Tag Archives: trains

How SouthEastern plan to stop your trains to Charing Cross and Victoria

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As you may have heard, SouthEastern and the Department for Transport are considering innovative approaches to radically enhance your interchange opportunities.

I thought it might be worth going through their consultation document in a little more detail.

If you suspect SouthEastern trains and the DfT are off their collective rockers, there are three things you can do about it.  Let’s have a look through that lovely PDF

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Oh yes Chris, I couldn’t agree more.  I’m all ears, even though you thought it was ok for gay people to be turned away from hotels, and you blocked Sadiq Khan’s attempts to take our trains away from disastrous SouthEastern and give them to TfL.

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Yes.  Trains are not new technology.  Elon Musk can land a reusable rocket on a drone ship from space.  Trains are Victorian.  The reason they don’t work is idealogical.  They work in Europe.  They’re cheap in Europe.  They’re (mostly) nationalised in Europe.  Do you get me Chris?

In fact, SouthEastern is part of a massive transport company called Keolis part-owned by the French Government.  Just let that sink in.  Our leaders believe in market forces so strongly, that they think the best solution to out transport problems is to let a nationalised French railway company run them. In 2015, Keolis made 33 million Euros in profit, which they gave to their shareholders (70% of whom are the French government).  Not reinvested into our infrastructure, or some such bollocks.  Go-Ahead Group is the other part owner, and they made £157m in profit, up 16%.  So the French can run a profitable nationalised railway company, but we can’t, because Chris Grayling says so, and my ticket costs £1548 a year.

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This is a great idea.  Thanks to Oyster, SouthEastern and DfT know precisely where and when we get in and out of the transport network.  And do they use this data to automatically reimburse us when they’re outside their terms of service?  Not on your nelly.  But, have no fear, Chris is to the rescue!  He has an innovative plan!

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Instead of being allowed to fill out a form when your train is 30 minutes late and pop it in a post box, he has a truly 21st century solution!  He’s going to let you fill out a form when your train is 15 minutes late… Maybe…

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Oh, thank God – that’s what we’ve all been crying out for!  We don’t need cheaper tickets, no no, we want Wi-Fi!  You see, commuters don’t have mobile phones with data plans… What we really want is to give the train companies another excuse to “reinvest our money” into another pointless scheme.  Crappy non-working wifi for everyone!  And stop calling it a fleet.  Fleets are elegant, and move in formation.  Your trains don’t.

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Oh Chris… Is it complex to run your little trains?  Do you want to give us simpler opportunities?  My work is tricky too.  Maybe I’ll make it simpler and still get paid the same… That sounds lovely.  Or maybe, you know, just figure out how to get your shit together… You’ve had since the 19th century to figure it out.

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Hang on, haven’t you been messing with our journeys into London Bridge for the last TWO YEARS to solve precisely this problem?

Please make sure you go and have your say on his proposals.

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Filed under blackheath, trains

World class customer service

“Can I have two tickets from the boundary of zone three to three bridges please? I’ve got an annual gold card.”

He gives me two tickets from Blackheath, costing over £18, instead of £13.

When I question it, I’m told its because I’ve only got one annual gold card.

“But my wife has one too- she’s travelling with me!”

“If I can’t see it, you can’t have it. It’s policy”.

So I cancelled both tickets, go and get my wife’s card, and finally buy the correct tickets.

Why can’t I choose the start and end location of any ticket I choose to purchase? With a single annual gold card, I’m entitled to up to three off peak discounted tickets if the other people are travelling with me.

We pay £2,800 a year to the train companies to be treated like criminals.

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The gravy train continues

As you may recall, I had a lovely £50 voucher from my last disastrous long distance train journey. As I could only redeem it in a station, I checked the prices on Monday morning using thetrainline (£150), then popped over to the station on Tuesday to purchase the tickets.

Guess what? They’d gone up by £50 overnight.

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The gravy train

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You remember the little bit of wind we had a couple of weeks ago? All the train companies in the South East switched to emergency timetables just in case, and havoc ensued. My train was massively late, so I filled in the Delay Repay form on the Nationalised French Rail Operator’s website.

Of course, it’s not really the nationalised French rail operator. I mean, we all know that free markets win out, and that the railway companies in the UK were privatised, so how could that possibly be true?

Except that it kind of is. Your season ticket for £1,424 goes to SouthEastern. SouthEastern are owned by Govia. Govia are owned by the Go-Ahead Group (65%) and Keolis (35%). And Keolis (keep up at the back) is majority owned by SNCF, the French equivalent of what used to be British Rail.

I’ve just paid £1,424 for a season ticket – that’s more than most people pay for a month’s rent in London. Then I receive a token for £1.10, which I can ONLY redeem with SouthEastern trains, and will be valid for exactly 12 months. It’s not even redeemable online.

How is this going to encourage the only train company that I use regularly to improve its service? In the notoriously left-wing rag City A.M., Alister Heath laments:

There is sadly mass support for nationalisation and price controls

There is also huge support for the nationalisation of the railways, at 66-23; again, not surprising given the weird public-private mish-mash that characterises the industry, the subsidies, the lack of transparency and accountability (who is in charge? Network Rail? The train firm?), the awful service and the lack of choice. We need a new deal for our railways – but state ownership was a disaster during the decades when it was tried.

Here’s the full YouGov poll.

Yes Alistair, it was a catastrophe… Except that Britain now has the most expensive fares in Europe, says the Telegraph.

The Go-Ahead Group (such a dumb name) which Southeastern is part of, made pre-tax profits of £82 million last year, and proposed to give a share dividend to investors of 81p per share. They’re doing just fine.

Keolis, the French part of South Eastern, made profits of 287m Euro in 2012.

Our rail system was a national asset. The market for rail companies isn’t working for anyone except its shareholders, more than 30% of which in our neck of the woods is now owned by the French government, and run for a profit, which is extracted from your pocket, into the French government’s.

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Blackheath commuters! You need this!

If you have an iPhone and you use public transport in London, you need this app:
http://citymapper.com/

(Update: There’s an Android version too)

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Filed under geek, transport

If you have a season ticket on your oyster card

Very useful information, via Diamond Geezer:

This guide shows you how to get a third off any single off-peak rail travel using your oystercard, if you already have a 16-25 Railcard, Disabled Railcard, a Gold Card, HM Forces Railcard, or a Senior Railcard.

But you have to go and ask a human being for it, in a station. Which is daft… It’s almost like they don’t want you to use it!

I love the fact that the guide includes step-by-step button-pushing instructions for the station staff.

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Filed under transport

Why I’m voting for Ken

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newt
Every day through London, I take the train and the tube. I see almost everyone reading free papers – The Metro or the Evening Standard. And almost every day I look over their shoulders and spot a pro-Boris or anti-Ken story.

The London Mayor’s main role is effectively that of a transport tzar. I’ve never seen Boris on public transport. That is to say, I’ve seen him on TV on public transport… But I’ve never actually seen him using it to get from A to B on his own, when a camera wasn’t on him. Maybe he does, maybe our paths never cross. But I’ve seen Ken. On his own. With an umbrella on the tube. More than once.

This reason, coupled with the price-rises for the poorest attitude of Boris, makes me think that Ken can’t be a worse option. Plus I feel sorry for him over the alliterative bicycles.

So I’m voting Ken. And this blog is the tiny mouthpiece I have to tell you about it, as I’m not an oligarch, and can’t afford to own a free newspaper. I can take some small comfort from the fact that a few thousand people will read this as a counterbalance, even though I’m still not sure why you’re all here. Thanks.

PS – Some reasons to vote Boris here.

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Filed under blackheath, politics