Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Secretary of State for Transport turns a deaf ear on Deal

The Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond MP has declined a request to intervene in the dispute with Southeastern to extend the highspeed timetable to Deal. Although it was stressed to Mr Hammond his intervention could help regenerate the East Kent economy and improve transport infrastructure, it was left to the Department for Transport (Correspondence Manager) to issue the following reply:

The current level of services which operate since December 2009 is based on the Department’s Service Level Commitment (SLC). A Service Level Commitment is the means by which the Secretary of State specifies the level, frequency, maximum journey times and stopping patterns of the railway passenger services that the Franchisee is to operate. The SLC specifies the minimum service level to be provided by Southeastern.

The franchise operator, Southeastern, has not suggested extending services to Deal, but is perfectly free to do so should they believe that a commercial case exists. If such an approach was made, and the case proven, the Department is unlikely to object to such as proposal. However any such change would be predicated on there being no increase in Southeastern’s subsidy requirement, and would thus need to be commercially justified.  In the current economic climate, any increase in the levels of subsidy paid would be extremely difficult to justify.  

Southeastern could propose further changes to the current SLC.  However, changes would only be made following a further public consultation and after consideration of the responses and the assessment of the benefits and dis-benefits to all passengers.

Robert Baker
Correspondence Manager
Rail Contracts
Department for Transport

Monday, 20 December 2010

A Christmas message to Charles Horton (MD, Southeastern)

During this festive season of peace and good will to all, it is a time to think about the less fortunate among us. Those who have seen their train services reduced, journey times increased and have been excluded from the Southeastern highspeed network. A time to reflect on those who have struggled to manage and deliver adequate services and have been berated by passengers and the media alike.

As a New Year grows closer it is an occasion when we welcome something new in our lives and at the same time, forget about all the bad memories which the passing year gave us. As the rail consumer ghosts of Christmas past, present and future wait in the viaducts. Perhaps now would be the time to have the foresight and wisdom to extend the highspeed network to Deal. There is something for everyone in Deal whether your passion is golf, angling, rowing, shopping or perhaps a walk along the pier, a day at the beach, a visit to the castle or just to sample the local cuisine.

Deal has a town motto of 'Adjuvate Advenas' which for those not familiar with Latin is translated into "Befriend a Stranger"....

Merry Christmas Charles Horton

Friday, 10 December 2010

Charlie not indulging in "populist" bashing of Southeastern trains

Just a few days after failing to attend the Rail Stakeholders Forum attended by Vince Lucas, service delivery director of Southeastern Railways to argue for the highspeed extension for Deal. MP Charlie Elphicke told the Express he would not be indulging in "populist" bashing of the train operator over the "service failure" on December 1st.
He said: "Of course it's frustrating, but everyone knows that thankfully this doesn't happen all the time and we need to get it clear as soon as possible. I'm not going to jump on the bandwagon, it's difficult for everyone."
An extraordinary statement at a time when other Kent MP's are lining up to demand Southeastern trains deliver better services to their constituents and which warrants a reply from
It's interesting that Charlie Elphicke is so out of touch with his constituents saying - he would not be indulging in "populist" bashing of the train operator. Deal commuters, schoolchildren and residents who rely on the rail network are fed up with the abysmal service we get from Southeastern trains even in good weather at an extortionate price. We need the highspeed extension to Deal to bring inward investment, job prospects and relief for London commuters. Other Kent MP's are getting on and doing their job, sticking up for their constituents.

It is inexcusible for Southeastern to just stop services and leave commuters from East Kent stranded, the panic on the underground and complete passenger information meltdown at London terminals on December 1st was a complete service failure. The new Southeastern December timetable will introduce a further 8 minute connection wait for Deal, Walmer and Sandwich commuters at Dover Priory waiting for the highspeed service and in January all peak tickets will increase by 12.8%. Unfortunately Mr Elphicke these frustrations are not going to just "clear as soon as possible".

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

New Southeastern timetable increases Deal to St Pancras highspeed commute

On December 12th several weeks before Southeastern raise mainline and highspeed fares for Deal commuters by 12.8%, the peak highspeed service journey time will rise by 8 minutes. The Southeastern December timetable will mean travelling from Deal to Dover via mainline and then highspeed to St Pancras will now take 1 hour and 47 minutes.

When asked why the timetable had increased the highspeed connection time for passengers from Deal rather than reduce it? Southeastern Customer Relations issued the following response:-

"I am sorry that you are unhappy with the train services provided for passengers in the Deal area. Timetables are always a compromise, as it is difficult to provide services that suit each passenger individually. Nevertheless, we try to balance the needs and wishes of all of our passengers effectively."
Customer Relations Officer