Last week I made a new acquaintance, and spent several minutes talking to the poor man about trains. And possibly the Northern Line. As this drivel dribbled from my lips I had two thoughts: first, I am truly appalling at small talk. Second, I hadn’t realised quite how large this chip on my shoulder about south east London transport had got.

I’ve always had a certain amount of transport nerdery in me – I live in London for godssakes, the tube is just cool – but shifting off the underground and onto proper trains has definitely had… an effect. Perhaps it’s that the SE London online community allows us to bitch more widely and share cock-ups and developments, but I suspect it’s more that when the trains go wrong, they really go wrong. Oh, and that Southeastern couldn’t run a pissup in the proverbial.

I’m quite proud that a Google search for “southeastern trains” still brings up my Londonist post from January about the total snow fuck-up on the first page. Perhaps this new one will join it, as Southeastern manage to run a few more trains (but really, not many more) while completely failing to pass on any information.

The first thing they do when anything goes wrong is turn off the destination boards at stations, yet don’t replace them with any other kind of information source. Their promised improved service to handle bad weather is a farce – all they seem to have done is get a bit more server space so their website doesn’t crash. If you want to know the situation with the trains, you have to check Twitter or local blogs.

Southeastern are jacking up prices by an average of 7.8% next year. Is it asking too much to put some of that money towards providing a better service for the poor bastards who are shelling out for it? It’s not the ballsed up service I object to so much (there is proper snow down here for once), it’s that you have to find out about it from the guy manning the coffee stall rather than the people being paid to staff the station.

And this is why, when I hear about train delays, I have started to go off on one. Sorry about that. And consider yourselves warned.


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