How long does it take to clear a drain?

No this isn’t the start of a corny joke but a sad reflection of Southeastern’s priorities. With their contract on a seemingly never-ending direct award rollover, expenses are under tighter control than ever. Sadly, that seems to include failing to care about raw sewage.

One of our members reported a leaking drain to Southeastern and to Environmental control. Nothing happened. He then reported it to us on our Hildenborough recruitment drive (29th April) and we requested that Southeastern clear it quickly, citing the health and safety impact on passengers wading through raw sewage and them clambering aboard a service used by children to get to school.

We followed this up with the Southeastern twitter team who quoted the 12th of June for it to be resolved. As you can imagine, we thought this was ridiculous. If you or I called up a drain unblocking company, we could probably have the issue resolved within 24 hours (being generous to Southeastern here). This got a lot of attention on social media.

At our AGM (9th May), Southeastern were keen to share their update with us.. the contractors had looked into the problem and were contemplating their solution. Again, we pushed on the health and safety argument. Apparently, everything is slower with the railways and access forms need to be completed to ensure health and safety. We pointed out the flaws in this argument as there are health and safety concerns for leaving raw sewage on the floor to be picked up on people’s shoes and car tyres.

Nearly two weeks on there seems to be no change. Sewage is at this very moment, rolling down a slope covering parts of the carpark at Hildenborough station. The best response we’ve been able to get out of the Southeastern Twitter team is that that there is no update beyond the original June 12th deadline. This just isn’t good enough.

We’ve sent a very strongly worded email to our main contact at Southeastern and demanded that they fix this. This is such a petty issue but it’s typical of a number of minor problems that plague the railway and leave us all incredibly frustrated.

Let’s hope Southeastern pull their finger out and get this resolved before someone or someone’s pet becomes ill as a result of this.

UPDATE 30 May 2019: A few hours after we posted this article, Southeastern’s contractors attended the scene at Hildenborough and worked on fixing the leaking drain. This followed us escalating our complaint to Southeastern and the intervention of Tom Tugendhat MP. We are currently monitoring the situation to ensure that the fix is long term and that the problem will not reoccur.

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