Rail companies looking after track and trains in south east London, Kent and East Sussex today (30 June 2016) spoke about the improvements they are making to enhance rail passengers’ journeys.
Network Rail, which looks after track, signals and other railway infrastructure, and Southeastern, which runs the trains, spoke out as the latest National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) figures were published.
Watch a video on this from Southeastern Managing Director David Statham and Network Rail’s Route Managing Director Alasdair Coates -
During the time the survey was undertaken, between January 11 and March 20, a number of factors hindered the overall quality of the service.
In particular, there was the partial collapse of the sea wall at Dover – scissoring part of the network – and landslides at Barnehurst, which closed a main line into London for nearly a week. Storm Imogen also hit services and there were infrastructure failings around London Bridge – which is undergoing a complete rebuild.
Since then, Southeastern and Network Rail have brought about important improvements which have helped provide a better service for passengers.
These include Network Rail concentrating resources on the eight miles of track between Charing Cross and Lewisham where 42 per cent of all delays caused by infrastructure problems occur. This is not just because there are more failures, but because this stretch of the railway is so busy.
In addition, Southeastern - which is already part way through investing £70 million on improvements to its network – started extra initiatives this week aimed at increasing punctuality, enhancing stations and managing disruption more effectively.
For example, Southeastern is increasing the number of standby crews it has in key places on the network to get trains running quicker during times of major disruption.
All stations will have been repainted by next month, better toilet facilities are being put in place, and more seating and shelters will be provided on platforms.
Southeastern and Network Rail’s joint Kent Integrated Control Centre – which manages how trains run daily - is having resources boosted and more is being spent on improving real time information. This follows already putting in place more information screens, more frontline staff with technology giving them up to date details on services and an in-house 24/7 Twitter team so people can speak to a Southeastern employee wherever they are, at any time of the day or night.
David Statham, Managing Director of Southeastern, said: “The latest National Rail Passenger Survey figures are a snap shot of a very difficult period for Southeastern passengers last winter.
“The survey was undertaken during the winter months when severe weather and infrastructure issues meant we were not able to give our passengers the services we want to provide and that they rightfully expect.
“Together with Network Rail, our job is to improve reliability, and I want to reassure our passengers that is what we are completely focused on. We have worked very closely with Network Rail to bring about a number of improvements since then. These include investing in more frontline employees and in track infrastructure in the areas where major disruption is most likely to occur.”
Network Rail’s route managing director Alasdair Coates added: “Network Rail and Southeastern are working together to improve performance on one of the busiest parts of the UK’s railway network. We have made excellent progress since last winter and I’m pleased to say our infrastructure, including track and signalling, is now more reliable and train services are improving every day.”