southeastern Stakeholder Forum

Representative of the Greenwich Society attended the rail company's meeting on 4th March 2015

Panel of speakers: -

 

  • Yolanda Laybourne from the Bexhill Rail Action Group (Chair)
  • David Statham, Managing Director of Southeastern
  • Ellie Burrows, Area Director, Kent, Network Rail
  • Richard Dean, Southeastern Train Services Director
  • Barbara Thomas, Southeastern Passenger Services Director 

 

Attending for GLUG

  • Jonathan Chandler
  • Lesley Hodsdon

 Yolanda Laybourne opened the meeting, welcoming the attendees, and David Statham made an introductory presentation, reiterating the challenges of the London Bridge re-build and the Thameslink programme while reporting that southeastern had this year introduced over 100 extra station staff and both a new timetable and services – making it the biggest change in years. He promised a much-improved future but could not avoid the current necessary pain (including halving the platform space the overcrowding on Cannon Street services). He also reported that passenger surveys had highlighted that there appeared to be an issue of trust to which southeastern will respond.

A short video about the current state of works and the passenger engagement (which will be available on-line) was shown to the forum.

Richard Dean reported that Southern work had now been largely completed at London Bridge (except for the track) and that through work had now started. He said that in August 2016 we would see the Charing Cross platforms open along with some of the new concourse. However that would mark the beginning of the period during which Cannon St services will not stop at London Bridge station. The Greenwich line services running into Cannon Street had, he said, displaced other services to Blackfriars. He also acknowledged some failures in expectations of train loading that required attention. He went on to report that the scheduled Easter work of the fly-under construction means that all lines will be closed over the long holiday weekend. Some train lengths had been changed with effect from Monday 2nd March 2015 but he stressed that all available rolling stock is now in use. 22 trains per hour running into and out of Cannon Street had also meant a diversion of some services to Blackfriars. A public consultation about the August 2016 changes will take place in April of this year.

David Statham added that southeastern will begin publishing loading/crowding information for every train routinely but their options for new rolling stock are limited to what becomes available nationally and in competition with other franchise operators. A market research campaign about communication is underway, southeastern now has dedicated Twitter staff working 24/7 and, in an effort to improve passenger information, iPads are being issued to station staff.

Elle Burrows spoke about Network Rail’s perspective. 

The meeting format then dictated that a group exercise take place so that each table of attendees discuss and agree only two questions each to be asked of the panel. This severely limited the opportunity for GLUG representatives to obtain answers to our questions, being outnumbered by Kent and High Speed service delegates. Most questions and answers related to rural and long-distance services, therefore. The information that was provided by answers to questions included –

Timetabling

The large gaps in service intervals into and out of Cannon Street early in the morning and late in the evening were blamed on the diversion of the Greenwich line services into Cannon Street. However it was reported that there might be an opportunity in May to review the timetable in light of complaints.

Information

There was much complaint about the lack of advance information about weekend engineering and off peak performance especially on the South Coast together with a plea that southeastern does not move to rely solely on electronic communication in future. It was suggested that user groups were vital in successful communication. Local authorities requested better advance notification of changes and that an improvement to information “on the day” should be made. It was noted that the report on local plans for disruption had not yet been published but southeastern did report that they were reviewing their 45-point plan and using the national Darwin system as well as engaging in further training programmes, work with drivers and the information they can give to passengers, improved customer information systems and passenger surveys to measure performance.

Disruption

The attendees requested that more preparation was made for the problems caused by leaf fall and from cable theft.

Capacity

This will depend on the acquisition of rolling stock from Thameslink in 2016 and 2018

Platform overcrowding

Extra staff will be employed with roving microphones to assist in moving passengers along the platforms.

Greenwich Line

Southeastern agreed to consider the possibility of a shuttle service between Deptford and Plumstead when Cannon Street was closed and/or engineering works prevented the operation of a normal service on the Greenwich line.

The meeting was closed by Yolanda Laybourne at 5pm