A Connections policy at Ashford
We are concerned that passengers are missing connections at Ashford because there is no effective policy to deal with late running trains. The complaints we have received relate to down trains, especially during the non-peak periods when missing a connection by a few seconds results in a wait of an hour. Up trains have not created any problems reported to us: in fact, we know of one case (an excellent example of good communication) where the Southern conductor announced to passengers that, although the MarshLink train was late, the Javelin train was also late and the connection could be made.
There have been some very frustrated passengers who have been on a late-running train from London and who have missed, by seconds, the connecting train from Ashford along the MarshLink – in some cases, the departing train left a few seconds before the scheduled departure. We appreciate departing a few seconds before scheduled is permitted but, we suggest, not when the incoming connecting train is late and passengers could get onto the train if departure was held until the scheduled time.
We also believe there should be some latitude given to the station manager and train staff to provide more time for the connection, within reason. What period is reasonable is a matter of judgement and track speed (see Line Speed improvements), perhaps as long as 5 minutes.
As a related point, our concern is also that there is a lack of communication between the SouthEastern and Southern staff at Ashford who should be aware of the impending disconnect and should then be able to apply a connections policy. There used to be a published connections policy which we would like to be re-introduced.
As an alternative to a connections policy (which MLAG knows Southern is against), we would suggest the speed restrictions on the MarshLink (between Ashford and Rye) are re-assessed and any improved journey time used to delay the departure from Ashford.