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29.04.15

Hendy apologises for comparing Southeastern to the Gestapo

TfL commissioner Peter Hendy has apologised for his “offensive” and “excessive” remarks about London’s suburban rail services.

In an interview with Management Today released last week, Hendy said: “On Southeastern the trains are like the Wild West. They are shit, awful. And then every now and then some people who look like the Gestapo get on and fine everyone they can. It doesn't improve your day, does it?”

While he received a great deal of support in many quarters for his frank and honest assessment of London’s rail services, others were not so happy. Mick Cash, leader of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, said he was waiting "for an apology for that outrageous slur".

Hendy has now written to Southeastern to apologise.

In a letter to David Brown, chief executive of the Go-Ahead Group which runs Southeastern, and David Statham, managing director of Southeastern, he wrote: “I am quoted in Management Today being offensive about Southeastern trains and its staff. My comment is unjustified and excessive and I apologise.

“I know everyone there is doing their best to offer a good service in the context of the franchise you have and the infrastructure you operate on.

“If there is a context, the interview was several weeks ago during the worst of the issues at London Bridge. But that’s not an excuse. Passion is no excuse for insult. Sorry.”

However the rail unions appear to be slow to forgive. Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA rail union, which represents ticket inspectors, said: "Our ticket inspectors do a difficult enough job without these sort of crass comments from Sir Peter adding to their often stressful working day.

"We know from personal experience that the commissioner can sometimes be short-tempered and difficult. We can cope with him but we do not think it is either wise or sensible of him to pick on a group of people who cannot answer back and don't even work for him anyway.

"We welcome his apology even it is, like the system he is in charge of, running a little late."

(Image source: Stefan Rousseau/PA)

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