Passenger groups across the South East are uniting behind a Charter demanding improvements to South Eastern Rail services.
Passengers are using the Charter to call for better accessibility at stations, flexible tickets for part-time commuters and more train carriages.
The Better South Eastern Charter is in response to the public consultation launched by the Government as it looks for a new train operator to run the franchise after the current contract ends in December 2018. Southeastern, who currently operate the franchise which serves south east London and parts of Kent and East Sussex, has some of the worst passenger satisfaction in the UK.
The Charter has been signed by Campaign for Better Transport, Sevenoaks Rail Travellers Association, Tonbridge Line Commuters, Cycling UK, Living Streets, National Pensioners Convention, Rural Services Network, Timewise, Transport for All and Work Wise UK and has six demands:
1. A fairer deal for part-time commuters
2. Value for money with a commitment to always sell the cheapest ticket for a journey
3. Better stations with accessibility upgrades and improved integration with cycling, local buses and TfL services
4. Better train services with extra carriages and accurate up to date information for passengers
5. Excellent customer service with trained, visible staff on trains and at stations to provide assistance and give passengers security
6. Monitoring and enforcement with fines if the train company falls short of its commitments.
Lianna Etkind, from Campaign for Better Transport, which initiated the Charter, said: “Southeastern passengers are currently being overcharged to wait in poorly kept stations with limited facilities and then be squeezed onto packed trains. This is not acceptable and this Charter makes the case for people and communities across the South East to have the reliable, affordable and high-quality rail service they deserve. Our Charter demands were developed by people who use the service every day. If the Government is serious about its stated ambition to put the passenger at the heart of this new franchise, it would do well to take note.”
Catherine Smith, from Transport for All, said: “The new franchise is a golden opportunity for the Government to open up our railways to disabled and older passengers across the South East. They must guarantee ‘Turn up and Go’ assistance, that adequate staffing levels are maintained and ensure strict targets around accessibility and customer service for disabled people are included in the contract.”
Emma Stewart, joint CEO of Timewise, said: “Making season tickets fairer for the one in four people who work part-time is long overdue. Why should we pay higher costs for commuting to work?”
Campaign for Better Transport has set up an online form to make it easy for people to respond to the Government consultation with their own rail gripes and priorities and add their voices to the Charter demands. The form is available on its website at www.bettertransport.org.uk/south-eastern