It's a column and it's for opinion - welcome back to the Opinion Column featuring a guest writer each time.

For this one our editor Simon Bull has some travel woes to share.

If you've got an everyday bugbear you want to moan about, a topical issue to discuss or a local matter to highlight, you too could be one of our guest writers here on the Opinion Column. Email around 350 words on your chosen subject to

It’s hard to imagine there is anywhere in this country with worse train services than south London.

If such a place exists I’m glad not to live or work there.

When you have to deal with the double trouble that is Southeastern and Thameslink it’s a recipe for disaster.

Fortunately it’s going to change soon, but for now at least I have to make a two-part journey to and from work every day using both of these operators.

Barely a day goes by when something doesn’t go wrong with one of the four trains I rely on. It’s a real bonus if both ways go without a hitch, until I remember it’s meant to run smoothly.

What makes the delays and cancellations worse is the lack of information. Train operators, or at least these two, seem incapable of communicating with passengers.

Lame, vague excuses about ‘train faults’ along with robotic apologies are offered in announcements, display screens offer very little useful information and then the few station staff encountered are quite often clueless about what’s happened or which trains are running. We keep people up-to-date on Twitter, they might claim, but that’s not really good enough.

Some issues are not down to the operators, they’re thanks to Network Rail failings, but many of them are - and the frustration caused would be greatly reduced if the operators provided anything approaching half-decent customer service.

It would also be helpful if the operators didn’t have the bright idea to make delayed trains skip lots of stations where people are waiting. It might get services back on track for future passengers but doesn’t do any good for people who are struck and running late.

It would be great if long-suffering commuters could vote with their feet and use alternative providers, but that’s not possible unfortunately - we’re trapped.

It’s often been suggested metro trains could come under the management of Transport for London. While I’m not convinced this would be a miracle cure, there does need to be a radical rethink so train travel isn’t so painful.

Speaking of painful, I haven’t even got on to the smelly, dirty and uncomfortable carriages passengers endure when trains do show up ... maybe another tine.