Saturday, 20 September 2014

Southeastern Renew rail franchise

Well this is a sticky wicket.

Firstly I should say that for those of you who don't regularly read my blog will know that when it comes to rail travel and the EXTORTIONATE amount of time and money I throw at the railway system, I am apolitical on this subject.

No party, no government is innocent in the journey that has led to this day.

However I'm.... happy with the final decision that has led to Southeastern having their contract renewed.

Perhaps happy is too strong a word. However I can see the logic behind it.

I first read about it on Tracey Crouch's website and had mixed feelings.

On the one side I will continue to put up with dirty trains (seriously I got on a train last Saturday morning and it had Metros from Friday on most of the seats!), overcrowding, cramp caused by lack of leg room, lateness, congestion and absent staff,

Then as I read the release from Tracey's office the more I thought about some of the issues.

Congestion can't be helped at London bridge, especially if there is a broken down train or signal cockup.

With absent staff, can you blame them? The way that commuters speak to staff when something goes wrong would make me want to backslide into an office when things start going badly.

I commute on a busy railway line to London and travel at peak time so I can't really complain about the business. Even if they were to throw on a couple more carriages or compromised more leg room for more seats then they wouldn't get many more of us sitting down though if they got rid of First class....

The other things are bearable. Sort of.

I can understand that Southeastern are aware of the London Bridge transformation and it makes sense that they continue. It is going to be chaotic enough let alone bringing in a completely new company which will still be wet behind the ears when the brown stuff hits the fan.

I also like that the Government are forcing Southeastern to invest money into the network in various different ways - its all on Tracey's website, it is late and there's no need in me repeating it all - and the fares will be frozen in "real terms"


But they are going up by the rate of inflation and as my wages are being frozen yet again (some 4 years in a row) I'm going to be paying 25% of my take home... Great...

I did read an opposition point of view on it on Tristan Osborne's blog and there are areas which I disagree with. To be honest Connex were crap and things are getting safer and the rolling stock has improved but the escalator that Labour put in has really made rail travel the reserve of the richer.

I do not see HS1 as a victory for the average commuter.

I mean it is great for when I go to visit my sister in Newark as I can cut around London and walk to Kings Cross but it is of bugger all use to me when I work in South London, it also means my old fast train to Victoria (which used to be 45 minutes) now takes longer as it has to stop at additional stations (Meopham and Longfield) because it was faster than the HS1 into London....

It is also too expensive for a regular journey (especially if you factor on the 30 minute tube journey)...

Any way I'm getting side tracked.

Either way I'm screwed. All I can do is try and smile and hope that the optimism that Tracey's PR exudes actually holds water. Things need to be improved, the prices need to be reined in and well...

The network needs a lot of things and I could sit here bitching and griping about it but I'm sure no one would care that much - well definitely no one in any of the major political parties who have long forgotten the commuters and the system we have to put up with.

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