Tunbridge Wells trains on track for cancellations but punctuality remains a problem

With 5,800 passengers streaming through its doors each day, Tunbridge Wells is the 181st busiest railway station in the country, but it has beaten the national average by recording only one per cent of trains being cancelled over the past six months. The UK average is three per cent.

According to the website On Time Trains, Tunbridge Wells placed 1,347 out of 2,633 stations, faring better than nearby High Brooms.

However, data also suggested there was still room for improvement. Only 54 per cent of trains were on time over the past six months. Forty-five per cent of trains at Tunbridge Wells were at least one minute late compared to 41 per cent of trains nationally.

Many of those who commute from Tunbridge Wells into London have expressed their displeasure at poor train punctuality.

Sharon Wood, an IT Manager who regularly travels by train to work, said: “It may only be late by a few minutes, but that often affects my waiting taxi.

“By the time the train arrives, my taxi has moved on to other appointments. I must then wait for another taxi, which holds me up by at least half an hour. That means I could miss the start of a meeting, which doesn’t look great – especially when I am asking my staff to be on time.”

However, train operator Southeastern has committed to improving waiting times for Tunbridge Wells residents. Scott Brightwell, Operations and Safety Director at Southeastern, said: “I would like to reassure customers in Tunbridge Wells and across the network that we are committed to delivering a more reliable and sustainable service.

“We are working closely with Network Rail to improve both punctuality and reliability… Our joint performance strategy is targeted to improve those areas that have impacted Tunbridge Wells and elsewhere, such as track, signals, train reliability and trespass…

“We are now seeing improved performance on our network with almost 70 per cent of trains arriving within 59 seconds of their scheduled time, almost 90 per cent within three minutes and 99 per cent within 15 minutes.”

Mr Brightwell acknowledged train delays could be frustrating to commuters.

“If customers are delayed by 15 minutes we now offer automated delay repay to ensure customers can quickly and easily claim any compensation,” he said.

Weekend trains have seen a better performance, with 67 per cent of trains arriving on time. Sunday, it seems, is the best day for a visit to the town, with 7 out of 10 services rolling in on schedule.

This data follows news that more than 680,000 responses were submitted to a consultation on proposals for a widespread closure of railway ticket offices, Transport Focus and London TravelWatch said.

Concerns were raised by the public and ‘stakeholders’ around the impact on accessibility, safety and security, issues with ticket machines, and how stations will be staffed in future, the watchdogs said.

As the Times previously reported, Tunbridge Wells Station is among those considered for closure, despite being one of the most used in the Southeastern network.

Transport Focus and London TravelWatch will analyse the proposals and consultation responses before responding to train operators by the end of October.

If the watchdogs object to plans to close certain stations, the operators can refer their proposals to Transport Secretary Mark Harper for a final decision.

Operators are bidding to shut nearly all station ticket offices in England. This follows pressure from the Government for cost savings following the drop in revenue caused by the Covid pandemic.

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