Boosting the future ambition of South Eastern train services

06 April 2017

Passengers on Britain’s fourth largest franchise are calling for a service they can depend on in the new franchise in 2018.

Today, the independent transport watchdog, Transport Focus, is making the case for a better deal for Kent, East Sussex and south east London passengers when the new South Eastern franchise begins.

In the latest research, commuters told Transport Focus they want more punctual, reliable services with enough room to sit and stand. When things go wrong passengers want the next franchise operator to deal with delays more effectively.

Off-peak passengers are calling for cleaner, more comfortable trains, improved facilities at stations and visible, helpful and empowered staff.

With commuters making up two-thirds of the demand, and most travelling into London in peak hours, Transport Focus is eager to see how future bidders for the franchise deal with passengers’ concerns about getting a seat. Commuters in London and the South East, who face particular challenges just getting on to trains, say their main concern is space to board the train and stand in safety and comfort.

While High Speed passengers perceive their service as a premium product they expect to see improvements like Wi-Fi included as part of the service. Providing an adequate number of carriages with a layout that meets the range of needs of all passengers travelling across the South Eastern network is also an important requirement for the new franchise.

Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said:

“Time and time again Southeastern passengers tell us they want to see trains running more reliably. Passengers are frustrated with the lack of quality, accurate information during disruption to services. When things go wrong passengers want better information. They want the company to take ownership and staff to be able to provide help and assistance. They want answers to: how long will the delay last? When will the next train run? What alternatives are there?

“We welcome the Secretary of State for Transport’s ambition set out in the recent consultation. As with other franchises, we will be looking for innovation in modern ways to buy tickets and improved compensation when things go wrong. This is a great opportunity to boost the quality of South Eastern passengers’ experience of their railway.”



Transport Focus research, South Eastern rail franchise: what passengers want, can be found here.

Transport Focus will now work with the Department for Transport to ensure the franchise reflects passengers’ needs and help prospective bidders propose ambitious and high-quality proposals.

More details on the Department for Transport South Eastern Franchise consultation can be found here.

In the most recent National Rail Passenger Survey:

  • 62 per cent of Southeastern passengers travelling in peak times were satisfied with their journey
  • 29 per cent were satisfied with how Southeastern dealt with delays
  • 40 per cent of Southeastern passengers were satisfied with usefulness of information during delays.

The National Rail Passenger Survey at a glance guide for Southeastern can be downloaded here.

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