fredag 30 maj 2008

Brighton line train services continue to get better

Plastic Pig at Brighton, originally uploaded by seadipper.

The train services on the Brighton line have gone on getting better under Southern, the Govia group company that holds the franchise.

It took over a mess from Connex, the company that was thrown out. New trains being delivered from Bombardier had a host of teething troubles and were - and remain - essentially unsuitable for this service, being a suburban design of train on a long-distance route. But the teething troubles seem to have been sorted out and with a few interior changes in specification from the originals, it is nearly always possible to find a comfortable seat outside the rush hour. The trains are always cleaned to a high standard, and the windows are not scratched. Punctuality is generally good as well. And the stations are clean and tidy too.

Problems with the ticket machines have also been addressed. This are primarily due to a poor interface and software, but apparently it is in compliance with some national standard which gives limited opportunities for the company to deal with what is wrong. But more machines have now been installed so at least passengers are not delayed behind people who are standing in front of them trying to fathom out how to buy a ticket, and there is no need to arrive ten minutes before in order to be sure of catching your train. A big improvement that could be made would be to modify the machine so that station names can be typed in from the keypad used for the PIN numbers (like a mobile phone keypad) instead of having to use the flakey on-screen keyboard.

A further improvement is due in the autumn with the introduction of trains transferred from the Bournemouth line and no longer wanted by South West trains. The train on the left in the orange SWT livery is in Brighton depot, presumably for staff training. If they don't try to cram in too many seats, the use of these trains - which at one time looked likely to go for scrap - should be a big improvement for passengers on the Brighton line

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