more of my lunchtime. I had a ticket from Southampton to Brighton which I needed to change to Victoria to Brighton. Why is that so hard? Disappointed gold card user. /// Getting 10-month son and 2 cases onto SWT train - the guard looked at me and whistled for doors to shut before I finished, trapping my arm! /// So now we have a terrible service, and we're spoken to like pieces of crap too. What are you lot actually playing at? I'll send a letter to customer relations. I've reported terrible staff before and been told to write, so that's what I'll do. /// How do I make a complaint about a ridiculously rude member of staff at one your stations? /// So disgusted with how rude your ground team are at Clapham Junction. I've never, ever witnessed such aggressive behaviour. Wanted to buy a discount ticket for SWT, £15, but South Acton do not have a ticket desk. We used Oyster to Clapham Junction. We got out at the platform 1 end but there is no ticket desk this end of Clapham Junction, so the man let us in to go to the far side where there is a desk. [Named staff member], the lady at the gate, refused to listen to us. She shouted at us and told us we should pre-purchase. She was very hot-headed and I personally feel someone like that should not be client facing. /// Your staff dealing with the train to Shepperton on platform 4 at Waterloo are very rude!! A simple yes or no would suffice! /// Customer Service Assistant at Southampton Airport Parkway was very rude! Basically threw my tickets at me. No hello and no goodbye... /// How should I complain? A really rude conductor yesterday, 16.22 from Clapham Junction to Guildford. /// Disgusting attitude from platform manager at Twickenham station, stair lift broken and disabled lady told to go back to Richmond and get a taxi! The stairlift has been there for a while and regularly broken; platform manager denied this and began arguing with customers. /// Your ticket man on the Winnersh to Waterloo train was so rude! Didn't even say sorry! /// An extremely rude guard smacked me across the head 3 times checking tickets. /// An encounter with a very unhelpful ticket seller. I remember now why I avoid trains. /// The rudest man works behind the ticket desk in Winchester. That's twice now. /// SWT staff AGAIN as helpful as a parachute with holes at Staines, confirming you have to be an utter Jobsworth to work for them. /// I am absolutely disgusted how I have just been treated on your 17:22 service to London Waterloo. I am a paying customer! /// Problem not the trike but non-working train door. No excuse for abuse anyway - and in 1st class! Hope for a less nasty man on way back. /// When I explained problem to other SWT member I asked whether he would be happy for ticketless son to travel on imminent train....."No". No offer of help, other than to see ticket staff - and wouldn't have reached front of queue before train. Was surprised by overwhelming apathy of two members of staff. /// Knowing how pathetic the staff are at that station I am not surprised I have not got a response.
My day return with Underground ticket would not work in any of the machines at Waterloo or tube stations. Staff at Waterloo rude. /// Terrible service from the staff at SWT this morning at London's Waterloo station. Made no effort to help us out at all. Not good. /// 15.20 Overton-London. Age-related comment from guard yet again. Travelling with you is such a memorably unpleasant experience. /// Such a sour way to end the day but I really urge you guys using SWT to be careful. I really hope you don't experience what I did today. [Response: You can raise a formal complaint via Customer Relations. Can I ask which train this happened on?] I have the said staff's name and it was the train from Staines to Waterloo. I'm afraid the link you gave me is not helpful. /// More terrible service received from the SWT staff at Bournemouth. Was nice of them to lay on taxis for everyone apart from me! Spoke to the manager and apparently as I'm going to Parkstone and not Poole I can't use the taxis and I have to wait... Great. The manager was blunt, rude and extremely unhelpful. Not what I was expecting! I'm just glad to be on my way again. The way this situation has been handled is absolutely appalling! /// On the day of the Bike Events Team London to Windsor, your driver on the 9:01 from Windsor is refusing to take extra bikes. The guard was 5 doors away shouting at cyclists not to get on and was refusing to open the doors saying he would call the police. I'm on that train. It's 8 carriages and is at best 30% full. [Response: I have been advised the guard prevented boarding the coach not the train. Due to overcrowding in the coach causing a safety issue.] This was at Datchet, one stop in, and at that point the train was empty. He could have told them to move to the front, not threaten. /// Unfortunately he wanted to throw us off the train, threatened it wouldn't move and stopped people with bikes getting on at Datchet. [Response: Sorry for the experience you had today. We've received a number of comments about this, and it will be looked at in further detail.] Thank you, it was very unpleasant and totally unnecessary. A solution could have been worked out I am sure. /// Your staff at Guildford disgusting too. /// Stopped for 10 minutes to let a fast service through. No reason given. Followed by sarcastic announcement by guard mocking customers. /// SWT need to educate station staff how to explain things properly. So mad right now; late to work and paid extra for travel! Just spoke to Customer Services. It's easier to get a mortgage out than it is to get a valid refund on a ticket. /// Please send the driver of 21.30 to Portsmouth on refresher to learn how to stop at scheduled stations.../// Driver being tetchy with passengers that doors won't close. Previous trains cancelled and people need to get to work. /// When I got to Southampton Central the lady on the gates to let us out had a go at me because I had no ticket .. Not my fault. /// Wanted to quickly buy a ticket before she emptied the machine because I knew I'd have to wait ages for your stupid slow card machines. I did get a ticket, but not without her moaning about it to me. /// I just don't appreciate being spoken to in that way. /// Clapham Junction at 11.35. She was chatting and ignoring me. I said 'excuse me, could you help me please in such a rush'. She shouted and closed blind. I was stood there for a while before I asked for help too, and she didn't even acknowledge me. That's basic politeness. /// Just because the staff at Richmond doesn't know about the NFC trial doesn't give him the right to snatch my Barclaycard. He didn't believe my Barclaycard works as an Oyster and snatched it out of my hand /// Trying to get to St Margaret's from Clapham Junction. Asked at 'info' desk and guard didn't know where it was on map nor how to get there. /// Passive aggressive train conductor, intimidating passengers on SWT. /// Ewell West, 09.20. Your guard had the audacity to laugh as she manually shut the door on me. Your service has reached a new low. /// Think you need to give your revenue officers some training in basic manners and glad to see our fare rises are being used to fund these guys who won't lift a finger to help and are rude too. /// Hobby bobby forcing college kids down the train and saying NO STANDING ALLOWED, since when? [Response: This doesn't sound right. Which train was this and was this one of our staff?] Christchurch to Brockenhurst, community transport police I think. Herding kids down the carriage even though only a couple of stations. [Response: Which train from Christchurch is this? Are they Rail Community Officers, or Police Communtity Support Officers? ] I couldn't be 100% sure. They got off at Brockenhurst. [Response: Hi, that train this AM gets crowded in the front 5 coaches, while the rear 5 remain empty, so we ask people to move back.] You don't ask, you tell. It's like herding cattle. To enforce this from New Milton and Sway is ridiculous. [Response: There have been issues where people have been unable to get on, which is why the team along with the BTP were on board.] /// Isn't saying "due to someone commuting suicide" a bit distressing to passengers? What's wrong with "hit by a train"? /// Apparently four SWT revenue officers are required at Brookwood to issue a ticket to a teenage college student. /// Staff at Southampton station have been very rude while doing the fire evacuation!! /// I explained to the revenue man that I had just run for the train. Nope, apparently that's not an 'exceptional circumstance' and he was trying to tell me I have an outstanding fine from 3 years ago. Funny that I haven't heard from you in 3 years isn't it? /// No point running trains if you don't allow enough time for ready passengers to board. Inattentive guard at Poole station.
Bikes in Farnborough station bike compound: 5. Spaces: 90. Why are SWT refusing to issue any more swipe cards? Demand is there for more cards. /// Kingston. Why are the toilets always closed for cleaning? /// It took one of your own train staff to finally tell the station staff to open barriers. 35 minutes to get out. Absolute joke. /// Never seen such a filthy station. More than a dozen mice crawling all over platform 15 this evening. Rats can't be far! /// The station approach has no lights and there were incidents of men attacking women/girls in the past. /// The timber platform is becoming very uneven (trip hazard), and steps have been crumbling and patched up with tarmac!
You've no staff at Weymouth. A busy station. On a Saturday. Lot of annoyed people here. Can you not afford to employ someone? /// Can you give me details of who to contact about the platform chaos at Surbiton, re 1535 to Guildford? Trains leaving early, platform changes without announcements, broken systems and station managers who don't know what's going on. /// Passengers Charter maximum queuing time is 3 minutes off peak, yet last Sunday it was 12 minutes. Will the queuing times at Waterloo ticket office be within Charter commitments in future, or is there an exemption for Waterloo? /// In line for your usual disregard for your customers the toilets are all locked at Staines and no staff anywhere. /// 2nd day in row, ticket office queue at Waterloo going out into middle of concourse, no sign of call-on system being fixed after 7 weeks. /// A suggestion. Forty queuing for immediate travel, two at advanced travel. Authorise advanced travel to issue railcards?? /// Why no extra trains at Ascot for the air race? You've got thousands of yellow line fascists, but no extra services. [Response: Much of our stock is maintained on the weekends and isn't available for extra duties on Sundays. Sorry for this.] For an event with 25,000 at it? Staff letting too many people on to the platform then bellowing at us when no room because of crush. /// Can you send a litter team to Bournemouth, it's a right old mess. /// You only have one ticket machine at Datchet and the queue is enormous. Can I buy a ticket on the train? [Response: You would need to buy a ticket before you board the train, ticketless travel means you could be liable to a penalty fare.] /// Ticket office closed and machine out of service at Byfleet and New Haw!! Sort it out!! /// So what's the plan to finish Fleet station? It's a tip and the traffic system is still appalling. Workers just standing around?! /// It would be useful if SWT unlocked the front doors to Richmond station before the first train leaves! /// Nightmare at Waterloo again, no destination boards working. Happy Bank Holiday and good luck getting home. /// Missed two trains to Gatwick waiting in epic ticket queues at Clapham. Only 1 ticket desk open for 20+ people. /// When will the screens be fixed at Putney station?! They've been broken for weeks! /// How do I complain about crowd management at Twickenham this morning?? /// Congrats on a major **** at Earlsfield station. Gates on platform 1 need to be open if trains are leaving from that platform! /// Broken oyster card reader at Worcester Park as you exit Guildford bound services causing long queues to exit the station in peak.
Any chance you can spend some money on the plumbing at Eastleigh? Toilets flooded again, also no sign again. /// Please could you correct significant difference between concourse clock and platform clocks at Clapham Junction station? It's absurd. /// If power cut at Chessington North continues past daylight hours, please arrange emergency lighting as stairs very dangerous last time. /// Only one ticket booth open despite big queue behind me at Guildford station. [Response: I believe there's a staff shortage at Guildford, you can use a ticket machine alternatively.] /// 14:20 from London. If you guys need a good translation company to aid clearer communications with your passengers, I know a great one. /// Why aren't there toilets at Teddington? It's a significant interchange for suburban services, which don't have them! [Response: It is unmanned after 20:25 and we can't leave the toilets open in this scenario I'm afraid] /// Just saying that ladies' toilets at Basingstoke platform 2 feel unloved, not least as one cubicle door is unclosable (and no hot water today!).
TICKET MACHINES (July)
Ticket machine at Byfleet and new haw is refusing to print tickets. [Response: Sorry about this. The machine has run out of cards to print tickets, please speak to the guard when you get onboard to buy a ticket. /// Ticket machine out of service at Sunbury. How is one meant to travel? /// Some of your staff let down the other nice proportion. £20 penalty for having the means to pay but your card machine not working?!
TICKET MACHINES (August)
For what unacceptable reason have you not returned my change, SWT? /// The automated ticket machine has only given me a credit card receipt and not an actual ticket. [Response: The machine is not designed to issue a receipt without a ticket. The ticket comes out first then the receipt. Can you speak to the Guard and get a ticket for travel as you need to have a valid ticket to travel on our trains…….. Those are two different receipts with two different prices / two different payment cards and two different time stamps. Please contact customer services to discuss a refund for the two tickets you bought this morning.] /// How about an additional ticket machine at Esher? Would ease massive queues when ticket office isn't open. /// Ridiculous queues for tickets at London Road station; queued for 15 minutes and and still couldn't buy. Can I buy a ticket on the train? [Response: Hi, please use the ticket vending machine to purchase your ticket. You'll need to buy your ticket before starting your journey.]
TICKET MACHINES (September)
So no response? You've double charged my card after you said you wouldn't. [Response: Please raise this with our Customer Relations.] No apology for giving incorrect information yesterday, then? /// Oyster top-up services not working at Brentford again today. You must not want us to pay! /// Your ticket machine at Camberley is extremely temperamental! Touch screen kept freezing. /// The ticket office at Sunbury Station is closed and the only ticket machine is out of service. /// Winnersh ticket machine out of order, now in the world's longest ticket queue at Reading. Basingstoke. /// The connectivity for your ticket machines is a joke. Missed train. Despite being at station 10 minutes early. Furious. /// The machine at West Byfleet was not accepting card, the train guard onboard towards Guildford has a broken machine. /// Please fix touchscreen machine at Berrylands station. Travelling without tickets for kids and it's your fault!
Really, half the coaches need fixing every weekend? Of course there are fewer people but they're crammed into half the space. /// What about the incessantly empty 1st class carriages? Why not halve them? /// 4 carriages in rush hour: seriously !!??? /// Air conditioning broken, no open windows. Please fix NOW. 17:20 Waterloo to Reading second or third carriage. /// No idea why heater is switched on instead of air conditioning on 17.58 train to Reading from Clapham Junction in coach no 3. Nearly every station was all jerky and then hard brakes. What's all that about? /// What's the excuse today for short trains on the 17:32 out of Waterloo. Cattle shouldn't even be transported like this... /// 2 days in a row I've paid to sit in 1st Class and I can barely get a seat because the trains are so crowded everyone is going in!! /// Try and keep a few more in service than you're currently capable of? 40 minutes in, and only cold air is when inter-carriage doors are opened. Everybody sweating!! /// Great, exceptionally crowded train with no air conditioning. Just what you want on the hottest day of the year so far. /// Might want to have re-thought the formation of the 19.20 West of England train before deciding to call additionally at Wimbledon. Another winner... /// This was happening last night on my last train home (picture of massive fire on line and passengers evacuated on station). Luckily I was getting off. [Response: Hope everyone was OK. Can you remember whether there was lightning last night, as we're still investigating the cause?] /// A 2 hour train journey with no toilet facilities = a very irritated girlfriend. Less than ideal to say the least!!! /// Why is there no air-con, and the windows locked? Are you trying to make us throw up? 5:59 Staines to Waterloo. /// Your train toilets are a bloody disgrace. Overflowing toilet and the others saying engaged but no one is in there. /// No guard announcement, not seen one, not even an apology for crazy hotness! /// Our carriage is boiling. /// I find myself on SWT again and I want to cry. Think of being trapped in a sauna. /// Travelling alone with an infant is difficult enough without being separated from your belongings and crammed into inadequate seat! /// It's a bit late now, it's been nearly 3hrs of nearly arctic conditions!! /// Having travelled back this afternoon from Bournemouth to London Waterloo, the air conditioning was insanely cold!! Why???? /// Shall we discuss overcrowding on the 18.39 Waterloo - Poole? The air conditioning was next to useless too. /// Yet again no air conditioning on any of the trains! It's a joke! No wonder people faint!! Your service is absolutely pants! Not happy. /// The platforms look great from the non air-conditioned train I'm in when I wipe the sweat out of my eyes long enough to see them. /// If you can't get your trains to places on time, please at least air-condition them. Everyone is looking very ill /// Discomfort?! It's hideous in here. I wouldn't be surprised if someone died of suffocation. /// Can you please explain why you've terminated my train at Salisbury? The next one is going to have 4 trains’ worth of people on it! /// On the 18:50 Waterloo to Reading and again air conditioning broken on rear four coaches. Was same last week. Sweltering. Please get someone to fix it! /// Don't pay £3,500 a year for other "TOCs" so I don't care what they do. I care that this red train I'm on is too bloody hot considering the amount we HAVE to pay (if given the choice SWT would be long gone). I think it's a disgrace.
1027 from Waterloo to Exeter a joke - 3 carriages and more people standing in the aisles than seated - sort it out! /// 1712 Waterloo-Basingstoke, unit 450004, no air conditioning throughout 8 carriages. /// The stench of stale urine on your trains, is like nothing I've ever encountered. No excuse. Ever. /// Another train with half-working air conditioning. /// Front 4 carriages of 21.12 Waterloo-Basingstoke all way too hot and blowing hot air around. Please fix. /// I know we have to put up with old trains on Ascot to Aldershot line but do they have to look and smell rotten inside too? /// The 07.33 Waterloo-Teddington hasn't been cleaned and is pretty disgusting with chicken bones, trodden biscuits and paper all over the place!! /// No air conditioning on the 17:53 to Basingstoke. Front 4 coaches. It's like an oven in here. /// Vile toilets on train from Barnes to Waterloo just now. /// Use your trains very regularly and barely ever see 'beggars'. Three announcements in 3 minutes is beyond excessive and could serve to demonise people. /// Door cannot close on 10.16 from Surbiton to Waterloo and smell is pretty bad. Not ideal when you have a pram. /// I'm on the 10:04 Egham to London and it's a rubbish tip! How can the train be this messy so early? /// Fancy using the £31.40 I spent to hire a cleaner? The train is filthy and smells like a tramp's armpit.
You are joking, the heating is on my train!! 07.47 from Malden Manor to Waterloo, am in third carriage from the back !!!!! /// Why no air conditioning and locked windows? It's too hot for me and definitely too hot for my 11 week old baby. Terrible. /// Hotter than the sun on the 1720 Waterloo - Reading, no air conditioning. Can we get some bricks to open the windows? /// 12.20pm from Waterloo to Reading. I think you should issue ear defenders to front carriage passengers, noise is incredible. It's definitely not normal. Maintenance needed! /// Do you actually have any working stock? /// Not sure which coach but was the 5.45 from Clapham Junction to Hampton Court! Was hotter today than any day through the summer!/// Why does SWT feel the need to have the heating on there trains on full? Being surrounded by sweaty commuters is not fun!!! /// The toilets on the 11.20 Waterloo to Exeter are filthy! /// It's 25 degrees outside, why have SWT decided to use a 4 carriage train during rush hour? /// Service tonight is meltingly hot. Everyone looks ready to faint. /// Do you have any technical specifications on the wifi? I’ve tried it numerous times this week and it’s been worse than 1992 dial-up. /// It stinks of faeces, toilets awash with urine, tables and seats and floor covered in rubbish and food waste. /// I tweeted you this morning after I cut my hand open trying to sit on the floor of a very overcrowded train. You didn't respond. /// Please bring back the normal trains. Sick of these ones with the missing seats!!
TRAPPED PASSENGERS (July)
[Response to earlier tweet: Apologise for not replying earlier. Your train was cancelled due to a signalling problem at Syon Lane.] It wasn't cancelled, it ran from Syon Lane to Putney as normal and then ran to Waterloo without stopping and no warning to get off. [Response: Sorry about the lack of warning about missing stops. As it was delayed going through Syon Lane, it ran non-stop to make up time. /// I believe this was a service originally 0801 or 02 that normally stops at Wimbledon where I work. It arrived at approx 0810 and was retimed to only stop at Berrylands, New Malden and Waterloo. It only stopped at WATERLOO and I am now having to travel back to Wimbledon. After the original announcement by the guard on the new stopping pattern, no further announcements. NOT HAPPY. [Response: The train has been run fast from Esher so that it does not delay other trains behind it. Your next train is the 0752 from Esher.] And how am I suppose to arrive at 8:00 at Wimbledon and open the office with another 30 people waiting for me? We are losing £s. /// You went fast to Weybridge. I feel for others, just a guard saying he didn't know what was going on. /// Thank you for taking me to Winchester from Waterloo instead of Woking, thereby adding nearly 2 hours to my journey. Compensation? /// The guard who told me it would stop at Earlsfield had no idea what was happening. Another insisted there’d been an announcement but neither I nor anyone else on my carriage heard it. How do I go about getting a refund for my journey please? /// I was told at Wimbledon that it would stop and 2 seconds later, once I couldn't get off, I was told differently, that's terrible! Totally disgusting service and I'll be making a formal complaint. I'm so angry right now. [Unconcerned reply: It is not always possible to inform customers in time. If you would like to raise a formal complaint, you can contact customer services.] It was 10 minutes late and full of people trying to get off. [Response: I understand your point, however if we stopped this train as per normal, it would cause considerable delay/congestion.]
TRAPPED PASSENGERS (August)
We have stopped at Earlsfield but the doors aren't opening! Please let us off! [Response: My systems show me the train has moved on to Clapham, did you get off?] No, because the doors didn't open. /// In the end some kind people gave me a lift to Guildford. Can't rely on your services, please forward me to your complaints. [Response: The driver made an error and missed out that stop I'm afraid. How many people are travelling with you?] /// Guard shut doors at Petersfield whilst passengers still leaving. Awful service and a trip to Havant and back. /// The 22:11 from Teddington has gone through 5 (!) stops without stopping and no announcement from guard. Feeling confused... Scratch that, 9 stops. Still no explanation. Now reaching Waterloo. This is a REAL train not an Alton Towers one! /// It would be lovely if you stopped trains for long enough to allow passengers to actually get off. Bags on platform at Clapham Junction, bikes and passengers trapped until Waterloo. Hoping bags still there... /// Sort your staff out! Guard on 1818 from Waterloo extremely rude-shut doors at Woking with passengers trying to board! Had to drive back to Woking from Worplesdon to pick my partner up because of this.... When I spoke to the guard in question at Worplesdon he said it was the passengers' fault and wouldn't give full name. Rude staff, delays, and price rises soon. /// 18.30 to Worcester Park. 2nd pair left doors on 1st car aren't opening. Mayhem at Clapham Junction and Earlsfield. Don't fancy my odds at Worcester Park. /// I'm now waiting at Waterloo with many other folk who wanted to get to Vauxhall in the first place. Do bosses at SWT care? [Response: Apologies for missing your stop. This was done to minimise disruption to other services and passengers]
TRAPPED PASSENGERS (September)
14.05 Waterloo to Weymouth had faulty door (would not open at Basingstoke) and rude guard (unapologetic)...please reply to my earlier tweet. [Response: I'm sorry you were over-carried, and the guard was not apologetic. Did you manage to get off at the next stop?] Got off at Winchester and returned back to Basingstoke. Time and goodwill wasted. /// Any reason the 16:50 from Waterloo to Woking failed to stop at Esher?? Husband urgently needs to get home for children. [Response: Due to unit defects, we're short of stock. Therefore we had to run it fast to avoid dangerous overcrowding. Apologies.] /// The 19.57 train from Waterloo missed out several stops. It would have been nice to have been told before the doors closed! /// I cannot express how completely unacceptable your service is. You cannot keep throwing people off trains and cancelling stops.
Report finds that bus de-regulation outside London is a failure
A report by the Institute for Public Policy Research found that millions of bus passengers have been let down by a lack of competition and the failure of deregulation. The poorest fifth of all households, who cannot afford cars, are the biggest users of taxis because of the unreliability and high fares of their local bus services. Bus fares rose by 35% above inflation between 1995 and 2013. Overall bus use outside London has fallen by 32.5% since de-regulation, whilst on London's regulated services it has grown by 99%. The report calls for the creation of local transport bodies modelled on Transport for London, with better co-ordination between buses and trains.
As a knock-on effect, perception of public transport should improve through the disappearance of Stagecoach chairman Brian Souter, who believes that capitalism is based on greed. He has already declared that he would rather 'take poison' than swallow bold plans in Tyne and Wear to control bus routes and fares in the public interest.
Fires and other serious incidents on Stagecoach buses
Bus fires are generally rare and the number affecting Stagecoach buses appears increasingly disproportionate. Assuming our records are complete, there were 5 incidents in 2009; 9 in 2011; 11 in 2012; and 10 in 2013. There have been 8 incidents in the past three months alone. These figures exclude any arson or overseas fires. The majority of fires occur when passengers are on board, and there are some horrific internet video clips of the conflagrations.
Stagecoach’s response to every incident is that safety is their absolute priority. However, fires have not been the only problem. Sanctions were imposed after a number of buses shed wheels in Scotland, a bus drove on after wrecking a shelter in Cheltenham, and a great grand-mother had to have a foot amputated after a bus ran over it as she boarded because the driver had not applied the handbrake. Another bus ignored a level crossing barrier on the Taunton-Exeter line seconds before a high speed train passed, and yet another demolished level crossing gates in Canterbury, causing major disruption to South Eastern train services. Latest incidents:
1. Stagecoach bus wrecks family home [Evening Standard 22.7.2014]
“These pictures reveal the devastation wreaked by a runaway bus which rolled backwards down a hill and crashed into the front of a family home. The images, taken by resident Natasha Ottley, show huge cracks in the brickwork in the now "totally unsafe" property after the empty 174 bus hit it. Eye witnesses claimed the bus was empty at the time and the driver chased after it to get back at the wheel after apparently leaving the handbrake off but it was travelling too quickly.
Miss Ottley, 24, returned to the scene of devastation after being alerted to the crash by a neighbour. The front doorway of the house was badly damaged. She told the Standard today her family were “devastated” and that her parents were going to remain in Spain on holiday because they had nowhere else to live at the moment. “Unfortunately this is not the relaxing holiday my parents were hoping for. They are upset but there is not much they can do here.”
Natasha, a customer services manager for an insurance company said: “I was going to have yesterday off and would have been in the house at the time of the crash - I had a lucky escape. Inside it is in ruins and totally unsafe. A neighbour phoned me at work to tell me what had happened. I could not believe it”.
She told the Standard today her family were “devastated” and that her parents were going to remain in Spain on holiday because they had nowhere else to live at the moment. Luckily we are insured and I work in insurance so I know what to do. The neighbours have been helping as much as they can and at least no one was hurt.”
An investigation was today underway into the cause of the crash. Kimberley Bish, 19, said: “People who were at the scene said that the bus driver was off the bus when it started rolling he realized what happened ran after it and tried to get on but it was too late because it was going too quickly. I came out and saw the bus stuck in the house, it was a bizarre scene.”
Another neighbour said: “The driver was in a deep state of shock he was really upset. He said he had turned the ignition off and put the handbrake on and had got off and was talking to another driver when the bus started moving. My two 14 year old twin daughters were walking just up to that house that was hit another few moments and they could have been killed - it was a lucky escape.”
The property was boarded up after yesterday’s smash and the owners are on holiday and will return to the wreckage of their home after being contacted by neighbours and family. The property was severely damaged when the bus smashed into it. Police closed the road as the driver of the 174 bus to Dagenham, which was empty of passengers, was taken to hospital to be treated for shock and minor injuries following the smash at 2.10pm yesterday.
The double-glazed porch of the house in Dagnam Park Square, in Harold Wood, east London, was destroyed in the collision. A blue hatchback parked in the drive was badly dented. Nexhmia Kiptni, 47, said; “There was a huge crash when the bus hit the house. We have been told the handbrake failed but no one is sure yet. Those poor people whose house was damaged - but at least no one was badly hurt. It was the middle of the day it could have been much worse.”
Local resident Ricky said: “There was a huge sound of crunching metal it was a massive noise. I ran out and saw the bus embedded in the house it is not something you expect to see!”
Ken Davidson, TfL’s Head of Bus Operations, said: “At around 14:15 on Monday 21 July an out of service route 174 double deck bus, operated by Stagecoach, rolled backwards from its waiting point on Dagnam Park Square hitting a residential property on Gooshays Drive. There were no reported injuries and damage to the property is currently being assessed. There will be an investigation into this incident.” ”
2. Another bus fire in Abersychan [South Wales Argus 25.7.2014]
“Bus fire is causing delays to buses in Abersychan today. The Stagecoach bus caught fire on Church Road at around 11.30am and all passengers were led off safely. Fire crews say they believe the fire was accidental and a recovery vehicle has now taken the bus away.” There was also a Stagecoach bus fire in Abersychan as recently as 30.11.2012.
3. Stagecoach bus in Southport causes traffic problems after engine fire [OTS 4.8.2014]
“A Stagecoach X2 bus in Southport caused traffic problems after engine fire. Passengers had to be hurried off Stagecoach X2 bus after its engine caught fire on Lord Street West, Southport, at about 2:20pm this afternoon (Monday 4th August 2014). The X2 Stagecoach service engine caught fire with flames reaching the upstairs rear window as it was approaching Southport town centre. The driver evacuated the passengers who were left on the pavement in shock. The fire stopped after its engine was switched off leaving clouds of smoke covering the road and nearby houses. The bus was still blocking the busy road over half an hour later. There were no injuries involved. A Stagecoach spokesman was not available to comment on the incident.”
4. Stagecoach Megabus driver arrested: passengers stranded in Spain [Evening Standard 11/8/2014]
“More than 60 passengers on a coach bound for London were left stranded at a motorway service station near Barcelona after their driver was arrested. Police detained the 48-year-old British man for allegedly using another driver’s identity card and called the coach firm, Megabus, to find out if it was going to send a replacement driver.
Customers were kept waiting for hours before being told the budget company could not send anyone. Several ended up checking into hotels, but 10 spent the night on the coach. Police eventually took them to a nearby rail station so they could continue their journeys. The driver was today being held at a police station. He was expected to be released on bail.
A Megabus spokesman said: “We arranged two buses, supplied by a Spanish operator, which arrived on site to take passengers onwards to their destination. However, we are concerned that passengers were prevented from using these vehicles by local Spanish police.””
Getting to Swanage
Pending the long-awaited extension of Swanage Railway trains into Wareham station, a good way to get to Swanage is on Go Ahead's More Bus route 50, which links Bournemouth and Swanage rail stations. The route takes a short cut on the ferry across the mouth of Poole Harbour. Buses start from bus stand A, almost opposite the main exit from the westbound platform at Bournemouth station, and currently run hourly (two-hourly on Sundays), providing excellent connections in both directions with Cross Country trains.
Cross Country reservations
Reservations on Cross Country services can now be made up to 10 minutes before a train leaves a station. Same-day reservations are made in coach C, so passengers without reservations should try to avoid this coach so that their ‘vacant seat’ does not cease to be vacant en route. Train managers can help displaced passengers find available seats, if there are any. Cross Country is also removing ‘quiet coach’ designations on the basis that far fewer passengers are using mobile phones on their trains since they introduced wi-fi. Remember that Group Save tickets are not valid on Cross Country trains. All these issues seem related to the pint-pot trains introduced by the Virgin-Stagecoach partnership before they lost the franchise.
Poole level crossing the least safe in Wessex
Network Rail has acknowledged that the level crossing adjacent to Poole’s shopping centre is by far the highest-risk in the Wessex region. Large numbers of pedestrians congregate and, when one train quickly follows another, the barriers may trap people or hit them on the head. Discussions of remedial action have reached stalemate. Meanwhile, Network Rail plans to close a few minor crossings in Hampshire.
SWT's Passengers Panel apparently defunct
The link to the Panel's website, which had onward links to User Groups such as ourselves, has now been removed from SWT's home page. The latest entry on the website, saying the Panel is re-organising, is now more than a year out of date. Presumably this inactivity is because of negative comments reaching the website while Stagecoach is bidding for more franchises.
Manston Airport update
Manston Airport in Kent was bought by Stagecoach co-founder Ann Gloag for £1 in October 2013. It was the sixth busiest freight airport in the UK, handling more cargo than Luton, Belfast, Edinburgh or Birmingham. Mrs Gloag is reportedly interested in selling the land for a garden city, presumably for more than £1. She closed the airport, with the loss of 150 jobs, after rejecting a £7m bid from an American company which wanted it as a going concern. She has since started selling the airport equipment despite a petition, with almost 8,000 signatures, pressing Thanet Council to consider a compulsory purchase order. Stagecoach robustly distanced itself from her activities [Evening Standard 6.6.2014].
Acknowledgements / Contact details
As always, thanks to everyone who has been kind enough to contact us. Without your support and input, this newsletter would not be possible. The newsletter is produced in good faith, based on reports and information from many individuals and sources including information identified from press and website research. Contributions are always welcome. We aim for accuracy at all times, because our good reputation depends on it. We do not use material which could be offensive or which appears unlikely to be correct.
Address for correspondence: Denis Fryer, 19 Fontwell Close, Calmore, Southampton, SO40 2TN (firstname.lastname@example.org).