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‘London’s suburban rail services are awful’, says TfL’s top man

You’ve got to give it to Peter Hendy, he doesn’t hold back. The TfL commissioner is a man of opinions, and he is not shy of expressing them. So that’s exactly what he did in a recent interview with Management Today.

Comparing how TfL and different suburban rail operators in London deal with customers, Hendy said: “People hate the suburban rail service, they hate it. If you make a mistake on your Oyster Card on the Tube, we'll refund it. On South West Trains, they'll fine you. That's a big philosophical difference.”

He picked out one unfortunate operator for some special loathing: “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?”

The leadership of a certain train operator aren’t likely to be smiling this morning, they also aren’t likely to be saying Hendy’s name without series of curse words prefixing it any time soon either.

But their main problem isn't what Hendy said, it’s that he was right. Too many commuter services on Southeastern are a hot, sticky mess that claustrophobes have nightmares about. Passengers are paying more and more for what feels like worse and worse services, with prices of day travelcards increasing 38% since January.

Now it’s no secret Hendy and TfL want to take over the operation of suburban rail services into the capital, and that no doubt coloured his remarks, but when you look at the sorry state most of those services are in, it’s hard to argue they shouldn’t.

(Image source: Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Nonsuchmike   24/04/2015 at 12:56

The only way for these people @ TOCs to understand what decent treatment is for passengers and change their mojo is for them to travel regularly themselves on the line @ peak times. This is why we need more competition in the south and at least one of not three not for profit companies to hire/buy trains and run truly integrated services where it is appreciated that the paying customer is, well, the customer and is paying their wages. Added security @ stations and tap in tap out will encourage fewer people trying to travel on a freebie. Probably reducing fares will actually increase profitability long term based on increased customer confidence, satisfaction and regular usage.

E. O. Clerk   24/04/2015 at 13:19

How do you think TOC staff get to work, if not by train? And Mr. Hendy ought to know that TOC staff have no powers to fine anyone. They can, however, charge a penalty fare to people travelling without valid tickets.

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