Thursday, 13 December 2007

Keeping cool in a crisis

Thanks to all those who have taken the time to share their transport woes on the comments sections of this blog. It seems that satisfaction is not too great with the way South West Trains have handled this week’s landslide crisis. Most weeks I envy the train commuters as I crawl through the choking treacle that is Worcester Park traffic, but for this week at least I’ve been more than happy being on four wheels.

‘Anonymous’ has got in touch to relate his own particular tale of woe:

Yesterday I arrived at Stoneleigh station only to find that the train times had changed from Tuesday which meant I had just missed one. The 7.20am was then cancelled. After asking the ticket guard where and when the replacement buses were running from, he replied that he wasn't too sure what had happened to the buses or what exit they went from, or if they were even running.

After waiting for 1 hour and 30 minutes (it was freezing!) with no information about what was happening until ten minutes before it arrived, the train eventually rolled up at the same time as the replacement bus service. 45 minutes later we arrived at Waterloo.

So despite leaving home 30 minutes earlier than normal I still ended up being an hour and a half late for work. So whilst I understand that incidents such as landslips happen, I (along with everyone else stuck on the platform!) felt that the situation was very poorly managed. The guy in the ticket office obviously wasn't being told anything by the communications centre despite all the phone calls he kept trying to make. However once he did get through he was great by keeping us updated with the station the train was at.I did contact Southwest Trains to see if I could get a refund on my weekly travelcard but as the 'land slip was not their fault' they aren't obliged to give me anything.

The guy on the phone from Southwest Trains mentioned that they can't always get replacement buses when they need, or get sufficient to provide a good service. He also mentioned that the centre their employees use to get information about for Customers (train times etc) is often busy in the morning so their guards can't get through. However he was sympathetic and mentioned that he was glad it wasn't him who was getting caught up in this every day!So considering that the earliest they will fix this is Monday, I'm dreading my daily commute into London even more than usual!”

It all sounds horribly familiar from my days on the daily commute up to Waterloo. South West trains can’t be held to account for the landslide occurring, but they can for their reaction to it and the emergency arrangements put in place.

From the comments coming in to this blog, it sounds like they haven’t acquitted themselves at all well this week.