Rail companies responsible for services through Bexley have accepted that recent reliability hasn’t been good enough and have outlined plans for improvements to James Brokenshire. James has been challenging both the Managing Director of Southeastern, Charles Horton and Steve Cassidy, the Network Rail Route Manager for the Southeastern network, to dramatically improve performance, both in terms of reliability and communication with customers.
In a recent report by the Office of the Rail Regulator into performance on local rail services, Southeastern were found to be responsible for 34% of delays on the network. However, 60% of delays were caused by Network Rail which maintains the network infrastructure, such as the tracks and signals.
The train operating company, Southeastern, are responsible for the maintenance and operation of rolling stock and for keeping their customers informed when disruption occurs. At a recent meeting with James, Southeastern Managing Director, Charles Horton, said new “Remote Condition Monitoring” equipment which now provides detailed data on how individual trains and their components are performing, has been installed, allowing engineers to resolve faults before they cause problems. This should lead to improved rolling stock reliability over the next two years.
Southeastern is also equipping station staff with mobile devices allowing them access to up to date information on train performance and location so that they can give better advice to customers. New GSMR radios will also allow staff at Southeastern’s Control Centre in Southwark to speak directly to passengers and keep them informed as to what’s going on.
During the meeting with Network Rail, Route Manager Steve Cassidy told James that Remote Condition Monitoring is also in the process of being installed on signals and points, allowing faults to be detected and repaired before they cause disruption. In addition, £6million has been spent on upgrading and replacing essential equipment, including the installation of new cabling between London Bridge and Cannon Street. The main change for Network Rail however, is to move from a reactive system of maintenance and asset management, to a more preventative one, where issues are highlighted and dealt with behind the scenes before they impact on passengers.
In a separate development, 12 carriage trains will begin to run on Southeastern from February improving peak capacity. During the initial phase of rollout, one 12 carriage train will pass through the constituency during morning peak, calling at Bexley at 07:41, Albany Park at 07:44 and Sidcup at 07:46. Further 12 carriage trains will be added as the rollout continues.
Commenting James said: “The recent performance of our local railways has simply not been good enough, particularly when hard-pressed commuters are having to pay more for their travel. The measures, which are being put into place by Southeastern and Network Rail, may provide some improvements in delivering a reliable and efficient service.”
“However, it is important that pressure is maintained on both organisations to ensure needed improvements are delivered. I therefore welcome news that the Office of the Rail Regulator will be conducting a formal review into Network Rail’s performance on the local network. I hope that this will serve to keep the focus on ensuring that our rail companies provide levels of reliability which passengers rightly expect."