Years of misery and rail frustration

Travellers at Brighton train station experience delays on the London line following weather and flooding-related problems at Balcombe earlier this year

People travelling during serious delays between Brighton and London Victoria and, below, bad weather earlier this year

Commuters delayed on a train from Brighton to London Victoria

First published in News by

RAIL companies operating in Sussex have the poorest levels of trust in the country, according to a survey published yesterday.

Passengers do not feel train companies are "on their side", and do not expect a good day-to-day service, truthfulness, fairness or good communication.

The three companies operating in the county were consistently in the bottom three of the survey by Passenger Focus.

It follows years of frustration for commuters who claim the rail network is the UK’s worst since at least 2011. Southern, which operates between Brighton and London, and Chichester 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 survey by Passenger Focus.

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

It was also in the bottom three for value for money and industry reputation.

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

Southeastern, which runs services between Rye and Bexhill, was second-worst to Southern, with 15 criteria in the bottom three.

First Capital Connect, which is running the Thameslink service between Brighton and Bedford until September, was rated in the bottom three ten times and the bottom five all but once.

Most South East and London operators scored poorly on trust according to the survey, which involved 4,000 passengers and about 200 customers of each operator.

Passengers have seemingly faced years of misery, with a Which? survey rating services the worst in the UK in 2013, and Passenger Focus surveys finding the same in 2012 and 2011.

Govia, part of Southern parent company Go-Ahead, will take over the Thameslink route in September.

Southern’s Sussex networks will become part of the Govia Thameslink franchise in July 2015.

Southeastern’s East Sussex franchise ends in October but are under negotiation for an extension until 2018.

Southern admitted the results were poor but blamed bad weather in January for causing network chaos and blighting passengers’ views.

The survey aimed to examine the differences in passengers’ perceptions of rail travel and the reality. But all three’s poor reputation was matched by their poor punctuality which was among the worst in the country. Southern accepted it was disappointing to score so poorly, but not wholly unexpected considering the study was carried out in January, when savage weather brought transport networks to a halt.

It said it was unable to deliver a reliable, punctual service when the survey was undertaken.

A 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 Southeastern spokeswoman said: “The result of the latest report is disappointing, but reflects our own research. We’ve already invested in new information screens at stations and we’ve made changes to our website to communicate better with passengers. However, we accept that we have more work to do in this area.”

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."

The Government said more than £38 billion would be spent over the next five years to improve the railways.

Shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh said: “Commuters in the South East have been particularly let down by incompetent ministers, who failed to introduce smart ticketing and agreed poor value franchise extensions after the West Coast fiasco.

“A Labour government will cap fares on every route, roll out smart ticketing and drive through the biggest reforms of the railways since privatisation, delivering a better deal for passengers and taxpayers.”

Comments (7)

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6:29am Mon 18 Aug 14

rogerthefish says...

On the train on Friday, just trying to get a ticket is an experiance-went on trainline.com which crashed 3 times finally got it, then a 5 min wait to pick up, then got stuck in entry to platform machine...just awful service.
On the train on Friday, just trying to get a ticket is an experiance-went on trainline.com which crashed 3 times finally got it, then a 5 min wait to pick up, then got stuck in entry to platform machine...just awful service. rogerthefish
  • Score: 4

7:50am Mon 18 Aug 14

HJarrs says...

Shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh said: “Labour will tinker a little bit, but actually change much"
Shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh said: “Labour will tinker a little bit, but actually change much" HJarrs
  • Score: 3

9:20am Mon 18 Aug 14

saveHOVE says...

Southern is trying to get away with terminating ticket offices - by stealth - I am suspecting, in order to reduce its costs. I have tweeted to them every single time (with photo of shutters) I notice the Hove Station ticket office is closed. Was pleased to see it open on Sunday afternoon when it had begun to consider this optional at best over the summer.

Visitors need information and assistance. The blind, some elderly and other disabled and non-techies need ticket offices too. Those without the small amount of money for just the ticket who do not want to risk losing a tenner (say) if the machine fails need ticket offices.

At Brighton when they did the revamp they closed the always busy ticket office in its prominent position, downgraded it hugely and buried it in a blind corner that they hope means people arrive and think the hostile bank of ugly ticket machines is all there is.

They are doing everything they need to to encourage people to use cars.

Forcing the whole world online for everything is dehumanising and unreliable (see comment from rogerthefish).
Southern is trying to get away with terminating ticket offices - by stealth - I am suspecting, in order to reduce its costs. I have tweeted to them every single time (with photo of shutters) I notice the Hove Station ticket office is closed. Was pleased to see it open on Sunday afternoon when it had begun to consider this optional at best over the summer. Visitors need information and assistance. The blind, some elderly and other disabled and non-techies need ticket offices too. Those without the small amount of money for just the ticket who do not want to risk losing a tenner (say) if the machine fails need ticket offices. At Brighton when they did the revamp they closed the always busy ticket office in its prominent position, downgraded it hugely and buried it in a blind corner that they hope means people arrive and think the hostile bank of ugly ticket machines is all there is. They are doing everything they need to to encourage people to use cars. Forcing the whole world online for everything is dehumanising and unreliable (see comment from rogerthefish). saveHOVE
  • Score: 9

10:00am Mon 18 Aug 14

saveHOVE says...

Following @SouthernRailUK on Twitter is an interesting experience. You learn a lot about the service - like how frequently over the summer they casually tweet out the fact that (in 25 degree C weather) such and such a scheduled train is being reduced from 8 carriages to 4 (rush hour and all!) due to this or that. And it seems quite a lot of their stock breaks down in service causing delays and problems.

I just get the impression a lot of corners are routinely CUT.
Following @SouthernRailUK on Twitter is an interesting experience. You learn a lot about the service - like how frequently over the summer they casually tweet out the fact that (in 25 degree C weather) such and such a scheduled train is being reduced from 8 carriages to 4 (rush hour and all!) due to this or that. And it seems quite a lot of their stock breaks down in service causing delays and problems. I just get the impression a lot of corners are routinely CUT. saveHOVE
  • Score: 4

1:34pm Mon 18 Aug 14

Bugzy84 says...

saveHOVE wrote:
Southern is trying to get away with terminating ticket offices - by stealth - I am suspecting, in order to reduce its costs. I have tweeted to them every single time (with photo of shutters) I notice the Hove Station ticket office is closed. Was pleased to see it open on Sunday afternoon when it had begun to consider this optional at best over the summer.

Visitors need information and assistance. The blind, some elderly and other disabled and non-techies need ticket offices too. Those without the small amount of money for just the ticket who do not want to risk losing a tenner (say) if the machine fails need ticket offices.

At Brighton when they did the revamp they closed the always busy ticket office in its prominent position, downgraded it hugely and buried it in a blind corner that they hope means people arrive and think the hostile bank of ugly ticket machines is all there is.

They are doing everything they need to to encourage people to use cars.

Forcing the whole world online for everything is dehumanising and unreliable (see comment from rogerthefish).
It's called technological advancement combined with capitalism, why would a business spend hundreds of thousands over 50 years for one employee when a one off payment costing a fraction can do the job, especially when it can work 24/7 and not join a union. Also claiming ignorance on how to use the machines is ridiculous, a trained chimp could do it!
Of course this will all just end up in automated systems and then no one having jobs so a majority will have no money and then the economical system collapses and then we all go tribal and kill each other.

FUN TIMES!!!!!
[quote][p][bold]saveHOVE[/bold] wrote: Southern is trying to get away with terminating ticket offices - by stealth - I am suspecting, in order to reduce its costs. I have tweeted to them every single time (with photo of shutters) I notice the Hove Station ticket office is closed. Was pleased to see it open on Sunday afternoon when it had begun to consider this optional at best over the summer. Visitors need information and assistance. The blind, some elderly and other disabled and non-techies need ticket offices too. Those without the small amount of money for just the ticket who do not want to risk losing a tenner (say) if the machine fails need ticket offices. At Brighton when they did the revamp they closed the always busy ticket office in its prominent position, downgraded it hugely and buried it in a blind corner that they hope means people arrive and think the hostile bank of ugly ticket machines is all there is. They are doing everything they need to to encourage people to use cars. Forcing the whole world online for everything is dehumanising and unreliable (see comment from rogerthefish).[/p][/quote]It's called technological advancement combined with capitalism, why would a business spend hundreds of thousands over 50 years for one employee when a one off payment costing a fraction can do the job, especially when it can work 24/7 and not join a union. Also claiming ignorance on how to use the machines is ridiculous, a trained chimp could do it! Of course this will all just end up in automated systems and then no one having jobs so a majority will have no money and then the economical system collapses and then we all go tribal and kill each other. FUN TIMES!!!!! Bugzy84
  • Score: 0

3:07pm Mon 18 Aug 14

Poem58 says...

Some people who call themselves BRING BACK BR have organised to try and do something about all these foreign businesses ruining our railways buy raising the fares to maximize profits.

From their website:

If you're angry about our rip-off privatised railways, now's the time to make a stand! Tomorrow - Tues 19 August - is our national day of action for public ownership. Please come get behind the Bring Back British Rail banner at London King's Cross Station at 8am or join our friends from Action For Rail & We Own It at stations all over the country!

http://fb.me/1gw4k9P
9u
Some people who call themselves BRING BACK BR have organised to try and do something about all these foreign businesses ruining our railways buy raising the fares to maximize profits. From their website: If you're angry about our rip-off privatised railways, now's the time to make a stand! Tomorrow - Tues 19 August - is our national day of action for public ownership. Please come get behind the Bring Back British Rail banner at London King's Cross Station at 8am or join our friends from Action For Rail & We Own It at stations all over the country! http://fb.me/1gw4k9P 9u Poem58
  • Score: -2

11:13pm Mon 18 Aug 14

tonyhotel71 says...

book on line in advance all the time and NEVER have a problem What world are these people living in??
book on line in advance all the time and NEVER have a problem What world are these people living in?? tonyhotel71
  • Score: 0

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