Hove MP urges train company to improve handling of delays

Posted On 24 Jan 2012 at 1:23 am

Conservative MP Mike Weatherley has called on the main train company serving his Hove constituency to improve the way that delays are handled.

Mr Weatherley said that he had written to Chris Burchell, managing director of Southern Railway.

He said: “I am being contacted more and more by angry commuters who are fed up with delays and the awful organisation at mainline stations.

“As soon as a few trains are cancelled Victoria becomes totally chaotic.

“I have written to Southern so that a concerted and co-ordinated effort can be made to improve how these delays are handled.”

Mr Weatherley called for a co-ordinated programme of steps to be taken during large-scale disruptions at principal stations on the Brighton mainline, including Victoria and London Bridge.

In his letter he said: “Given the nature of delays at a principal station, I am surprised that a co-ordinated programme by station officials is not automatically implemented.

“First, signs on individual platforms (where many passengers congregate as the main concourse is more often than not totally overcrowded) do not provide any additional information.

Honesty

“Secondly, I know that a bout of honesty would be appreciated when explaining the reason for any particular delay.

“Thirdly, for a core destination like Brighton and Hove, I am surprised that selected platforms or other designated areas are not set aside for commuters to congregate safely.”

A spokesman for Southern said that Mr Burchell had not yet received Mr Weatherley’s letter but that he when he did so he would reply addressing the specific points raised.

The spokesman said that in the meantime Southern was addressing the issues raised by passengers and others about the availability and quality of information during major disruption.

He said that it was also look at what practical actions should be taken as part of an initiative called Project Mercury.

The project was specifically designed, he said, to improve significantly the flow of information from the source to passengers during periods of disruption.

The project includes work on

  • Improving the information that is available for customers at stations during disruption
  • Improving the information that is available to staff by ensuring that it is consistent, timely and accurate
  • Ensuring staff have the right tools to pass on information during disruption
  • Helping to provide customers with possible alternatives

Some of the work that has already been done includes

  • The creation of pre-prepared temporary timetables for use in extreme weather and other events that would cause severe disruption
  • The training of company volunteers (customer action teams) to be deployed to key stations to give advice and to help passengers during disruption
  • Improvements to online systems to ensure consistency of information during disruption
  • Better guidance to all staff who make announcements during disruption

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