Southeastern: no surprise - and then a big surprise
Our favourite railway operator continues to leave thousands stranded through engineering works; short, cancelled and delayed services - and then surprises us with an award for 'excellence'!(Note: this was written before the 'Great storm of St Jude'. Whilst the twigs, leaves and branches on the track did have to be removed, there was no excuse for telling people there were no trains when there were and there were trains when there weren't. But that's what happened to passengers for years, storm or not, so it hardly seems worth writing about. I'd rather cover other every-day nonsense.)
No surpriseSoutheastern Railways didn't surprise us in the week of 21-25 October 2013 with a collapse in service usually only brought about by the mention of light snow. Passengers paying fares that make them cry tears of blood whilst being ignored or provoked by Southeastern were left on platforms or stranded on trains, either forgotten or fed ludicrously inaccurate information.
|Some messages from Southeastern's fans|
This 'Southeastern morning' went from bad to normal with a cancelled train, a short-formed train, a very, very late train, a stranded train with no information given to passengers at all (then stunningly incorrect information) and an arrival so late that some people considered attempting the return journey immediately in order to be home in time for Coronation Street.
|"Not our fault!"|
My suspicion is that board bonuses are mainly triggered by revenue and cost-cutting targets (I asked Southeastern to share how board bonuses work but it's not transparent on this matter and didn't even respond, after three times of asking), rather than anything that would benefit passengers. Until this situation is resolved services will continue to be a metaphor for a three legged donkey drawing a cart with only one wheel, whilst the owner explores the possibility of withdrawing another wheel, and the donkey.
Also, I'd like to know how much of the compensation from Network Rail to Southeastern will find its way to passengers through Delay Repay and how much will be kept back...
The Southeastern surprise
|Southeastern staff collecting their innovation and excellence award. "Cinders, you will get to the ball! If you don't go by Southeastern..."|
If you can believe it, here is the list of Southeastern's awards:
- ‘Innovation of the Year’ award for an engineering system that has transformed train maintenance
- Station of the Year and Major Station of the Year for London Cannon Street
- Highly Commended for City and Metro Operator of the Year
- Joint award for Industry Achievement for the transport operation for the London 2012 Games.
|British Airways adopts Southeastern's train maintenance regime|
|"Aeroplane seats should be more like this."|
|"This is how we'll be repairing pressurised cabins from now on," said an airline spokesperson. "Southeastern's maintenance wiki is well wicked and will save us a bundle."|
|London Cannon Street station, the 'station of the year'. It's got brilliant facilities for staff who are supposed to be looking after our safety, but what tipped the balance was the time given for staff to research personal matters as they did so.|
|"Right you lot, some of you managed to get on eight carriages yesterday. Let's see what you can do with six."|
The great thing about this for Southeastern is that this trick, unless I'm very much mistaken, doesn't count against performance figures, which no passenger believes anyway. Southeastern says on twitter to people stranded by this situation or on dangerously overloaded trains: "We'd rather run a short train than cancel it." Of course you would; the fewer carriages used, the fewer miles they clock up. The 'engineering wiki' is barely troubled and maintenance costs are cut. Either that or the maintenance is very poor and the extensive research conducted by the good people of the National Railway Awards failed to uncover that the maintenance is being conducted by one 'Wooky' apprentice, who can be paid under the minimum wage, with his wiki and a left-handed screwdriver.
But what I'm really interested to find is where are the missing carriages? Where is this this space, the size of Canada, where Southeastern is keeping them, because they sure aren't on the rails we use.
You can get The Royal Factor through this link in the UK: RoyalFactorUK, and this one in the US: RoyalFactorUS.