Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Day 2: What you get for £6,144.00 per annum

The previous evening’s commute which had lacked any information or staff guidance from Southeastern had resulted in me waiting at Folkestone Central for a bus replacement service which never turned up. Possibly because it was in fact waiting at Folkestone West!

I left the office at 6pm with very low expectations for the commute home but was pleasantly surprised that the display boards clearly said that an express bus connection to DEAL from Folkestone West would form part of the 18:37 HS1 St Pancras departure. Alas this service was delayed by 20 minutes, but fortunately through the magic of Twitter I was advised not to worry.

There was good communication from the onboard manger on the late running 18:37 up to Ashford regarding the express bus connections but once we departed Ashford no information was given at all. My anxiety level went up a few notches when I read the following tweet from someone who got the earlier 17:37 St Pancras departure.

I alighted at Folkestone West and it was clear there were quite a few fellow passengers wondering where they should go for the express bus connection. There was no Southeastern station staff about or signs but I was pretty sure I had seen a bus in the new car park the night before, so we headed over there. There was approximately 30-40 people heading to DEAL and it was absolutely chucking it down with rain. There was one bus with the words Rail Replacement on its display.

"Is this the express bus to DEAL?"....

Conductor: "DEAL? That left a while back, there are no more buses to DEAL"...

Things got a bit ugly, a little bit aggressive. I am not going to elaborate because I am presuming the rail replacement operator is not part of Southeastern and it is very clear they are under pressure with a clear lack of information or planning from Southeastern.

The situation had escalated to a point where the bus was going to be commandeered by commuters but fortunately a driver was found for a bus parked in the other Folkestone West car park. We headed off to DEAL, hoorah... the driver got lost a bit and we headed back to Folkestone, booo... then we headed off to DEAL again, hoorah...

We arrived at DEAL station just before 9pm.

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