London Assembly calls for Southeastern train delay answers

The London Assembly's transport committee has written to Southeastern trains after commuters faced major delays because of the heat.

Delays were caused when a train broke down at Dartford in Kent, on Monday.

While engineers carried out repairs, passengers on a train in Bexleyheath, south-east London, forced open carriage doors and walked on the tracks.

Southeastern has apologised for the delays and said passengers would receive compensation of up to £30.

In a letter, the committee asked the firm for an explanation for the delays and to clarify details of the compensation it will offer.

'Last resort'

Commuters said their journeys had been delayed by about two hours, on one of the hottest days of the year.

Southeastern confirmed Network Rail had to turn the third rail off after passengers walked on the tracks.

A Southeastern spokesman said the driver had told passengers not to leave but when they pulled emergency levers he had no choice but to evacuate the train.

The spokesman said the evacuation of any train was a "last resort", because of the risks posed to passengers.

If the passengers had stayed on board the delay would have been much less, he said.

"We can understand their actions but they made a bad situation even worse," said the spokesman.

'Left stranded'

Chairwoman of the committee, Caroline Pidgeon, said: "While we don't condone passengers putting themselves at risk by leaving the train and walking on the tracks, you can hardly blame them for being desperate to get out.

"Others were left stranded at stations with little or no information about what was happening.

"We want to know whether Southeastern responded as quickly and effectively as it should, and how it will improve its response if something like this happens again."

The committee has also asked for details of the procedure the firm follows for long delays and what would be done to ensure lessons were learned.

A spokesman for Southeastern said: "Passengers who were affected will be compensated.

"We would like to give them a goodwill gesture of up to £30, depending on how long they were delayed."

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