This morning thousands of commuters had to endure severe delays or abandon their journeys. The cause of the chaos was overrunning engineering works, but the rail industry has been coy about the details. Network Rail, who are responsible for maintenance, issued a brief statement this afternoon apologising for the disruption and explaining that a team laying track in Sevenoaks Tunnel “encountered a series of problems over the weekend” and that at one point this meant that the tunnel needed to be evacuated. We asked when we’ll be able to see a detailed report about what happened, but initially Network Rail simply told us that we could obtain a copy of the report under a Freedom of Information request but they didn’t know when it would be ready. That seemed a bit chicken and egg – how would we know when to request the report? Fortunately, Network Rail have now agreed to keep in touch with us on a more informal basis.
As ever, the information available to passengers this morning was extremely patchy. It seems this is primarily because nobody really knew what was going on and the estimated time for completing the works kept being put back. We’ve heard reports that people were bussed to Tonbridge only to be held in front of the ticket barriers. Of course, this sort of situation is stressful for staff as well as passengers, and we would point out that the Southeastern employees we encountered at Tonbridge were calm, polite and professional.
Many of those who managed to get to London used Southern’s service via Redhill. Of course, if Southern (or rather parent company GTR) gets its way this service will be reduced to a Tonbridge to Redhill shuttle next year. We’re protesting about this change, which would leave passengers with fewer options for getting to London.
Finally, do remember to claim Delay Repay compensation, which Southeastern has promised to double in this case. Why not use £4 of the compensation to join Tonbridge Line Commuters? We’ll make sure your voice is heard, and hopefully reduce the chances of chaos like this happening again.