SOUTHEASTERN’S managing director has responded to stinging criticism over the rail company’s services during recent snowy weather.
The company was lambasted earlier this month, with some calling for it to be stripped of its franchise, after snowfall decimated its services and frustrated commuters were given little or no information on whether their trains would be running.
Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group Caroline Pidgeon wrote to the company to complain - as she had done back in January when the story was much the same.
In a written response from Southeastern managing director Charles Horton, he said: “During this period there were shortcomings in information despite our efforts to keep passengers updated.
“I am disappointed about this and I fully understand the frustrations expressed by customers about this issue.”
Mr Horton said one of the main causes was heavier than expected snowfall overnight on November 30.
He claimed that a contingency timetable then needed to be put in place at short notice, staff needed to manually re-plan the services.
Mr Horton said: “This is a huge task and when done in this way the ability to feed information into the national systems which provide train information on the internet and station departure boards is lost.”
The managing director blamed problems providing information to passengers in the following days on IT problems with Network Rail’s database.
He insisted that improvements had been made this year, including upgrades to the company’s website and Network Rail-installed conductor rail heating to cut down on cold spots on the network.
But he said: “Despite these improvements the third rail network is still vulnerable to significant disruption while there is heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures.
“It will require further very significant further investment in the infrastructure to ensure that the network is better able to cope.”
The third rail system runs in south London, and is particularly susceptible to freezing when wintry weather strikes.