Saturday, 27 April 2013

Travel by train and feel the strain

Yesterday I attended an event to celebrate the opening of a cafe operated by the community interest company of which I am a director.  Opportunity to meet up with friends and a have few drinks. So, rather than take the car I decided to go by train from Tunbridge Wells to Gravesend.  Big mistake.

I worked out that by catching the 10.39 train from Tunbridge Wells I would connect with a train to Gravesend at London Bridge which would arrive at my destination in good time.

However, I had not factored in the problem of buying a ticket at Tunbridge Wells station.  I refuse to use the ticket machines having had problems in the past.  I joined the queue in the ticket office, or to be precise the end of the queue outside the office, at 10.25.  By the time I paid for my ticket the 10.39 was long gone.

Only one person on duty in the ticket office.  However a second person then appeared having returned from a 'break'.  Of course staff need a break but in this instance the queue had formed behind one passenger whom it took a good ten minutes to serve.  No flexibility shown by the staff, a case of sod the passengers.

I have completed and posted a complaints form but I shall not be holding my breath in the expectation of any improvement in 'customer care' by South Eastern.

UPDATE: 16th May.

I have received a reply:

Thank you

Southeastern Customer Relations, PO Box 63428, London, SE1P 5FD

Tel: 0845 000 2222

Ref: 598288 / 465846

Dear Mr Hopkinson

Thank you for your comments card dated 26 April 2013.

I'm sorry to hear that when you travelled from Tunbridge Wells station, there was a queue at the ticket office window. I can appreciate how frustrating this would have been. Please accept my apologies for this and for the inconvenience that this caused you.

We do aim to ensure that our ticket offices are manned as advertised, so that they're able to meet expected passenger demand. At busy periods, we also expect them to do everything possible to keep queues to a minimum.

Whilst this is the case, as a commuter network, we operate a turn up and go service. This means that any passenger can turn up at anytime, at any station, purchase a ticket and join the first available train. This can mean that, despite our best efforts, there may be occasions when queues are unavoidable. It's for this reason that we do ask passengers to allow enough time before their trains due to allow them to purchase their tickets.

I can appreciate your concern about the queues on this occasion, especially as it meant that you missed your train. To ensure that the issues you've raised are fully addressed, I've brought your comments to the attention of our station management team. They'll be able to investigate what happened on this occasion. They'll also be able to take appropriate action to make sure that our staff do everything possible to keep queues to a minimum.

Once again, my apologies for the difficulties you experienced on this occasion. I hope that your experience with us is more positive and trouble free.

Yours sincerely

Allan Bradshaw
Customer Relations Officer

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