Commuters bemoan lack of seats as operators hit rock bottom – again

    Train passengers in Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge are serviced by the nation’s worst two rail companies, according to a new survey.

    The study, conducted by consumer magazine Which? found that Southeastern and Southern were the lowest rated operators in the UK, with overall satisfaction scores of 31 and 21 per cent respectively.

    The best service was Merseyrail, which operates between Liverpool and Chester. It received a satisfaction score of 72 per cent.

    The results for Southeastern are particularly damming, as, unlike Southern, they do not have months of industrial action to stoke their passengers’ dissatisfaction.

    They received a one-star rating for seat availability, reflecting the daily experience of a cramped commute in and out of London.

    In all other categories, including punctuality, frequency and standing space a two star rating was given.

    Southern, which runs services from both Tonbridge and Crowborough, received the lowest score possible in all but two categories, heaping further misery on the much beleaguered service.

    The figures come after Southeastern routes into London from Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge were named two of the most expensive commutes in the UK.

    And in the most recent National Rail Passenger Survey in June, Southeastern was ranked joint last with Southern when it came to value for money.

    John Reynolds from passenger group Tonbridge Line Commuters said that the trains in and out are ‘very crowded, especially around 8 – 8.30am’. He added that due to upcoming housing developments ‘the problem is likely to get worse’ therefore the group would continue to ‘press Southeastern and also the Department for Transport to provide more paths for trains to and from South-West Kent’.

    A spokesperson for Southeastern said: “We understand passengers’ concerns about the availability of seats on our trains, which stands out in this survey.

    “The success of our railway means we have seen passenger numbers rise by 40 per cent in the past decade, but we have had no extra trains or carriages since 2009. That’s why we’re working closely with the Department for Transport to bring additional trains to our network.”

    The survey gathered responses in October and November 2016, with 480 passengers asked for their views across the two franchises. Over 8,000 people were surveyed nationally.

    Both Southern and Southeastern owned by parent company Govia, a joint venture by the UK-based Go Ahead Group and Keolis, a European operator which is mostly owned by the French Government.