The Managing Director of Southeastern rail, David Statham, has apologised to commuters over the company’s poor performance after it scored second worst in the country for rail passenger satisfaction.
His comments came as passengers across the network faced delays of up to two hours last week when engineering work overran.
Many of them have added their names to a 15,000-strong petition calling for the ﬁ rm to be stripped of its franchise.
Commuters made their views clear in the latest National Passenger Survey in which Southeastern scored 75 per cent passenger satisfaction; 5 per cent ahead of the poorest performing, Southern, with a 70 per cent rating.
Mr Statham conceded a number of delays ‘were within its gift’ to resolve, with incidents blamed on sunlight obstructing drivers’ views, ice on the lines and a revamp of London Bridge station.
He said: “I’m sorry that over the past three or four weeks we have not given people the service that they expect, as there have been a number of significant issues such as a landslip on the Hastings line.
“Southeastern, as a train operator, looks after trains and passengers and we work really hard to address delays caused by factors within our gift and to improve the reliability of our trains. We are also working hard with Network Rail to improve reliability to the infrastructure that our trains use and run on, which they look after.”
The company has now said it intends to challenge Network Rail over the maintenance of the region’s track.
A spokesperson for Southeastern said: “Around 70 per cent of all delays are down to infrastructure problems and we are challenging Network Rail to ensure that its asset maintenance programme is fit for purpose.”
Network Rail has disputed the causes of disruption over the past few months. According to its figures, only 26 per cent of delays were down to failures in its line infrastructure or problems with stations. However, other Network Rail data reportedly showed that Southeastern caused 33 per cent of hold-ups, with Network Rail being responsible for 62 per cent of issues.
Network Rail’s area director, Paul Rutter, said: “We are working hard on the reliability of our equipment and we have plans in place to continue to improve it. The very busy nature of the railway in South London and Kent means the impact of any problems we do have will be significant.”