Over a period of several years I complained to Southern about a number of occasions when their staff at Lewes failed to hold the train to Seaford so that those coming from London can make the connection.
Southern’s policy is only to hold a connecting train for up to 4 minutes past the scheduled departure time.
In a previous blog post I detailed how on this particular service – and a number of other services that follow a similar pattern – the train could be kept up to 14 minutes with no adverse effect on any other service.
Meeting the Head of Train Planning
Those responding on behalf of Southern’s customer services, even at an executive level, appeared to either not understand the points I raised or reach for the “nearest irrelevant excuse from the book” rather engaging with the specific detail of this service.
After I escalated this issue to Transport Focus, Southern arranged for me to meet with their Head of Train Planning.
When we examined the timetables, he very clearly got the point I was making.
He was unwilling to consider holding the train for longer than 4 minutes past its scheduled departure. Despite pressing him on the point I was unable to get a clear answer from him why this could not be permitted.
But he did promise to look at this service and see if he could “tweak” it in order to help services connect.
Tweak in the December Timetable
The tweak has indeed appeared in the new timetable introduced in December. The interval between the train from London arriving at Lewes and the Seaford train departing has been increased to 8 minutes, giving passengers an extra 2 minutes to connect.
It is certainly a welcome change although it falls short of the best solution, i.e. holding the train for the maximum time available without affecting other services.