Coulsdon commuters deserve much more than compensation

Charlie King CoulsdonCROYDON COMMENTARY: Offering refunds to Southern Rail passengers does nothing to improve the dreadful service endured by the forgotten commuters of Coulsdon South, says CHARLES KING

Rather than resolving the problems faced daily by Croydon commuters travelling to and from London, Paul Maynard the rail minster, has offered long-suffering train passengers the “gesture” of a month’s rebate on next year’s season ticket.

Southern trainThis indicates to me that the problem of delays, cancellations and skip stopping is to continue into 2018.

To date nothing has been said about those poorer passengers who travel on a regular basis using Oyster, pay-as-you-go or contactless cards, unless they have registered a season ticket on them. These passengers have been equally inconvenienced as those who will be able to claim their rebates, yet they are unlikely to receive any such compensation.

Yet there is a system operated by Transport for London which can tell you every journey that you have made (or tried to make) since registering your Oyster card.

Although I welcome the gesture of the refund, it should be paid equally to those that live in London and use Oyster. Yet what is it going to do to resolve the problems which continue to plague commuters each day?

I put in special plea for Coulsdon South, which has more cancellations, delayed trains and skip stopping (where trains, often unannounced, simply by-pass a station they were scheduled to stop at) than any other of the 16 stations in Croydon. Coulsdon South is the sixth busiest station in Croydon. On strike days it has fewer trains than any other station in Croydon, with a train at 05.38 and then a few trains between 10.30am and 4.30pm and two in the evening around 7pm. And on most strike days, most of these are cancelled.

Neglected, abandoned and forgotten: Coulsdon South Station, and its passengers, deserve better

Neglected, abandoned and forgotten: Coulsdon South Station, and its passengers, deserve better

On non-strike days, it is common to have consecutive cancellations by both Southern and Thameslink at Coulsdon South with no service for more than two hours.

The worst to date is seven consecutive cancellations, with no service for three and a half hours while many other train sail through the station, leaving Coulsdon residents forgotten on the platform. Yet they have paid as much, and often more, for their rail transport as many other passengers, and yet are subjected to a service that is often non-existent.

Local stations are supposed to be staffed first to last train, yet at Coulsdon South they are frequently unstaffed and the barriers left open, with ticket machines that are not working.

And there’s worse. We have promised replacement buses failing to turn up, and CIS displays on stations either not working or clearly displaying wrong information.

The Secretary of State tells us that there is an issue between Govia Thameslink and the rail unions. Govia Thameslink say they are following Department for Transport orders in their contract. Why doesn’t Department for Transport let Govia Thameslink resolve the issue if the dispute is between them and the unions?

What passengers really want is for published service to run according to timetable, stopping at its designated stops, and providing adequate carriages for the passengers expected.

And they don’t local stations like Coulsdon south unfairly singled out for worse treatment than other stations.

  • Charles King is the chairman of the East Surrey transport committee

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