New ‘Sort it, Southeastern’ campaign

Sort It SoutheasternPlease note this post is from my previous blog. To read my posts during the 2017 General Election campaign click here.

Today I am launching a new consumer campaign – Sort It, Southeastern – to secure much-needed change in the atrocious service that commuters across Greenwich receive.

When I was selected as Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Greenwich and Woolwich back in July, I made championing the interests of frustrated Southeastern commuters in the constituency one of my first pledges in this campaign. In this I must declare an interest – as a long-standing and frustrated Southeastern commuter myself, and one who like most people, has experienced literally thousands of days waiting for delayed, cancelled or seemingly non-existent trains. I know from speaking to commuters across the constituency that my tortuous daily journeys to and from Westcombe Park are typical of the Southeastern commuter’s experience.

The government has just arranged for a welcome £70m investment to improve this service – and it is now up to Southeastern to deliver. I think it’s about time we used our strength in numbers, as customers, to hold this company’s feet to the fire.

That’s why I’ve launched my new petition calling for Southeastern to improve its service and communication, introduce longer trains on all routes and, crucially, make a commitment to work with Network Rail to restore services from Greenwich Line stations to Charing Cross after the London Bridge re-build from 2018.

Sort it, Southeastern

(1) Improving service and communication

The petition firstly calls for a drastic improvement in service provision and communication with customers. The recent extension of Southeastern’s franchise until 2018 brought with it an announcement of a welcome £70m investment in improving customer service and maintenance – it is now incumbent on Southeastern to deliver the improved service that commuters deserve, in return for the certainty they have been given by the government.

As important as greater reliability and punctuality is better communication when things go wrong. Southeastern’s record on this is nothing short of atrocious, with a lack of information, often no announcements and stations and incorrect or out of date information appearing on electronic stations displays. The company’s no doubt beleaguered Twitter operators are often the best source of information – but it shouldn’t take an angry tweet to get the information that we need to plan our traveling options.

(2) Longer trains on all routes going through Greenwich

Secondly, the petition calls for longer train trains on all routes that go through the Royal Borough of Greenwich. We will see some 12-carriage trains on the Greenwich Line from January to help ameliorate the disruption caused by the London Bridge re-build, but we need to see longer trains for commuters who use Blackheath and Kidbrooke stations as well, and for the company to commit to deliver 12-carriage services as standard in the future.

(3) Restoring services to Charing Cross

Finally, the petition tackles an issue that has been explored at length by the Greenwich Line Users Group (GLUG) – the little-known reality that as it stands, the 23rd December of this year will be the last date that services will run from Deptford Greenwich, Maze Hill or Westcombe Park to Charing Cross. Ever.

Despite the significant disruption it will cause over the next three years, I believe the London Bridge re-build is the right thing to do for the transport network and will bring south London the well-functioning transport hub it so clearly needs.

However, the permanent loss of the Spa Road junction and the ability of Greenwich Line trains to cross over to Waterloo East and Charing Cross is a real blow to local commuters from Deptford, Greenwich, Maze Hill and Westcombe Park – who are effectively being expected to pay the price of improving everyone else’s services. This is a point that has been lost amidst discussion of the short-term impact of the redevelopment work, and one that needs to be addressed.

The petition therefore calls on Southeastern to commit to working with Network Rail to restore Greenwich Line services to Charing Cross by finding a solution to this problem – such as the one proposed by GLUG for a new junction at North Kent East that would not disrupt other services. We need a full restoration of services to Charing Cross, at all times of the day and week.

Strength in numbers

The only way we are going to get the change we need is by using our strength in numbers to show Southeastern that we are serious – and over the coming months I will be out drumming up support for the petition from my fellow commuters on station platforms, on the doorstep and online. I hope as many residents as possible will give this campaign their support.

You can sign the petition at www.sortitsoutheastern.com and tweet your support using the hashtag #sortitsoutheastern

4 thoughts on “New ‘Sort it, Southeastern’ campaign”

  1. Whilst any campaign is welcome and southeastern leave a lot to be desired, many of these issues are down to the Department for Transport to rectify. They allocate rolling stock and plan new orders.

    Southeastern are one of the very few London-area train operating companies to not receive additional stock in recent years, nor any imminently. I’m not including High Speed way out in Kent as of little relevance to London. The DfT are the ones who can change that by taking up existing open options on new rolling stock orders. There’s 32 carriages on ‘open order’ with Bombardier not taken up currently which is a follow up to an order from Southern. That could be taken up and trains come to SE or Southern who then release 32 to SE.

    It is extremely unlikely Charing Cross services can ever be re-instated. The links are to be cut. Focusing energy there seems a mistake. Focus should be on more trains with newer technology allowing selective door opening thus Greenwich line trains can utilise 12 carriage trains, which Woolwich Dockyard prevents. This technology also needs to be fitted to older existing stock.

    in addition focus should be on adequate staffing as seen on London overground – from first to last service. To match this a commitment to at least 4 trains an hour from first to last service at all stations as London Overground provide.

    It would be a good idea to also push for London Overground to take over southeastern metro services from 2018. They were proposing all these improvements but prevented from taking over this year.

  2. I really don’t get this petition.

    As someone standing as the Conservative PPC, don’t you realise it is this Government that has just awarded Southeastern, one of the lowest rated Train Operating Companies, and derided by its commuters, another four years to run this line.

    I really don’t see how this petition will make a difference, when you could tackle this internally. But, let’s cover each of your 3 reasons for the petitions:

    1. Improving service and communication.

    This has already been covered by the new franchise – though is merely a repeat of the ‘Blackberry phones for drivers’ pledge in 2010/11. Whether this happens or not is down to the DfT holding Southeastern to account. They haven’t so far, and I doubt they will

    And communicating with customers? Well this: http://philrogers.me/1028b/ – they just spout lie after lie.

    2. Longer trains

    There will be 12-car trains across the network from January, but not clear how many and where (http://philrogers.me/1013a/)

    Maybe this is part of the new franchise agreement. The agreement that myself and others have tried to obtain, but have so far been stonewalled by the DfT and also the Tory Rail Minister.

    Do you have any further information that you have been told?

    3. Restoring services to Charing Cross from the Greenwich Line.

    This has been part of the original proposals for years.

    If the Conservatives in Greenwich cared so much this would have been addressed earlier. Why now? Were you not aware of this?

    I think, as with other Tory MPs/PPCs trying to show they care about commuters, your 3 reasons are pretty weak and badly targeted. I wish you the best of luck with your attempts to get the sympathies and support of your local commuters.

  3. Matt, can you reply to the issues mentioned above?

    As it is the Department for Transport who allocate and order stock, what is being done to push them to enable 12 car trains as soon as possible after January when services in the PM rush hour see a third of trains cut and passenger capacity by 20% on the Greenwich and Woolwich line?

    Southeastern get around this by saying they will have 12 car trains to compensate for cuts, but this is only off peak or by stretching the definition of peak from 4-7pm, so just one 12 car just after 4pm technically counts as running 12 car at peak times, but in reality no good for the vast majority in the PM peak.

    As Woolwich Dockyard prevents any existing trains calling there (all PM rush hour from 5:30 to 6:30pm) becoming 12 car they either need technical upgrades (which should have been done long before now) and/or new trains with the technology. Again this should have been done but we are where we are, so getting some asap is the priority.

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