Response from Southeastern regarding compensation for commuters

london_bridge_delays.jpgDear Ms. Kotecha

Thank you for your letter of 11 March addressed to Managing Director David Statham.

I apologise for not getting back to you sooner but the letter was addressed to our parent company, Go Ahead, at its former office rather than Southeastern at the address below and only reached me today.

As you will be aware, as a consequence of the Railways Act 1993 which paved the way for the privatisation of the UK rail network Southeastern is a private sector company and is not subject to the Freedom of information Act. Network Rail (now in the public sector) is subject to the FOIA.

However, in the interests of transparency I can confirm that in the year to date Southeastern has paid approximately £972,000 in delay-repay compensation to passengers. This excludes other forms of compensation paid to passengers for taxi fares, the costs of hotel accommodation, or damage to clothing or property.

You asked about monies received from Network Rail when services are disrupted? Monies received from Network Rail under schedules 4 and 8 of our franchise agreement are a standard rail industry mechanism, agreed by the Department for Transport, to compensate the train operator for loss of revenue and other costs as well as compensating passengers delayed by 30 minutes or more.

To explain, when services are disrupted as a result of infrastructure failure, this has a financial impact on the train operator over and above compensation to passengers.

First, in addition to the direct costs of compensation, the train operator will lose revenue as a result of passengers opting not to travel as a result of the disruption.

Second, the operator may have to meet the cost of replacement bus services

Third, there will inevitably be the cost of over-time payments to staff that might have to work extended hours as a result of the disruption

Fourth, on top of delay-repay, there may be further costs to the operator including re-imbursement of taxi fares, hotel accommodation and goodwill gestures should the disruption be particularly severe, or if passengers are held on trains for any length of time.

Finally, there are the intangible costs of reputational damage. Major disruption will be widely reported in the media and the negative publicity surrounding this will deter people from travelling by train. This is particularly true for those considering travelling during off-peak periods during the day or at weekends.

I hope this goes some way towards explaining why all monies received from Network Rail in the event of infrastructure-related service disruption are not automatically passed on to passengers on the form of direct compensation.

Finally, you refer to “disruption to Southeastern services” and assume you are referring to reports in the Evening Standard and other media of crowding (and delayed services) at London Bridge?

There may be some confusion here as if you are familiar with station, you will know until the completion of the re-build in 2018 it’s effectively divided in two, the upper level where services are operated by our company, Southeastern, and the lower level where services are operated by Southern. (The station itself is owned and managed by Network Rail.

On the Southeastern side I’m pleased to tell you that crowding is effectively managed and in terms of train performance over 90% of services arrive on time, (the best performance on the Southeastern network for two years) .The disruption referred to in the media has affected services operated by Southern and not Southeastern

I hope this is helpful, but if you need further information, please let me know

Best wishes

Mike Gibson

Public Affairs Manager
Friars Bridge Court
41-45 Blackfriars Road