Kent

Southeastern trains: Passengers call for firm to lose franchise

A southeastern train Image copyright PA
Image caption Earlier this week, rail passengers were told trains were delayed due to "strong sunlight"

Thousands of commuters have signed a petition calling for Southeastern to be stripped of its rail franchise.

The petition accuses the company of letting down customers and cancelling trains strategically to avoid fines.

It says customer service is "beyond useless" and the people of the South East have suffered long enough.

In response, Southeastern agreed it had been a difficult few weeks, but said it was committed to bringing about improvements.

On Monday, a landslip at Barnehurst led to the cancellation of services between Lewisham and Dartford for the rest of the day.

Then on Tuesday, the train operator sparked fury from some when it blamed the disruption of services on "the angle of the sun" in Lewisham.

Meanwhile, work at London Bridge, which is scheduled to continue until 2018, continues to cause problems for passengers.

'Difficult few weeks'

The petition, started by Oliver Passey, has already gained more than 7,000 signatures.

In a statement, managing director for Southeastern, David Statham, said: "We understand it has been a difficult few weeks for passengers due to a series of problems, many of which have been caused by faults with the infrastructure we use.

"A number of these were weather related. Signalling and track circuit failures have also caused delays.

"All of these have caused frustration for passengers and we would like to reassure them Network Rail works hard to solve infrastructure problems."

He said the company was committed to "bringing about improvement".

"We'll also go above and beyond to help passengers, in particular [those] who are left stranded in the event of missing the last train home due to a delay or cancellation - we'll arrange onward transport or even arrange accommodation," the company said.

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