Southeastern struggles in BBC interview

“Is a website that’s giving the wrong information any better than a website that’s crashed?”

If you’re stuck inside this Friday night and you’re a fan of uncomfortable interviews, you’ve come to the right place. After two days of avoiding live interviews with the BBC’s regional news programme for Kent, South East Today, spokeswoman Sarah Boundy took part in a recorded interview with presenter Polly Evans.

For those of us in London (who were treated to a suit from the train operators’ association on BBC London News) and anyone else who missed it, you can see it in its full 10-minute glory here.

See how long you can last without wincing. It took me about 50 seconds. Here’s a quick flavour of it.

Polly Evans: “You can’t blame the weather for your bad communications, can you?”

Sarah Boundy: “I think most people appreciate when there’s ice and snow that because of the third rail network we have in this area, there will be delays and cancellations…”

It makes me wonder if Southeastern’s PR team actually travel on their railway – prattling on about your website is all very well, but if it gives you misleading information about your specific train, you’re going to be pissed off. Four days into the disruption, the information boards at stations are still not telling anybody anything useful. Yet all this seems to be happening on a different world to that inhabited by Southeastern.

For all the grimly sticking to pre-prepared lines about the website, Sarah Boundy may as well have just said “the dog ate my homework”.

Hold on to the end when Polly Evans gets a good line in about fare rises… ouch.

Adding to the sense that Southeastern has learned nothing from January’s snowfall, after four days of severely restricted service, the company is planning a normal service tomorrow – a Saturday – despite widespread ice and fog due overnight. This is what happened in January – three days of “emergency timetable” followed by a miraculous return to form on a Saturday.

(Since I need to be elsewhere early tomorrow, they’d better have a miraculous return to form since I don’t fancy a Siberian march to North Greenwich Tube…)

Finally, you may like to take a look at the 11.10am entry in the Guardian’s UK! snow! chaos! liveblog! which bears a striking resemblance to some of the themes dealt with here over the past few days. I’ll take it as a compliment…


  1. Ouch! That is a truly painful interview… though I almost admire her for continuing to defend the indefensible…

    I’m off to see the mighty Derby County tomorrow, so I’m also hoping for a miraculous return to form at Charlton station in the morning… I’m not banking on it though!

    P.S. I only discovered the blog a couple of months ago, but it’s great, I love it, so keep up the good work!

  2. Painful.

    I don’t think that anyone chooses to be a Southeastern Railway customer. They don’t get better and we pay more. I am glad though that they did an interview and didn’t continue to hide behind ATOC

  3. Just a few posters, or even handwritten notices, at stations with indicative times of when a half hourly service could be passing through would have been something.
    At least then people could have made a more informed judgement about what to try to do.

    The one time I did attempt to use the contingency service, rather than bus and tube, the most advice I was able to get at Waterloo East was to go to London Bridge and try from there.
    That said, the Waterloo information boards were at least (and finally) displaying some services and times last night – albeit about three days too late.

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