Recent analysis has shown that Southeastern was one the quickest train companies in refunding customers following the announcement of lockdown, processing more than double the value of season ticket refunds than all but one other train operator in the first eight weeks of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Southeastern received more than 35,000 requests for season ticket refunds – amounting to a 700% increase for a normal four-week period.
At the peak of the virus, Southeastern received 16,404 contacts in one four-week period, with all cases being responded to within 16 working days, and the average time taken being just six days.
By June this had fallen to an average response time of four working days, and is now currently at an average of half a working day. The industry’s standard time-frame is within 28 days, and was extended to 56 days due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Additional time is needed to make a payment to the passenger – typically this is within 14 days and in some cases with three days.
Other highlights included:
- More than 400 customer service calls being answered every day
- Answering 12,427 customer service calls during the four-week period at the peak of Covid-19 outbreak
- Maintaining a 24/7 service for customers throughout the Covid-19 outbreak, with many staff working from home
- Maintaining an average phone waiting time of just over a minute during the busiest period - this fell to less than 30 seconds by June and is now currently less than 10 seconds.
Better information about toilet availability
Further customer improvements being implemented this month include improved information on toilet availability. Southeastern is the first train operator to automatically display information about the availability of toilets on-board services on customer information screens, in conjunction with passenger announcements, which will be made if some or all toilets on-board specific services are out of operation.
This information will also be displayed on the Southeastern app and journey planner in the coming weeks, allowing people to make an informed choice before boarding trains, in the event that some or all toilets are out of operation.
Better information about lift availability
Customer Information Screens will also display information alerting passengers if lifts are out of order on any of the stations which a specific train service is scheduled to stop. This will be included in pre-departure passenger announcements, particularly benefiting passengers with accessibility needs.
Southeastern’s safer journey pledge
The safety of our customers and staff remains our priority. Southeastern’s safer journey pledge means that we are taking extra steps to keep our customers safe at this exceptional time:
- More trains and extra carriages in timetables – to make extra room and help with social distancing
- New social distancing signs – so people know where to go, encouraging passengers to stay 2 metres apart where possible and avoiding pinch points
- Powerful fog cleaning on trains – with trains and stations cleaned more frequently through the day
- Soap restocked more often in stations and on trains – so it’s easier to keep your hands virus-free
- Vending machines for face coverings and hand sanitiser - at key stations making it easier for passengers to buy what they need
- Hand sanitiser points at stations – helping protect people from the virus
- New service on Messenger app alerting people to busy trains – look up National Rail on Messenger to get started
- Extra staff available at key locations – to help passengers on their way
We’re also encouraging passengers to travel safer by:
- Travelling at quieter times – keep distance wherever possible and avoiding the busiest times
- Wash your hands – carry hand sanitiser and wash hands before and after your journey
- Bring a face covering – wear it throughout your journey, but remember that hidden disabilities and medical conditions mean not everyone can
- Check before you travel – visit co.uk before setting off and sign up for alerts on the Messenger app
You can find out more about our safer journey pledge and our advice on travelling during the Covid-19 outbreak, here on our dedicated webpage.