Keith’s Travel Diary March 2017

A total of 311 minutes, Southeastern 101, Thameslink 210 – a bad month.

Delay Repay Claims: total 1 January 2017 to 31 March 2017 inclusive = £44.30

Keith is a SRTA member and a regular commuter from Bat & Ball to London via Sevenoaks. Each month he gives his personal experiences and views.

Week of 06 March 2017

Total lateness 134 minutes, Southeastern 71, Thameslink 63

  • Monday 06 March – No improvement to the lighting problems at Bat & Ball this morning. The 06.31 to Waterloo East arrived one minute late. When I boarded the train a Conductor was selling a ticket to somebody and was blocking the path to vacant seats; two or three people were watching her anxiously. No doubt worried that people would approach from the other direction and occupy the seats that they were queuing up for!
  • Tuesday 07 March – On the 06.31 to Waterloo East I had to walk through three coaches, right to the rear of the train, to get a seat today. Many were standing, especially after Orpington. I intended travelling home early today because I was going to Tonbridge in the evening to see blues man Kent Duchaine play in the Punch and Judy. So I arrived at Waterloo East intending to travel on the 14.43 departure. However, when I arrived at the station the 14.13 service was still alongside platform C. After about five minutes the conductor advised passengers that there was a suspicious package in the bus station at London Bridge that was being investigated and that the station was being evacuated. He then announced that the train would not be moving for a long time and he had been told to advise passengers that it might be better to make their way to Blackfriars or Victoria because services that were due to pass through London Bridge were being diverted to these stations. I made my way to Blackfriars and travelled home direct to Bat & Ball on the 15.12 departure. I later discovered that the suspicious package was really an abandoned car parked under the bridge that carries the railway over the road which forms the entrance to the bus station. To make matters worse wiring could be seen hanging from the vehicle.
  • Wednesday 08 March – The 06.24 to Sevenoaks and the 06.31 to Waterloo East were both one minute late arriving at their destination this morning. I returned from London Blackfriars this afternoon on the 15.42 departure. This train was running late and was sent fast from Bromley South to Sevenoaks via Orpington and therefore did not stop at Bat & Ball. At Sevenoaks the return working, the 17.00 departure was sent fast to Swanley, again not calling at Bat & Ball! I had to wait at Sevenoaks for the 17.30 departure. This demonstrates that Thameslink do not care about passengers south of the river Thames; their primary concern is keeping services north of London on time. Another Delay Repay claim: 53 minutes late.

Week of 13 March 2017

Total lateness 25 minutes: Southeastern 12, Thameslink 13

  • Monday 13 March – No improvement to the lighting problems at Bat & Ball this morning. The touchscreen on the ticket issuing machine requires a thorough clean, it appears that some lowlife has amused themselves by spitting at the screen and the deposits have dried on to it. On the 06.31 to Waterloo East there were very few seats available at Sevenoaks this morning and I had to stand – possibly due to Southern being on strike.
  • Tuesday 14 March – On the 06.31 to Waterloo East there were enough seats available for Sevenoaks commuters but none for passengers joining at Orpington. As we approached London the Conductor was apologising to passengers over the PA system that due to a faulty machine he could not print tickets therefore he was not able to sell anyone who needed one a ticket. It occurred to me, why did he not have one of the old style pads that guards used in the past to hand write tickets as a backup in the event of equipment failure? The touchscreen on the ticket issuing machine had been cleaned during the day.
  • Thursday 16 March – On the 06.31 to Waterloo East there were unusually more than enough seats available for Sevenoaks commuters – and even a few spare for those passengers joining at Orpington!
  • Friday 17 March – I returned home on the late running 15.43 from Waterloo East today which arrived twelve minutes late at Sevenoaks. The delay to this service was due to an earlier train causing congestion at London Bridge when the train’s brakes locked on and it could not move. The 16.21 to Bat & Ball was running later in sympathy! It did not depart until 16.28 and arrived seven minutes late at 16.31.

Week of 20 March 2017

Total lateness 143 minutes: Southeastern 13, Thameslink 130

  • Monday 20 March – Another week has passed and there is no change to the number of lights requiring to be repaired at Bat & Ball station. With the lighter mornings and evenings monitoring the lighting problems at Bat & Ball will become more difficult. The 06.16 to Blackfriars was expected at 16.18 and the 06.24 to Sevenoaks was shown as expected on time. This changed to 06.25 but the train did not arrive until 06.27 and pulled in to Sevenoaks 06.30. I arrived on platform one just as the 06.31 was closing the doors before departure. I did not try to board because the train was very full and a lot of people were standing; considerably more than is common on this train. Not the best of starts to the week. I waited for the 06.41 departure but I actually travelled on the late running 06.17 service which departed at 06.35. This train arrived at Waterloo East at 07.06, twenty-two minutes late but only four minutes after the arrival time of the 06.31 and nine minutes earlier than if I had waited for the 06.41!
  • Wednesday 22 March – The 06.24 to Sevenoaks arrived on time today. The 06.31 arrived at Waterloo East three minutes late this morning, it was held outside the station for reasons unknown which caused the delay. There were enough seats for Sevenoaks passengers today but on departure from Orpington there were a lot of people standing.
  • Thursday 23 March –I travelled home on the 15.33 from Waterloo East which arrived one minute early at Sevenoaks. At Sevenoaks Thameslink had problems; these started during my journey from London. A train had failed at City Thameslink I believe and blocked the line. At Sevenoaks the 16.21 was shown as delayed and subsequent departures were either cancelled or delayed. I asked a member of the platform staff at Sevenoaks station when the next departure to Bat & Ball was expected. They advised me that they did not know and could not get any information about this. I needed to get home so I abandoned my journey and continued home by other means. Another Delay Repay claim!
  • Friday 24 March – My destination was Tenby today. I started my journey from Bat & Ball intending to catch the 07.40 departure to Sevenoaks or if this was cancelled or severely delayed the 07.39 to Farringdon. The 07.39 was cancelled and the 07.40 was running late. I eventually arrived at Sevenoaks at 07.48. The 07.51 to London Bridge was too crowded to board with a suitcase and there did not appear to be many seats available. I travelled on the 08.03 which arrived at London Bridge one minute late. Online enquiries had advised that the best route across London to Paddington station was from London Bridge to Baker Street using the Jubilee line then completing the journey on the Metropolitan or Circle lines. Presumably because of the work being undertaken at Charing Cross Underground station in the booking hall area the direct Charing Cross to Paddington route using the Bakerloo line was not suggested. Changing trains at Baker Street with a suitcase is not to be recommended, there is work being undertaken there makes to route between platforms a bit circuitous and this route seemed to take forever compared to using the Bakerloo line. I used the Bakerloo line on my return journey which results in leaving the Underground system at Trafalgar Square and walking along the Strand to Charing Cross station but this much quicker and easier.

Week of 27 March 2017

Total lateness 9 minutes: Southeastern 5, Thameslink 4

  • Monday 27 March – Return from Tenby, commencing my rail journey at Bridgend arrival at London Paddington was on time. I travelled back to Sevenoaks on the 21.30 from Charing Cross to Sevenoaks which arrived on time.
  • Wednesday 29 March – Another week has passed and there is no change to the number of lights requiring to be repaired at Bat & Ball station; five not working, one flickering intermittently. It is now three months since the faulty lighting was first reported to Southeastern.

Incidents and this month’s issues: –

  • Southeastern’s class 375 trains seem to be too hot recently, the weather has turned milder but the air conditioning does not seem to adjust for this
  • SouthWest Trains are obviously living in the past; their Website and online ticket booking site does not know that Bat & Ball station now has a ticket machine were tickets bought online may be collected!
  • National Rail Enquiries advised that there are cheap advance single tickets from Waterloo to Portsmouth and the same for the return journey but when I tried to book them SouthWest Trains Website did not recognise that these tickets existed when I booked them and was only offering tickets at about twice the price!

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