We want to update you on what has been happening at Southeastern in recent weeks. As you will have seen there’s been substantial focus from the industry and its stakeholders on the consultation on the future of ticket offices of which more below. But as that goes on, we are continuing to work towards a better, more reliable, and sustainable railway. I have set out below our recent progress.
Ticket Office Consultation
Southeastern is committed to openness and transparency and genuine good faith consultation on the future of ticket offices. In that light, following dialogue with several groups and individuals, including those representing customers with accessibility needs, it’s been decided to extend the ticket office consultation from three to eight weeks. The consultation will now conclude on 1 September 2023.
We are also committed to providing information in a wider range of formats, to ensure the consultation is accessible and people and organisations responding to it can be as fully informed as possible. It is hoped this will give as many people as possible the chance to understand and respond to this consultation and in a way that works for them.
Southeastern is currently consulting on the future of 40 ticket offices in the Pay As You Go area where most people travel using tap in tap out technology. Equality Impact Assessments, future staffing hours and station by station information is available on our website.
To support effective consultation, Southeastern has previously committed to consulting on the future of ticket offices in two phases so people have a meaningful opportunity to respond to local issues. It is planned that the next phase of consultation will take place later this year. This will consider the future of ticket offices on the remainder of our railway, including the upgrade of some ticket offices to Travel Centres, which will sell the full range of retail products currently available in ticket offices, but in an environment which is more welcoming to customers.
Responses to our current consultation should be sent to London TravelWatch, who together with Transport Focus, have received around 170,000 responses so far.
Our aim is to deliver a better, safer, and more accessible railway at a lower cost to the taxpayer. We believe this is possible if we review the roles and locations of our people, embrace technology for customers who wish to self-serve and provide better support for customers who need it.
Train service performance
In July, we saw improved performance following a dip in June. We sadly saw four fatalities in a six-day period and numerous incidents of trespass and concern for welfare with vulnerable people on our railway.
In terms of reliability, cancellations at Southeastern in Period 4 (25 June – 22 July) were 1.9% compared to the industry average of 3.3%. Our reliability remains unambiguously better than the industry average.
Punctuality in Period 4 (25 June – 22 July) also got better: 70.3% of trains arrived within 59 seconds of their advertised time, again above the industry average of 69.8%. This is an improvement on the previous period and closer to punctuality levels achieved in April and May. In the same period, almost 88% of trains arrived within three minutes and almost 99% of trains arrived within 15 minutes, both of which are again better than the industry average.
Our customer satisfaction score increased to 86% and fewer customers experienced a delay.
Improving performance on Southeastern
We are dedicated to providing you with the most reliable service possible. Our Joint Performance Strategy for 2023-24, published by Southeastern and Network Rail, demonstrates this commitment. If you would like to know more about what we’re doing to improve performance, you can download our performance strategy here.
Kent’s first new railway station in eight years, Thanet Parkway, will open to passengers on 31 July, improving rail connectivity between East Kent, London, and the wider region by providing access to mainline and highspeed train services (see images below). As a special introductory offer, customers will also be offered free parking at the station from the opening day for a limited time.
Thanet Parkway is a modern, accessible self-serve station, with all train services having on-board staff should assistance be required. The station is fully enabled for e-ticketing and has all the facilities our customers would expect from a brand-new station, such as lifts and stairs access to each platform, ticket vending machines, waiting shelters, seating and passenger help points to provide remote assistance. Acoustic barriers have also been installed to absorb any noise impact and provide privacy for lineside neighbours once train services start operating from the station. See more details here.
Located between Ramsgate and Minster, Thanet Parkway station will boost the local and wider Kent economy by supporting connections to new housing and new business and job opportunities, particularly at surrounding business parks in Thanet and Dover, as well as supporting the area’s leisure and tourism industry. The journey time to St Pancras is circa 70 minutes on our highspeed services.
The ASLEF union recently announced further overtime bans between 31 July–5 August and 7–12 August. These will be the fourth and fifth weeklong ASLEF overtime bans since mid-May. We plan to operate a full service during this period, as we have done during the previous overtime bans, so there is no impact on our customers.
The RMT union has also announced strike action on Saturday 29 July. If this goes ahead:
- We expect to be able to run a limited service on our three Metro routes from Dartford to London Bridge, from Sevenoaks to London Bridge, from Bromley South to Victoria, on the Bromley North branch and from Ramsgate to St Pancras via Ashford on our high-speed routes.
- 58 of 180 stations will be open.
- No replacement buses will serve stations that are closed.
See below a network map of the services we will operate on RMT strike days between 07:00-19:00.
Our teams continue to work hard every day to deliver a better, more reliable, and sustainable railway.
Meet the Manager
We know that listening to customers is really important: on 20 July, we held a ‘Meet the Manager’ event at London Cannon Street station where senior managers were on-hand to hear and respond to the issues our customers most care about. Our next event will be an online trial using WhatsApp on 14 September in the evening peak. Holding the event online will make it easier for customers with accessibility needs to participate.
Rollout of barcode readers and e-ticketing is complete
AS part of our strategy to help customers self serve who are happy to do so, barcode or e-tickets for all journeys have now been enabled across our network (e.g., Lewisham to Margate). This will help reduce queuing and save time for many customers. There are now 140,000 e-ticket journeys a week on our network and we expect this number to grow rapidly. We are also working towards introducing sTickets (digital season tickets) and expect to launch these for use by customers by the end of this year.
Southeastern Apprenticeship scheme and Triple Gold Status
Southeastern’s apprenticeship programme has been awarded the Gold Standard by respected workplace performance assessors, Investors in People. We are now one of only three large employers in the country to hold gold in three areas of assessment:
- We Invest in People.
- We Invest in Wellbeing.
- We Invest in Apprentices.
The overall experience of apprentices has been rated as exceptional as part of this process, with high satisfaction rates and a strong commitment to the programme throughout the organisation. Just last month, Southeastern was also listed in the top 100 Apprenticeship Employers, which underlines our commitment to developing our people.
Armed Forces Covenant
We are delighted to have received the Employer Recognition Scheme Silver Award for our positive work to welcome and support members of the Armed Forces community at Southeastern. We signed the Armed Forces Covenant last October, on the centenary of the unveiling of the war memorial at Dover Port dedicated to the workers from the South Eastern and Chatham Railway who gave their lives in World War One. Now, only seven months after that, we have progressed from the bronze to the silver award, putting us in the top 20% of employers nationally.
Tackling Anti-social behaviour
As part of our commitment to making our railway safer for customers and colleagues, we have invested in extra Security Industry Authority (SIA) trained staff at 19 of our stations to tackle anti-social behaviour. Since having these staff in place seven days a week from last October, we have seen a 42% reduction in reported theft, vagrancy, and graffiti. We have also seen a significant change to how incidents of anti-social behaviour have been managed resulting in:
- 137% increase in incidents being defused.
- 116% increase in passengers being physically removed.
- 77% increase in passengers being refused travel.
- 25% increase in passengers being arrested by Police.
Margate station café restoration
We recently completed a heritage restoration of the café at Margate station. Whilst undertaking works in the café to the suspended ceiling, we discovered hidden above it, the full extent of the magnificent architecture in this area. Damaged in places and covered in old smoking grime, we contacted the Railway Heritage Trust and Network Rail who both contributed funding to uncover and restore this space to its original splendour. See the pictures below.
Our new summer timetable has been well received by many customers with additional peak trains on the Sidcup line and off-peak services on the Bexleyheath line. We are now operating around 1700 trains each weekday.
During May to September, we will also operate our ‘summer plan’. As part of this, we will be running extra trains to the coast during the school summer holidays from 24 July until 1 September.
The extra departure will run on weekdays leaving Victoria at 09:22; it will call at Lewisham, Blackheath, Charlton, Woolwich Arsenal, Plumstead, Abbey Wood, Slade Green, Dartford, Greenhithe for Bluewater, Gravesend, Strood, Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham, Faversham and onto the coast, Whitstable, Herne Bay, Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate.
Southeastern has also added more seaside trains at weekends from Victoria running every half an hour until Friday 1 September, as well as extra trains from Cannon Street and London Bridge at weekends – including in the return direction.
Customers travelling from London St Pancras will be on the beach in super quick time thanks to Southeastern’s high speed service.
Thank you for your continued engagement and support. We look forward to continuing the conversation as we strive to build a better, more reliable, and sustainable railway while balancing customer demand and the need to spend taxpayers’ money wisely.