Last week I was compelled to travel on one of your trains from Sevenoaks to Tunbridge Wells. The compartment was no more than usually crowded but I must say I have never been so overwhelmed by the raw musk of humanity as when I unwittedly boarded your train. Even the stews of Minsk pale in comparison to the foetid and seminal odour of the communal seating areas. I was forced to retreat to the lavatory, which was not in use and therefore – ironically – free of the rank pungency that pervaded the rest of the train.
I can only assume that a fatal illness has devastated your cleaning staff. Either that or I had just missed a mass rutting session amongst the passengers not equaled since the orgy-filled days of Caligula.
I shall in future take the coach.
Thank you for getting in touch in regards to your comaplint (sic).
We have only a finite number of trains and every carriage that can be used is used during peak times. This of course excludes those trains that are undergoing required maintenance.
There are many reasons for short forming of trains, such as mechanical faults or disruption, although we do try to avoid running trains with fewer carriages than advertised where possible. Regrettably though, we are still in a position where there are some peak time trains that are booked to travel with the minimum number of carriages. We try to avoid this where possible however, we believe that given a choice to run short or not at all, most customers would prefer the short formation rather than none, even though we do know it will likely be very full.
It’s disappointing to read your comments about the condition of your train, as we understand how our trains are presented is very important to our customers. Cleanliness is always vital and so we’ve looked at how we clean the fleet and introduced some improvements.
Additional staff have been employed and we have invested in ‘medical grade’ steam cleaning equipment which we are using to clean toilets, floors and upholstery. The cleaning team have had their responsibilities changed around and they will now be carrying out mobile cleaning. This is in addition to our usual turnaround teams carrying out cleaning at bigger or terminus stations, specifically London Victoria, London Bridge, Eastbourne, Uckfield, Tattenham Corner and Brighton. Some of the team will hand wash trains at the depot overnight which is time consuming, but gives excellent results.
The next step of the process is to maintain this level of cleanliness. On the Southern network the entire fleet will undergo deep cleaning on a fixed regular cycle to keep up the standards we want for our customers.
We do hope following our significant investment and with the new cleaning methods in place customers should see a real improvement. Once again thank you for your feedback ‘ it’s really important to us and allows us to target our efforts in this area to ensure every train is cleaned to the right standard.
We have been advised by the RMT Union that its Southern conductor members will hold further strike action on Saturday 8th April.
For further information on how your journey may be impacted if you are connecting with a Southern service please visit our strike customer advice page at www.southernrailway.com/RMTstrike
David Quantick won an Emmy as part of the writing team on Veep, a BAFTA for Harry Hill’s TV Burp and a Writers’ Guild Award for The Thick of It.
His recent books How To Write Everything and How to be A Writer (Oberon) are indispensable, accessible and funny. He has written for everyone from The Duke of Edinburgh to Chris Morris. He writes and appears on ‘The Now Show’, writes ‘The 15 Minute Musical’ (both for Radio 4), as well as his own radio shows, ‘The Blagger’s Guide’ for Radio 2, and ‘One’ and ‘52 First Impressions’, both on Radio 4.
David is a much-admired music journalist, cultural commentator and an acclaimed best-selling author thanks to the Grumpy Old Men series of books and his new thriller The Mule, which was published through Unbound. He wrote the comedy drama, Snodgrass, starring Ian Hart, which is currently being developed as a feature and he’s been commissioned to write a new play for Northern Stage.