A PACKED commuter train arrived on time on only 25% of its journeys for a whole year.
The 7.32am service from Brighton Station to London Bridge was on time only 64 times out of 264 attempts from March 2014 to March 2015.
In total 17,309 trains from Brighton were a combined 1,194 hours late arriving at London Bridge throughout the year and Sussex commuters described the situation as “dire”.
The figures were released by rail watchdog Delay Repay Sniper and show trains returning from London Bridge to Brighton were also more than 1,000 hours late over the same period.
Rail companies admitted there has been a “decline in performance” but said they are committing millions in investment to help improve service on the Brighton mainline.
Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, said: “Passengers are being routinely failed by delayed trains and pitiful, convoluted compensation systems.
“We need better compensation, vastly simplified processes and rail companies must be made to pay out for repeat disruption, too.”
Train companies currently receive £14 million in automatic pay outs from Network Rail as the track provider is responsible for the delays.
And the government has announced a pilot scheme to help improve compensation for rail passengers.
The plans would see commuters receiving just 3p compensation for every minute their train was over two minutes late up to the 30 minute mark – when they would receive half their fare back, as the system is now.
Simon Kirby, MP for Brighton Kemp Town, said: “I will be contacting ministers at the Department for Transport to ask them to look into bringing this trial to both Thameslink and Southern services along the Brighton Main Line, as passengers should be able to receive appropriate compensation promptly and conveniently when the service they receive falls below acceptable standards.”
Manuel Cortes, general secretary of TSSA, dismissed the government’s plans as “political spin” and said “nothing will change”.
The union has previously called for a review to be launched into delay repay schemes to better compensate passengers.
A spokesman for Southern Rail said: “Historically, a combination of problems that are out of our control such as infrastructure issues, trespass incidents and bad weather and failings on our part all play a part in producing poor performance, especially when a small incident can have huge knock-on effect on what is the busiest stretch of railway in the country.”
Thameslink and Southern Railway introduced revised timetables yesterday to help improve peak services in and out of London Bridge.
A spokesman for Thameslink said: “We know passengers have endured delayed services on the hugely congested Brighton Main Line and, with Network Rail and Southern we’re determined to put this right.
“Our improvement plan is beginning to pay dividends on Thameslink with more than 82% of trains now arriving within five minutes of their scheduled arrival time but there is a long way to go.”
• Reality of the morning commute
BREAKING the routine of the morning bus ride I headed down to Brighton Station to brave one of the country’s busiest commuter routes.
The station was predictably busy but buying a ticket was relatively painless aside from the stinging £50 price-tag for a peak-time return ticket for London Bridge.
I suppose I should be thankful it was a one off and I did not have to fork out more than £4,408 for a season ticket. Climbing aboard the 7.32am train I managed to get a seat and the commuters I spoke to even described the morning’s train as unusually quiet. I got lucky.
The journey started off well as the train peeled away from the platform on time and without incident.
As the service hurtled its way across Sussex my immediate thoughts were simply “what is all the fuss about” as the whole journey felt very straightforward.
The train began to fill up as it made its typical stops and more commuters flooded on.
From someone who is used to braving the school-run bus journey from London Road to the top of Hollingbury, the whole thing felt pretty serene. But the people I spoke to who suffer the journey daily had a different story to tell.
The suited workers told of how they face hours of delays every week as they take a gamble on when they are going to get to work and when they are going to get home.
With the trains in both the morning and evening normally packed and more often than not late – many commuters were more than happy to tell me about the miseries they have to face every day.
Some told me they even opt to skip their breaks so they can clock off early to avoid the evening rush hour and guarantee they get home at a reasonable time.
I was talking to commuters when the first problems on the service began to materialise as the train began to trundle into central London.We stopped for a good few minutes and then slowly edged our way into London Bridge – arriving ten minutes late.
Stepping off the train I negotiated the work-narrowed platforms as the commuters shuffled their way towards the electronic barriers.
While I had the fortune of having a relatively quiet morning, the problems the smaller platforms could cause was obvious as hundreds of people tried to make their way to work – some probably rushing to meet their connection.
Reaching the concourse it was my time to turn around and go back but then I encountered another problem – lack of information.
As I waited for the train back to Brighton the minutes ticked away but still there was nothing on the giant displays saying which platform the service would be pulling into.
Slightly anxious, it was now one minute from my train and yet there was still no information – but luckily I spied the Southern train arriving late on the other side of the barrier.
As I had stood waiting there was nothing to indicate the train would be arriving late and if it had arrived at a different platform I would have been running around like a headless chicken.
But I made the train and headed back– arriving another ten minutes late back into Brighton Station.
Five minutes here or fifteen minutes there all begin to add up and when you have to make the trip day-in day-out you can understand why commuters feel so miffed.
The problems are made worse as commuters feel there is nothing they can do as they fork out thousands but must endure a service which only delivers what it promises 25% of the time.