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TfL boss Sir Peter Hendy blasts Southeastern Trains

Sir Peter Hendy

Southeastern services have been branded “awful” by Transport for London Boss Sir Peter Hendy, who also compared the firm’s ticket inspectors to the Gestapo. In a no-holds barred interview with Management Today, Sir Peter, who is responsible for the capital’s transport service, said:

“On Southeastern the trains are like the Wild West. They are —-, awful. And then every now and then some people who look like the Gestapo get on and fine everyone they can. It doesn’t improve your day, does it?'”

He made the comments to illustrate the difference in approach he believes TfL has in comparison to suburban rail services such as Southeastern. Sir Peter said:

“People hate the suburban rail service, they hate it. If you make a mistake on your Oyster Card on the Tube, we’ll refund it. On South West Trains, they’ll fine you. That’s a big philosophical difference.”

Southeastern expressed disappointment at the criticism, and defended its front line staff. A Southeastern spokesman said:

“We are really proud of our frontline teams and the work they do every day helping hundreds of thousands of passengers. It is disappointing that Peter Hendy’s comments do not reflect their dedication and hard work.”

Kent rail campaign group Railfuture believes there may be more to Sir Peter’s comments than simple ire, and they could belie a desire to take a more active role in the county’s transport service. Chris Fribbins, of Railfuture, said:

“I think these comments should be taken in light of TfL’s ambitions to take over the Metro services from Southeastern. It can be a stark contrast between London Overground and the metro services of most operators around London. I have even questioned TfL about how they can manage this, and and operator cannot, and it comes down to a longer-term planning horizon.”

Railfuture said it was broadly supportive of TfL taking over the metro, which serves parts of Dartford and the Sevenoaks district, but there were still questions to be answered.  Mr Fribbins said:

“There is however suspicion from Kent about the impact that handing control over would have on the longer distance services. [There are] political suspicions about handing over responsibilities to a London Mayor for areas outside his democratic control and accountability. TfL did give some commitments that this would not happen in their failed bid to take over the services, and could easily come around again when the London Bridge works are completed in 2018. The evidence we have seen is that metro services are better under TfL – what would be the impact on the rump of Southeastern services however?”

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