COMMUTER Claire Sellars has criticised delays on South West Trains for forcing her to take a taxi to work 12 times in the past year.
The 40-year-old is angry after forking out £17 a time to catch a taxi from Havant to Petersfield because of trains being fast-routed to London. Miss Sellars, a supermarket worker, normally catches the 4.46am train from Havant to Petersfield.
But on numerous occasions, following her half-hour walk to the railway station, an announcement is made over the tannoy that the train is not stopping at destinations like Rowlands Castle, Petersfield and Liphook.
The problem is normally over-running engineering works.
It leaves Miss Sellars scrambling around to get a taxi to start her shift at 5.30am.
Miss Sellars, of Furzedown Crescent, West Leigh, who pays £1,208 a year for a season ticket, is not happy and wrote to her MP, David Willetts, to complain.
She said: ‘It’s not about the compensation. It’s more to do with the lack of information and the way they run their morning service. Because there is no alternative, it just seems their customer service is pretty poor.
‘All I want is a system that works and gets me to work in the morning. If I am paying them £1,200 a year, I expect them to honour that.
‘I want them to communicate better and in a timely fashion.
‘If engineering works are over-running, they must know they are over-running at 3am.’
She added: ‘When you are on little more than the minimum wage, I am working half my shift for nothing.
‘If they were to communicate better and put it on their website, I could at least get a taxi from home and save myself a fiver.
‘I am having to walk half an hour to the station to find out it’s been cancelled.’
Mr Willetts wrote to the train company’s managing director Tim Shoveller and said it ‘seemed odd’ that trains fast-routed to London are counted as ‘punctual’.
In his letter Mr Shoveller said he was ‘sorry to learn of the inconvenience’ to Miss Sellars.
He said: ‘Being the first train up in the morning it is regretfully particularly vulnerable to alterations and late running due to overnight engineering works.
‘The train is more vulnerable to delays caused by over-running engineering works by our Alliance partners Network Rail.’
Mr Shoveller added the train was affected by level crossings on the Portsmouth line.
‘The first train has to run at caution over level crossings between Petersfield and Haslemere to make sure they are working properly,’ he said.
‘The removal of stops is a control decision on the day and is for “the greater good”; to avoid delaying many more trains in the congested London area.’
He said commuters are eligible for ‘void days’ when there is severe disruption.
But Miss Sellars said this amounted to a discount of around £10 on her last season ticket.
She added: ‘There needs to be some sort of ombudsman.
‘They are the arbiters of these rules. It seems they can do as they please.’
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