The petition to take the rail franchise away from Southeastern has hit nearly 17,000 signatures, in the same week that new figures showed the town’s commuters are among the least satisfied in Britain.
Research by Which? shows only 46 per cent of Southeastern train travellers are happy with the service. While Southern Rail achieved a score of 48 percent in the poll of 6,986 passengers.
Southeastern also saw one of the biggest drops on record for punctuality. It fell from 91 percent last year to 83 percent in January.
Nearly half of unhappy passengers (46 percent) also want to see more carriages at peak times and 37 percent said the toilets need to be cleaner.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd, said: “Our report shows that commuters are getting a raw deal from their train operator. Whether it’s dirty facilities on the train, overcrowding or delayed trains, it is clear operators need to up their game.
“Rail operators need to do much more to treat their customers fairly, providing better information and access to compensation when passengers are delayed. Passengers want to see action taken to make rail delay refunds easier, and we have asked the regulator to investigate using our super-complaint powers.”
A Southeastern spokesman said: “While the Which? report questioned fewer passengers than the recent National Rail Passenger Survey – which shows our overall customer satisfaction rate at 75 percent – both clearly indicate we have much more to do.
“We’re part way through a £70 million investment programme, refurbishing our trains and stations, providing more front line employees for passengers, improving customer service training, and providing more real time information during journeys.
“The NRPS survey showed passengers have noticed, as satisfaction in these areas has risen, but punctuality is the key driver of satisfaction for most. Along with Network Rail, who look after railway infrastructure such as track and signalling, we’re working hard to improve punctuality and minimise delays.
“In regards to compensation, we actively promote the Delay Repay scheme online, by social media such as Twitter, in media announcements, and on station posters. This pays compensation to anyone whose journey was delayed by 30 minutes or more. This is set as part of our franchise agreement with the Department for Transport.”
Which? launched a campaign to ‘make rail refunds easier’ in December to tackle the issues with the compensation arrangements for delayed rail passengers. A super-complaint was made to the rail regulator, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), asking them to investigate and make recommendations for changes to improve the system for passengers.
Which? is also submitting a dossier of passenger case studies to the ORR detailing the poor conditions faced by rail passengers and their support for our campaign. Which? will be joined by MPs at selected rail stations to promote the campaign to commuters, and give information on how to claim when delayed.
And don’t wait to be compensated:
Which? also found that 64 per cent of those delayed for 30 minutes or more weren’t informed about their rights when the delay occurred. Only 34% of those who could be entitled actually made a compensation claim.