Southern Rail – I’m invoicing you for wasted time from now on

mrnorrischangestrains_pbAs noted in my last post Ashley and I are suburbanites once again and dealing with the commuting our new countryside lifestyle necessitates.

Although not as nice as the leisurely strolls to work I could enjoy while living in the centre of Brighton, our commuting setup is not too bad in the grand scheme of things – except for one gigantic spanner in the works.

Southern Rail.

Since my last bout of commuterdom the service has become markedly worse, to the point where it is routinely making me late for work and disrupting my evening plans. In fact, since I’ve been riding the train again (for the last three weeks) they have actually been delayed more often than they have been on time. In typical fashion, I’ve been moaning my head off on Twitter.

The straw that broke the camel’s back came this weekend when, after a delightful Sunday lunch in Brighton it came time to take the train home. We arrived back at Brighton station to a heaving mass of travellers staring expectantly at the departures board. A bored-sounding man announced that due to an electrical fault trains on the London to Brighton mainline were subject to delay or cancellation. We joined the waiting throng and grumbled.

It’s worth noting at this point that our train into Brighton was also delayed, although only by about 10 minutes.

In relatively short order the bored-sounding man came back over the PA system to announce that a train – one solitary train – would shortly be pulling into the station and would be going north. Chaos erupted in the station forecourt as everybody surged towards the barriers to board this train heading north. Nobody knew where it was stopping or when it was leaving, they just knew they had to be on it.

Souther Rail suck
Sunday’s maudlin scenes

It eventually became clear the train was an express and would only be stopping at Gatwick Airport, East Croydon and London Victoria. It wouldn’t be stopping where we needed to go, but the staff at the station recommended we went up to Gatwick and changed, as they “honestly couldn’t say” when the next train would be arriving.

We rode up to Gatwick and managed to hop on a train heading back in the right direction. All told this little detour cost us just over an hour.

We thought we had it bad. Later that day I spoke to my sister who had spent three hours trying to get back down south from London. She too had to get a train to Gatwick, change, and then was told to board a Brighton train which actually terminated half way to Brighton. Her train was so packed that a man passed out.

The horror

If my broadband worked less than 50% of the time, I would change providers. If my lights came on ten to twenty minutes after I flipped the switch, I would get my electrics sorted out.

Unlike all my other expenses, train travel is something I have zero control over. Apart from rent, it’s my biggest expense.

Southern Rail offer token recompense for delayed trains, promising a refund if your train is cancelled or delayed by 30 minutes or more. Of course during rush hour trains run every few minutes, so if your train is delayed that long chances are another one will turn up in the meantime.

Claiming refunds if you have a season ticket is, depending on who you speak to, bloody hard or completely impossible.

My solution

Since Southern seem reluctant to compensate their long-suffering customers for their almost inconceivably poor service, I have come up with my own solution. From this week I will be documenting every delayed train to which I am subjected, and at the end of every month I will be sending Southern Rail an invoice for the time I have wasted waiting on them.

I’ll be charging a middle-of-the-road freelance rate (£35 per hour). By my calculations they owe me over £100 this month already.

Southern Rail – consider this your notice. UK trains are anti-competitive to the point of farce (thanks Major), are the most expensive and unreliable in Europe, and this is going to be my own little stinky protest.

Running invoice

A few people have asked (and I considered it anyway), so here’s an embed of the current spreadsheet (it should update live whenever I add a new entry).

13 thoughts on “Southern Rail – I’m invoicing you for wasted time from now on

  1. Hallo Jon I’m afraid this may be a waste of your time as you are entering in a contract when you buy your train tickets and southern will have every loophole covered in order to make it impossible for you to charge them any money for loss of your time. You may as well start painting trains with graffiti. The cost to buff just one carridge will even things out.

    1. I did – I got a rather short reply back that they weren’t required to pay under the something-something legislation. Basically they have their asses covered legally – but I still think it’s worth highlighting their god-awful service wherever possible.

  2. They are an absolute Joke

    It is disgusting – the fares are extortionate and always rising.

    Where does the fare money go ? Into their fat pockets!

    Basic rail equipment is not kept up to date so we are subjected to regular delays that has a huge financial and emotional effect on so many of us normal people.

    I a self employed and have lost so much money due to missing meetings at short notice. I would say 1/4 of all my journeys are cancelled or delayed and I travel at least twice a day

    Surely something can be done ? Should we be making an online petition ? Getting MP’s involved ? We have to make a stand!


  3. Hi, every time i used to check web site posts here in the early hours
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  4. hi everyone i just have to say that southern trains offer the worst ever service be it travelling on the 8.32 am which made me 10 minutes late for work this morning as it did not arrive until 8,42 am.
    Or the 17.23 which has been late and cancelled 3 times this week due to the most common problem a signal failure the other one which i have heard twice now is the 17.23 train service to london bridge is being delayed this is due to awaiting a member of the crew.
    Maybe they are also catching a train run by southern
    And just to let everyone know this is the service that calls through battersea park

    1. Something I have not shared is that my father was an amateur phhergoapotr in the early part of the 20th century. I still have some of his equipment. This was well before I came into his life! I do have boxes of his photographs. One day I may have the talent to do what you are doing!

  5. Can we organise a protest at the station or something. I can’t take the on average 20 minute delays to most journeys to and from Brighton. The fares are extortionate. The 52 minute service to Victoria is mythic. I have lived here 5 years and never ever have I taken that journey in the legendary 52 f***ing minutes. The fact that they get away with this literally every day with their pitiful “sorry for the delay to your journey – this was caused by (a) an electrical fault, (b) a fault with the door, (c) a member of staff being ill, (d) any old bull that we can think of…” is salt in the wound. There is literally no accountability for our journeys. And we take it.

  6. On the 24/12/2015, I missed my flight due to Southern Trains cancellation.

    I requested a refund and Southern Railway replied:
    “Unfortunately we can not refund the costs incurred as a result of your delay but we can refund you for the cost of your ticket.”

    I had to pay extra £305 to reach my destination – 10 hours later and I ended up spending Christmas evening in a train with a sandwich for Christmas dinner…

    I paid £305 and they can refund £8.60.

    Does anyone know who I need to contact to claim the full costs incurred as a result of Southern train cancellation please?

  7. They’re privatised, so they’re only answerable to the share holders, and they’re doing well apparently :S Privatising will make it cheaper and more efficient they said, when has it ever done that in reality?

    I’ve just missed another class I’d paid £80 in advance for 8 of, missed three in a month now, due to problems/cancellations with the trains.

    1. Depende a qué le llames resultado, mejor dicho que es lo que esperes.A mi me funciona con eso de uno por día, salvo los fines de semana, aunque a veces salteo un día hábil y posteo el sábado o domingo.Si querés ganar guita, te diría que labures en otra cosa, esto no paga, salvo que seas muy groso y tengas ganas de invertir en pucdibidal, pagar reviews, y vivir pegado al blog posteando a lo loco.

  8. In 1970 I travelled daily on Southern Railways between Chichester and Worthing to attend Art College. Utterly unreliable, hours spent in waiting rooms for trains that never turned up, trains arriving hours late and leaving you marooned in the middle of the night inexplicably in Littlehampton…my daughter has just spent over four hours getting to us from South London, arriving on a train due to terminate at Southampton that abandoned its travellers at Fareham, regardless of their onward travelling plans from airport or dock in Southampton. Astonishingly Southern Trains seem have managed the awesome feat of absolutely no improvement whatsoever in their standard of service, despite nearly fifty years of customer complaint,protest, disgust and inconvenience, despite raising fares, despite new rolling stock, despite technological advances. Amazing commitment to crap service.

  9. U are all very funny people
    For ur info the money for tickets all goes to the dft (department for transport) yes thats right all fares fromtickets goes to the government
    Ever wondered why the government dont step in well its because they are making millions in profit
    As for signalling equipment track problems or any other infrastructure issues they all come down to network rail again nothing to do with southern
    As for the repayment from delays u people make me laugh
    Of i drive to london and ther is an accident an i am stuck in traffic for 5 hours an miss whatever i was going to do, who pays for my petrol or time wasted or expenses
    Thats right no one same with a bus same with a plane but for some reason people on trains seem to feel entilted to claim money due to the above reasons.

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