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Forest Hill Rail Station
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robwinton


Posts: 335
Joined: Jun 2006
Post: #1
29-11-2007 03:48 PM

I am sick to death of the phrase "apologies for the inconvenience". It is empty and meaningless. I hear it all the time, particularly at the station ...

"I [says the recorded voice which has no name and no personality] would like to apologise for the delay this may cause to your journey" (I paraphrase)

This was particularly brought home to me today as I got off the train on platform 2 and realised I had to go the long way around. Thankfully I am able-bodied and only had a back-pack, but a poor woman, that I only spotted having crossed to the other platform, had to haul her pram up and down the steps for the bridge (another friendly passenger did help). Why?

Because the gate is closed "for maintenance reasons" for 2 days. Of course this is fine with me as I'd love to see improvments, and the station manager even left a little note to "apologise for the inconvenience". Isn't that nice of him?



Unfortunately, when I finally walked all the way around this is what greeted me (I walked all the way around to check what had caused this issue):



Now, is it just me, or has NOTHING happened in 36 of the alloted 48 hours? Why should passengers suffer, in particular those who have prams or mobility issues?

If the manager REALLY cared enough (as his apology seems to suggest) surely if nothing was happening they could open the gate? It is a tiny station. Surely someone could come across and unlock it?

And as for any help for people to get across the bridge ... you must be joking!

I find this VERY irritating (as the lack of smilies and the number of capitals I hope shows)

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brian


Posts: 2,002
Joined: Apr 2005
Post: #2
29-11-2007 05:09 PM

I agree I could not exit by Perry Vale Exit today. However I do wonder how many fare dodgers use this exit.

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michael


Posts: 3,196
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #3
29-11-2007 05:16 PM

If they want to stop fare dodgers they would need to check tickets somewhere. They do not check in the main station since the introduction of Oyster cards.

I am hoping that the lighting will be improved on the Perry Vale exit, it really needs it at this time of year. I must go home now and check...

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Baboonery


Posts: 581
Joined: Sep 2007
Post: #4
29-11-2007 05:40 PM

The coffee-stand gate on the main side has been closed the last two mornings as well. Though there are a couple of loose flags there.

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loca


Posts: 67
Joined: Sep 2007
Post: #5
29-11-2007 07:38 PM

Why don't we all email them and ask why this has happened. I am sure that will please them no end!

comments@southernrailway.com

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Foresters


Posts: 207
Joined: May 2006
Post: #6
29-11-2007 08:18 PM

with a bit of luck they will at least get rid of the barbed wire which greets the left side of your head as you sesibly make your way down using the handrail

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Savvy


Posts: 10
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #7
30-11-2007 12:34 AM

I've emailed. Let's see what they say.
Rather strange.

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michael


Posts: 3,196
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #8
30-11-2007 09:14 AM

The gate has reopened , so we now have a spot the difference competition.

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jgdoherty


Posts: 275
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #9
30-11-2007 09:17 AM

I telephoned their helpline twice to report the locked gate - and the inadequate signage - I got to the top of the stairs yesterday morning in the dark before realising the thing was locked.

Interestingly no-one has called back.

On two points - the manager who authorised locking the gate on Platform 2 during operational hours should have done a risk assessment on the impact of the closure. Had that been done effectively it would have been difficult to come to any conclusion other that that the platform would have to have station staff present on the platform to provide immediate assistance in the event of an emergency (say a train fire) and evacuation of Platform 2 became necessary. Any disabled person, partly sighted or mother with baby would have to negotiate the footbridge unaided otherwise and that is an unacceptably high risk.

It is not manned and there is no end-of platform run-off or evacuation point that is sign-posted So what did the manager's risk assessment achieve ?

On the point of permanent closure, UK railways are strictly regulated, and the manager cannot unilaterally elect to close the gate permanently without getting prior permission of the Regulator using a process which involves a phase of passenger consultation.

Appallingly poor passenger care - watch this space.

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Grangerover


Posts: 35
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #10
30-11-2007 02:51 PM

The notice about the closure was hardly high-visibility was it? I didn't see it until the night before the closure (and promptly forgot about it the next morning prompting a frantic dash around the other side and over the bridge!)

It will be immensely frustrating if there is no sign of any "maintenance work" having been done. Platform 2 is terribly inaccessible for anyone who has trouble with steps, so one would expect that gate to always be open except in emergencies.

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Forester


Posts: 15
Joined: Feb 2006
Post: #11
30-11-2007 03:39 PM

Southern's emailed response:

I have been in contact with the station manager who has advised me that the reason that this access gate has been closed is due to passenger counts being carried out for the forthcoming gating strategy.

Safety requirements will have been adhered to and emergency procedures followed if necessary. I am very sorry for the inconvenience caused.

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robwinton


Posts: 335
Joined: Jun 2006
Post: #12
30-11-2007 03:39 PM

I had seen a bigger poster (one of those 'informative' ones with nothing but text that you miss completely unless you are looking for them) on the station window the day before when I happened to be queuing and bothered to read backwards through the glass.

Who reads posters in that position - on the outside window of the station to the right of the ticket machine? No-one!

I would be prepared to put up with the inconvenience of the locked gate if they actually accomplished something by it. But as far as I can see, and I may yet be proven wrong and there may have been some invisible work done, shows a sheer lack of ANY customer consideration - certainly nothing that a meaningless repetition of the phrase like "I would like to apologise ... for the inconvenience caused .." will do anything to absolve.

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robwinton


Posts: 335
Joined: Jun 2006
Post: #13
30-11-2007 03:42 PM

Forester Wrote:
Southern's emailed response:

I have been in contact with the station manager who has advised me that the reason that this access gate has been closed is due to passenger counts being carried out for the forthcoming gating strategy.

Safety requirements will have been adhered to and emergency procedures followed if necessary. I am very sorry for the inconvenience caused.


[sorry, cross-post]

WHAT???

Firstly, there was NO count going on at any time I was there. Did anyone see one?

Secondly, they specifically mention "maintenance work" so they were either lying or incompetent.

Lastly, what a meaningless activity. If they need a passenger count, they also need to know how many are coming in from either side of the station to understand the customer flow and therefore the number of gates they require.

Total *******s!

Now I am really angry. Cursing

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Queenofdarts


Posts: 26
Joined: Nov 2006
Post: #14
30-11-2007 03:44 PM

It looks exactly the same to me... complete with the usual piles of litter and evidence of being used as a public convenience Sad

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michael


Posts: 3,196
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #15
30-11-2007 04:10 PM

How about putting up a poster apologising for misleading the public regarding the reason for locking the gate? However, I think we should be nice to them in advance of the 'forthcoming gating strategy'. I look forward to them opening the up the far end of the platform to provide direct (accessible) access to the car park.

But really, you do not generate a gating strategy by closing gates and counting passengers!

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robwinton


Posts: 335
Joined: Jun 2006
Post: #16
30-11-2007 04:13 PM

Written in a rush, but hopefully expressing my exasperation and send to comments@southernrailway.com

===============
Dear Sirs

I would like to raise some issues with you on several counts regarding a recent restriction of access to Forest Hill Station, London, SE23.

The gate to platform 2, a platform which is only accessible only through a back gate and via a footbridge with numerous steps either side, was closed on the 28th and 29th of November, 2007.

Disregarding the fact that our posters announcing this fact in advance were not particularly visible, there were small, A4 posters placed on the gate and at the bottom of these steps with the following wording:

?THIS GATE WILL BE CLOSED ON WEDNESDAY 28TH AND THURSDAY 29TH

THIS IS TO ALLOW MAINTENANCE WORK TO BE CARRIED OUT

I WOULD LIKE TO APOLOGISE ON BEHALF OF SOUTHERN FOR THE INCONVENIENCE CAUSED TO YOUR JOURNEYS

DAVID COATES
STATION MANAGER?
(photo attached)

My issues are as follows:

1. there was no evidence at all of any work having been carried out on this gate, the steps or the area surrounding it when it when it was reopened today
2. when the gate was shut there was no additional help on the platforms for travellers with prams or with mobility restrictions. I personally witnessed prams having to be carried by fellow passengers as the only means of leaving the platform for a young mother travelling alone.
3. there were no obvious alternative routes of escape for safety reasons, nor was there anyone on hand to advise of such
4. I have been led to believe that when this issue was raised with you by a fellow traveller, your response was as follows:

?I have been in contact with the station manager who has advised me that the reason that this access gate has been closed is due to passenger counts being carried out for the forthcoming gating strategy.
Safety requirements will have been adhered to and emergency procedures followed if necessary. I am very sorry for the inconvenience caused.?

* There was no evidence of any passenger count happening at the station at any time, particularly at off peak hours when a substantial number of less mobile passengers choose to travel.
* Can you provide any evidence that this actually took place to justify the inconvenience you claim to regret?
* If this was the case, how come you choose to close one of the main access points for the station? It would render any count meaningless as you have artificially skewed the results and lost data on the actual passenger flow between the front and rear access.
* In addition, how come this response does not match the station masters? own printed statement?

I am afraid that repetition of a phrase such as ?I am very sorry for the inconvenience caused? does not actually do anything to address the frustrations you are causing to passengers.

I would appreciate a more informed response to the reasons for the closure which I can share with other frustrated and confused Forest Hill station users

Yours faithfully

Robert McIntosh
Forest Hill, London

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gingernuts


Posts: 505
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #17
30-11-2007 04:24 PM

yes, the response I got was ......

Thank you for your email.

I have been in contact with the station manager who has advised me that the reason that this access gate has been closed is due to passenger counts being carried out for the forthcoming gating strategy.

I am very sorry for the inconvenience caused.

Regards

Samantha Hood
Southern Customer Services

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loca


Posts: 67
Joined: Sep 2007
Post: #18
30-11-2007 04:49 PM

I got the same:
Thank you for your email. I have been in contact with the station manager who has advised me that the reason that this access gate has been closed is due to passenger counts being carried out for the forthcoming gating strategy. I am very sorry for the inconvenience caused. Regards Samantha Hood Southern Customer Services

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gingernuts


Posts: 505
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #19
30-11-2007 04:51 PM

Well I've now asked for more information on the gating strategy. What's that all about then? Are they planning to close the back entrance permanently?

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jgdoherty


Posts: 275
Joined: Nov 2007
Post: #20
30-11-2007 09:34 PM

I agree with the levels of discontent expressed here.

The absence of any coherent response from Southern is of concern, especially in light of the e-mail response to "Forester" in which a conflicting claim to the reason for the closure was expressed by Southern.

It is less than re-assuring to hear a statement in the same response that "Safety requirements will have been adhered to and emergency procedures followed if necessary." when the writer cannot even establish consistency in the reasons for closure and thereby devalues her claims to good safety management.

How much more ambivalence can be espoused by Southern.

Their stated reasons for closure are inaccurately and ambiguously expressed. It negates any assurance offered by Southern that safety requirements have been properly assessed and adhered to.

It demonstrates that that there is is limited understanding on their part of their duty of care.

And another thing - the best piece of maintenance work that could have been carried out would have been to clean up the stairway and provide appropriate levels of lighting - and that did not hapen.

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