Silverlink Hell (part 1)

Posted on 3 April 2005 in London, Transport (4 comments)

An exchange of emails...

Dear Sir/Madam

Every day I get the 0835 West London Line service from Clapham Junction to Wilsden Junction.

Every day the train leaves the platform at 0835.

Every day the train leaves the platform packed like a sardine tin - with people crushed into every available space in gross miscomfort.

Every day at least twenty people are left standing on the platform because they cannot physically board the train.

Every day those people have to wait half an hour for the next available train where the whole process starts again.

Every evening I get the 1747 West London Line service from Kennsington Olympia to Clapham Junction.

Every evening by the time the train leaves West Brompton, the train is packed like a sardine tin with people crushed into every available space in gross miscomfort.

So this is a simple question. Given the ridiculous overcrowding on this service, and the quite clear and blatant safety implications this causes, yet alone passenger discomfort, why do you run a train with just three carriages?

This is a simple question as well. Why do you not hire a single, extra carriage for the two trains that run down this line?

Why do you not do this to allow your passengers - the people who pay their fares - the people who fund your excessive profits - to travel in a least a fraction of the comfort they deserve?

Those are very simple questions. I expect a simple reply.

Andrew Bowden

The above is a copy of an email I sent to Silverlink Trains on 16 March 2005. The reason incidentally for the repetition of the phrase "simple question" was because I'd heard that Silverlink Trains are very good at fobbing you off with replies that don't even address the issue raised.

On 24 March 2005, I got a repy.

Dear Mr Bowden

Thank you for writing to us.

I'm sorry to hear of the overcrowded trains on your service from Clapham Junction.

The compilation of the timetable is a complex one, where the needs of all of our passengers need to be considered. During peak times all available rolling stock is utilised which regrettably, leaves little flexibility to increase the carriages on particular services.

However, continual monitoring of the service carries on throughout the life of a timetable with any necessary alterations being carried out as soon as possible.

Whilst we are unable to alter the timetable directly, I can assure you that your comments, along with many others, have been logged in order that passenger concerns can be presented to our management, highlighting the specific problems being experienced.

Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention. Please be assured of our commitment to providing our customers with the best possible service.

So there's a kind of answer as to why they run a 3 car train down the line. They're rolling stock is being 'prioritised' which means the poor suckers on the West London Line must endure cattletruck conditions. But not one single part of the response comes close to answering the more important question...

Why not hire more carriages?

Instead some waffle about timetables. Funnily enough I am nowhere near satisfied with that response which is why I replied this evening, with an email that was more direct, and firmly (yet hopefully still reasonably politely) pressing for an answer. We will wait and see, but I'm not optimistic. Why? Well I've also heard on the grapevine that when you complain to Silverlink about their response to your first complaint, they do a very good job of ignoring you.

Of course if as a customer you're not happy with a railway company response, there's always your local Rail Passenger Council - so the next step should be passing the complaint onto the London Transport Users Committee but hey, I'm a sporting man, so I'll give Silverlink a second chance...

I'll post the second email when I get a reply. Well, if I get a reply...

Still if you're a West London Line customer too, and fed up of being crammed in, or even worse, being left on the platform, you could always try emailing custrel@silverlink-trains.com. You never know, you might get fobbed off too.

Incidentally I should at this point state that since I wrote the original complaint, I've changed my travel arrangements. I now try to get the 0824 Southern Trains service from Clapham Junction instead. And to give you some element of how busy the line is, that train is four carriages long, and it's still standing room only when it departs. And you don't want to be there when that train gets cancelled and everyone tries to pile on the Silverlink train at 0835...

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Pascal said:

This network is an utter shamble. Everytime, I catch this train from Homerton station - almost everyday- there are problems. The train is always packed, smelly, dirty, disgusting, late, slow... you name it... a poorly. Worse, passengers paid a ticket for a seat, not to be uncomfortably sqashed and upset before going to work. Once there was no ticket master and the only 1 machine didn't work at the station , so i could not get a ticket, but i still boarded the train, thinking i'll but the ticket at the other end. But at stopping at highbury & islington, i Got fined £20 + a single ticket. Silverklink is a disaster with a crap service but the public has to pay fines! . I'm a public servant - a nurse, rescuing people- on a low income, and they should be ashamed their stupid "law". The only solution is to close the Damn thing!!!There is no way, they'll resolve this problem, they don't think before acting - Above, the reply to Mr Bowden ,was about timetable... Jesus, did you missread his email or what? More carriages would helped your declined service... We pay for this service, give us what you owe us....

Posted on 12 November 2007 at 2:03 PM

Andrew Bowden said:

Well as of Sunday 12 November, Silverlink is no more and London Overground has taken over. There's going to be new trains from next year, and over the last 12 months, Silverlink and Southern did put on extra services. We'll see how it goes.

Posted on 12 November 2007 at 3:35 PM

Neil McWhirter said:

Any idea how we can get a refund for the industrial action which took place in Oct and Nov when there were no trains into Euston.

I have an annual gold card, like many others, so we have paid for a service which didn't happen but I have not seen any info at my local station (Leighton Buzzard) re any refunds etc.

Posted on 10 December 2007 at 1:41 PM

Paul said:

Ring up London midland, they should pass your details on to another company that is dealing with the refunds. Not sure how it works for a South London -> Olympia journey.

As for the extra carriage -- there apparently aren't any available. That said the 07:55 fast from Leighton to Euston usually has a seat or two left. The 08:04 stopper has all seats full by Watford.

As for the £20 fine, I'm afraid you need to uy a ticket beforehand. If you can't, you need to get a permit to travel, just a few pence in the machine will give you a ticket. If that's broken, you are entitled to buy on the train no matter what the RPIs say.

Posted on 19 December 2007 at 9:00 AM

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