Passengers do not trust Southern to provide a good day-to-day service

Southern

Southern

First published in News
Last updated
by , Business editor

RAIL companies operating in Sussex have some of the poorest levels of passenger trust in the country.

Southern, which operates between Brighton and London and along the coast from Portsmouth Harbour and Hastings, had the lowest overall rating from passengers across a range of areas.

On truthfulness, honesty and integrity and treating customers fairly, Southern was rated worse than any other operator, according to a Passenger Focus survey.

On principles, industry leadership and “doing the right thing when no one is looking”, Southern also scored worst.

Out of 18 categories the operator was the worst-rated 11 times, and in the bottom three 15 times.

First Capital Connect, which will run the Thameslink route between Brighton and Bedford until September, was also rated poorly by passengers.

It was rated in the bottom three ten times and the bottom five all but once.

A Southern spokeswoman said: “The report again draws the conclusion that there is a connection between performance and trust.

"Unfortunately the survey was completed in January – a time when our performance was severely affected by some of the worst weather in living memory.

"Since then we have been working hard with Network Rail to improve performance and have made some good progress recently with performance steadily improving month by month.

“We know there is still more to do to rebuild our passengers’ trust after what was a very long, frustrating winter for many of them.”

A First Capital Connect spokesman said: “"We care very much about our passengers' journeys and have made huge efforts to improve those elements of the service within our control and to engage in new ways with our customers to help them at times of disruption.

“In the latest National Passenger Survey results passenger satisfaction on the Thameslink South route between London and Brighton rose by 18% to 80% – a record for that route.

“We know we have to do more though and will press ahead with final improvements during the remainder of our franchise such as free station wifi at key stations to give passengers even easier ways of communicating with us."

  • What are your experiences, good or bad, with train companies? Let us know below.

Comments (14)

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11:31am Fri 15 Aug 14

rayellerton says...

I use the coast line mainly and find Southern ok, but on the London line I avoid getting FCC trains as they are dirty and unreliable.. certainly prefer to train rather than drive any distance
I use the coast line mainly and find Southern ok, but on the London line I avoid getting FCC trains as they are dirty and unreliable.. certainly prefer to train rather than drive any distance rayellerton
  • Score: 6

12:08pm Fri 15 Aug 14

Nick Brighton says...

Blaming it on last Winter's weather is wrong. Southeastern and SouthWestTrains encountered the same weather, but weren't rated as badly, so it wasn't the weather that was the cause. Sometimes companies should just take criticism on the chin and acknowledge they are providing a rubbish service, then spend money and focus time on fixing it.
Blaming it on last Winter's weather is wrong. Southeastern and SouthWestTrains encountered the same weather, but weren't rated as badly, so it wasn't the weather that was the cause. Sometimes companies should just take criticism on the chin and acknowledge they are providing a rubbish service, then spend money and focus time on fixing it. Nick Brighton
  • Score: 15

12:16pm Fri 15 Aug 14

Discombobulated says...

I booked tickets to take my daughter to the Albert Hall for the proms & meet my mum there. The train ended up over an hour late because of a broken train ahead. We missed the concert, wasted the price of the tickets & had our day ruined. Southern's response: Do you know about delay repay? Yes I do. Do you know about how little that helps me? Consistently the worst service of any train operator.
I booked tickets to take my daughter to the Albert Hall for the proms & meet my mum there. The train ended up over an hour late because of a broken train ahead. We missed the concert, wasted the price of the tickets & had our day ruined. Southern's response: Do you know about delay repay? Yes I do. Do you know about how little that helps me? Consistently the worst service of any train operator. Discombobulated
  • Score: 11

12:28pm Fri 15 Aug 14

cynic_the says...

I carry a heavy laptop 6km a day on foot - because I don't trust Southern to get me to London without fail (if I can't get there, I don't get paid unless I can work from home).

Still, at least it only costs me £5,000 a year...
I carry a heavy laptop 6km a day on foot - because I don't trust Southern to get me to London without fail (if I can't get there, I don't get paid unless I can work from home). Still, at least it only costs me £5,000 a year... cynic_the
  • Score: 0

12:58pm Fri 15 Aug 14

clearlyapenalty says...

I have the misfortune to have to commute from Portslade to London Bridge every day on Southern. It is such an ordeal with delays and cancellations the norm, rather than the exception. As a passenger you feel that you are treated with contempt - not what you expect for considerably more than 4 grand a year.

As one comment said, delay repay is a joke due to the 'formula' they calculate refunds - they divide my season ticket price by 52 weeks and then 5 days (obviously I never take a holiday) and make the ridiculous assumption that we love the experience so much I also make an additional return trip once a month! Utter a*seholes, the board is not fit for purpose!
I have the misfortune to have to commute from Portslade to London Bridge every day on Southern. It is such an ordeal with delays and cancellations the norm, rather than the exception. As a passenger you feel that you are treated with contempt - not what you expect for considerably more than 4 grand a year. As one comment said, delay repay is a joke due to the 'formula' they calculate refunds - they divide my season ticket price by 52 weeks and then 5 days (obviously I never take a holiday) and make the ridiculous assumption that we love the experience so much I also make an additional return trip once a month! Utter a*seholes, the board is not fit for purpose! clearlyapenalty
  • Score: 16

1:31pm Fri 15 Aug 14

Worthing Jim says...

clearlyapenalty wrote:
I have the misfortune to have to commute from Portslade to London Bridge every day on Southern. It is such an ordeal with delays and cancellations the norm, rather than the exception. As a passenger you feel that you are treated with contempt - not what you expect for considerably more than 4 grand a year.

As one comment said, delay repay is a joke due to the 'formula' they calculate refunds - they divide my season ticket price by 52 weeks and then 5 days (obviously I never take a holiday) and make the ridiculous assumption that we love the experience so much I also make an additional return trip once a month! Utter a*seholes, the board is not fit for purpose!
What's particularly worrying is that Govia have won the rail franchise for Thameslink. On the plus side, it's an end to the horrible FCC rolling stock. However a potentially major minus is that Govia (that runs Southern, Gatwick Express & Southeastern) now have an effective monopoly on trains between the South Central/East Coast and London and beyond to Bedford and Cambridge in one big inclusive franchise, locked in until 2021. Expect fares to go up a little more....
[quote][p][bold]clearlyapenalty[/bold] wrote: I have the misfortune to have to commute from Portslade to London Bridge every day on Southern. It is such an ordeal with delays and cancellations the norm, rather than the exception. As a passenger you feel that you are treated with contempt - not what you expect for considerably more than 4 grand a year. As one comment said, delay repay is a joke due to the 'formula' they calculate refunds - they divide my season ticket price by 52 weeks and then 5 days (obviously I never take a holiday) and make the ridiculous assumption that we love the experience so much I also make an additional return trip once a month! Utter a*seholes, the board is not fit for purpose![/p][/quote]What's particularly worrying is that Govia have won the rail franchise for Thameslink. On the plus side, it's an end to the horrible FCC rolling stock. However a potentially major minus is that Govia (that runs Southern, Gatwick Express & Southeastern) now have an effective monopoly on trains between the South Central/East Coast and London and beyond to Bedford and Cambridge in one big inclusive franchise, locked in until 2021. Expect fares to go up a little more.... Worthing Jim
  • Score: 2

1:32pm Fri 15 Aug 14

Quiterie says...

This article sums Southern up. They just don't get it. They don't think they're doing anything wrong. If you contact their customer service staff they come across as arrogant and dismissive.

People aren't stupid. They know that things outside of Southern's control (like the weather or Network Rail's shortcomings) will have an impact on their journey, but the way Southern then deal with these problems and communicate with passengers IS within their control. And this is where they are totally useless. But if you draw this to their attention, they're not the slightest bit interested and claim that their communication with passengers is excellent.

That's why on truthfulness, honesty and integrity and treating customers fairly, Southern were rated worse than any other operator. But here we have Southern trying to blame poor levels of passenger trust purely on the weather. When in fact it runs much deeper than that.

Of course "performance has been steadily improving month by month" since January. That always happens as we move from winter to summer. That's not why people don't trust Southern.

For example in terms of "treating customers fairly" they charge London Bridge commuters more than London Victoria commuters for a much poorer service. Whenever you ask why this is you get a different answer every single time. In other words you get fobbed and not provided with any justification whatsoever.

Unfortunately Southern have weak managers who haven't been able to change the culture in the company. Chris Burchell the CEO, who has recently left wasn't able to change this culture. I hope his replacement makes better progress.

Don't get me wrong First Capital Connect are also useless, but they know they're useless and don't come across as quite so arrogant as Southern.
This article sums Southern up. They just don't get it. They don't think they're doing anything wrong. If you contact their customer service staff they come across as arrogant and dismissive. People aren't stupid. They know that things outside of Southern's control (like the weather or Network Rail's shortcomings) will have an impact on their journey, but the way Southern then deal with these problems and communicate with passengers IS within their control. And this is where they are totally useless. But if you draw this to their attention, they're not the slightest bit interested and claim that their communication with passengers is excellent. That's why on truthfulness, honesty and integrity and treating customers fairly, Southern were rated worse than any other operator. But here we have Southern trying to blame poor levels of passenger trust purely on the weather. When in fact it runs much deeper than that. Of course "performance has been steadily improving month by month" since January. That always happens as we move from winter to summer. That's not why people don't trust Southern. For example in terms of "treating customers fairly" they charge London Bridge commuters more than London Victoria commuters for a much poorer service. Whenever you ask why this is you get a different answer every single time. In other words you get fobbed and not provided with any justification whatsoever. Unfortunately Southern have weak managers who haven't been able to change the culture in the company. Chris Burchell the CEO, who has recently left wasn't able to change this culture. I hope his replacement makes better progress. Don't get me wrong First Capital Connect are also useless, but they know they're useless and don't come across as quite so arrogant as Southern. Quiterie
  • Score: 12

1:47pm Fri 15 Aug 14

tonyhotel71 says...

I use Southern a lot between Hove and London and on the whole find the service very good. In the recent hot weather the air conditioning was a dream. So many of the delays seem to be caused by people being hit by a train which can hardly be blamed on southern.
I use Southern a lot between Hove and London and on the whole find the service very good. In the recent hot weather the air conditioning was a dream. So many of the delays seem to be caused by people being hit by a train which can hardly be blamed on southern. tonyhotel71
  • Score: -3

2:26pm Fri 15 Aug 14

NickBrt says...

We should let Caroline and Jason run the trains!
We should let Caroline and Jason run the trains! NickBrt
  • Score: 4

2:50pm Fri 15 Aug 14

Plantpot says...

I commuted recently for nearly two years, and on the whole found the experience OK. I'm glad though that I got on at Brighton, as by only a few stops up the line it's standing room only. That, however, is difficult to change given that the bulk of people want to use the service at the same time each day. Of course, occasionally it was horrendous, but by and large because of infrastructure problems or the weather. it doesn't help that people also want to chuck themselves in front of the train in what feels like increasing numbers. I did commute many years ago using the old BR, and that was a truly dreadful experience - it's much better these days.

I have noticed that since it became vogue for companies to invite comments/suggestions for improvement, people have obliged by finding fault. Whether they really mean it or not or whether it is valid is another matter.
I commuted recently for nearly two years, and on the whole found the experience OK. I'm glad though that I got on at Brighton, as by only a few stops up the line it's standing room only. That, however, is difficult to change given that the bulk of people want to use the service at the same time each day. Of course, occasionally it was horrendous, but by and large because of infrastructure problems or the weather. it doesn't help that people also want to chuck themselves in front of the train in what feels like increasing numbers. I did commute many years ago using the old BR, and that was a truly dreadful experience - it's much better these days. I have noticed that since it became vogue for companies to invite comments/suggestions for improvement, people have obliged by finding fault. Whether they really mean it or not or whether it is valid is another matter. Plantpot
  • Score: -4

5:36pm Fri 15 Aug 14

Tammy Flugh says...

I tried to travel from Eastbourne to Ashford last Christmas Eve. I know the weather was appalling and could well understand that Southern were having problems.
The real problem was the terrible customer service. Their website said one thing and the station display said something completely different. Neither bore any resemblance to reality. The station staff had no idea what was happening. Not their fault as they were being kept in the dark too.
I tried to travel from Eastbourne to Ashford last Christmas Eve. I know the weather was appalling and could well understand that Southern were having problems. The real problem was the terrible customer service. Their website said one thing and the station display said something completely different. Neither bore any resemblance to reality. The station staff had no idea what was happening. Not their fault as they were being kept in the dark too. Tammy Flugh
  • Score: 2

8:06pm Fri 15 Aug 14

hoveguyactually says...

I have travelled between Hove and Chichester several times lately and cannot understand why there are so few compartments on the trains, when there are so many tourists using them this time of the year. The train from Portsmouth is often packed before it arrives at Chichester, which means having to stand all the way in a crowded compartment. I have found a similar situation on the return journey from Eastbourne to Brighton, where the train is already full of passengers coming from Ashford. In both cases an extra compartment is a necessity.
My other complaint is with the Lost Property department at Brighton Station. When I called there at around 4.00 pm a few weeks ago, I was told by the man in charge there that he was too busy to deal with my inquiry, and that I should return the following day. Too busy to have a look at various items beside him at the time. I did call the following day, only to discover that the office was locked and there was no one dealing with lost property. In fact nobody there knew why the man himself had not turned up. I called in there nearly every day for about two weeks afterwards, but the office was always closed. This was in the height of summer. I never did find out what happened to the item that I had accidentally left on a train. Enquiries in the ticket office led me nowhere, in spite of my being given telephone numbers to try. Luckily the item was not valuable, as the service is appalling. What visitors must think about it does not bear contemplating.
I have travelled between Hove and Chichester several times lately and cannot understand why there are so few compartments on the trains, when there are so many tourists using them this time of the year. The train from Portsmouth is often packed before it arrives at Chichester, which means having to stand all the way in a crowded compartment. I have found a similar situation on the return journey from Eastbourne to Brighton, where the train is already full of passengers coming from Ashford. In both cases an extra compartment is a necessity. My other complaint is with the Lost Property department at Brighton Station. When I called there at around 4.00 pm a few weeks ago, I was told by the man in charge there that he was too busy to deal with my inquiry, and that I should return the following day. Too busy to have a look at various items beside him at the time. I did call the following day, only to discover that the office was locked and there was no one dealing with lost property. In fact nobody there knew why the man himself had not turned up. I called in there nearly every day for about two weeks afterwards, but the office was always closed. This was in the height of summer. I never did find out what happened to the item that I had accidentally left on a train. Enquiries in the ticket office led me nowhere, in spite of my being given telephone numbers to try. Luckily the item was not valuable, as the service is appalling. What visitors must think about it does not bear contemplating. hoveguyactually
  • Score: 0

8:54pm Fri 15 Aug 14

tonyhotel71 says...

Reading some of these comments make me think people are travelling on a different railway company to the one I travel on. i often see people standing when in fact there ARE empty seats. Ok so you cant get a whole area to yourself but there ARE seats, Sometimes people have bags and coats on empty seats, so why not ask them to move them so you can sit down? On morning peak trains to London why does everyone want to travel in the front coaches? Move down the train towards the back and so often you will find seats. If you are travelling from the Hove direction in off peak trains there are another 4 or 8 coaches added at Haywards Heath from Eastbourne and these sections normally have tons of empty seats. Going in the opposite direction at night, go the front at Victoria or Clapham and you will certainly get a seat when the hords descend at East Croydon.On the whole as I said before its overall not a bad service and if you took the delays caused by seeming suicides out of the equation we have a good service with good rolling stock.
Reading some of these comments make me think people are travelling on a different railway company to the one I travel on. i often see people standing when in fact there ARE empty seats. Ok so you cant get a whole area to yourself but there ARE seats, Sometimes people have bags and coats on empty seats, so why not ask them to move them so you can sit down? On morning peak trains to London why does everyone want to travel in the front coaches? Move down the train towards the back and so often you will find seats. If you are travelling from the Hove direction in off peak trains there are another 4 or 8 coaches added at Haywards Heath from Eastbourne and these sections normally have tons of empty seats. Going in the opposite direction at night, go the front at Victoria or Clapham and you will certainly get a seat when the hords descend at East Croydon.On the whole as I said before its overall not a bad service and if you took the delays caused by seeming suicides out of the equation we have a good service with good rolling stock. tonyhotel71
  • Score: -1

6:59am Sat 16 Aug 14

Sussex jim says...

NickBrt wrote:
We should let Caroline and Jason run the trains!
They couldn't even run a bath.
[quote][p][bold]NickBrt[/bold] wrote: We should let Caroline and Jason run the trains![/p][/quote]They couldn't even run a bath. Sussex jim
  • Score: 1

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