Attracting Rail Passengers – how not to do it!

20 September 2010

Three stories that emerged last month prove, according to ASLEF general secretary Keith Norman, that ‘customer care’ in many rail companies is more of a joke than a provision. ‘When rail was privatised and franchising introduced, one excuse was that the private sector would be ‘much more responsive to customer needs’. That notion has now firmly been laid to rest.’

  • Southern has decided to run an old fleet of 313s to ‘improve capacity’ along the hour-and-a-half Portsmouth to Brighton line – despite the fact that they do not have toilet facilites. Rail watchdog Passenger Focus understated its case when it branded the decision ‘a blow’ for the elderly, people with medical conditions and those travelling with children. ‘It’s not a blow – it’s a deterrent to taking the train,’ said Keith. ‘And its sole aim is to squeeze more revenue.’

    Due to be introduced in December, Southern say the new trains will have a ‘refreshed interior’ including new seats and flooring. ‘How long will they stay pristine if there are no loos on the train?’ demanded the ASLEF general secretary.
  • Meanwhile a couple had to pay a £114 fine after getting off a train two stops early! Emma Clark and Davyd Winter-Bates were travelling to Southampton from London with South West Trains when they decided to get off two stops early at Eastleigh. They were each fined £57 for failing to stay on the train!
  • And CrossCountry has been fined by the Department of Transport for not implementing Wifi on its services. This was a specific commitment in their franchise and a date had been agreed, but the company failed to meet it.

‘At least it seems like some form of equality,’ Keith Norman says. ‘Rail companies are as dismissive about business passengers as they are about private travellers!’

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