17 January 2016 | Phil Rogers

Period 9 PPM Posters or #PPMgate

Nearly two weeks ago, as part of my work with Dartford Rail Travellers’ Association, I raised to our contact at Southeastern that the Period 9 poster they had up at Charing Cross had the same numbers, albeit rounded to 2 decimal places and not 1, as the Period 8 stats on their website.

I also posted the details up as the first post of four on this subject ‘PPM Posters - What can you trust?’

We were told that this would be investigated, and I kept up the pressure via social media to get to the bottom of this apparent mistake.

A week later, our ‘Public Affairs Manager’ contact at Southeastern got back to us, stating that the figures were ‘independently audited’, and he was ‘satisfied they are accurate’. This was in the context of the ongoing conversation about the PPM posters at stations.

I, however, was not satisfied that they could in any way be accurate, and made this statement, with a rather big challenge… ‘“Independently audited” PPM stats from Southeastern: Lies’

Let’s have a meeting

Of course, the standard response from Southeastern to divert attention/sweep an issue under the carpet, was to suggest that this is best resolved in a meeting.

Email, as we all know is fast, and you can get the message across quickly. A meeting involves having spare time to go to a meeting, one that is sadly lacking in the lives of myself and my co-founder at DRTA.

Mike suggested that the raw stats are available so we can examine these ‘independently audited’ figures for ourselves.

So… we issued a press release to highlight the problem. Sadly the press didn’t pick up on a very clear piece of misleading information from Southeastern.

One final attempt

After finding the 2015 Period 1-6 stats on Saturday evening, I spent Sunday morning doing the maths for the actual split between lines…the only way the poster could make sense is if the HS1 stats contributed to -20% of the stats.

Since we had no response to the last email, I also confirmed that the stats would help me understand their assertion that the data in the posters were accurate

An apology

Within an hour of my emails we received an apology and a confirmation that the posters were, indeed, wrong - ‘PPM posters: A response and apology from Southeastern’

At last. That’s all that we were looking for…an admission of a simple mistake…we all make mistakes, but admitting to it is sometimes hard…

Why is this important?

The PPM figures are an indicator of how Southeastern are performing. They are required as part of their franchise agreement to communicate this with users of their service.

Their own Passenger Charter states that these will be available at selected stations as posters, and also on their website.

To date they have not posted up the actual Period 9 figures anywhere - the posters don’t count. And a week after Period 10 ended, these figures are also not available to the public.

Customers want to know this information, and what is presented to them should be factually correct.

It wasn’t.

And, as per usual, we experienced the ‘fobbing off’, that I regularly tweet about.

The attitudes at Southeastern need to change: both to their customers, and their stakeholders.

That £250?

The money I put on the table will be going to charity…and I’ll tweet about that soon - I just need to finish that website which was sidelined by the PPM discussion and also setting up this group.

I’d hope that Southeastern, or their Public Affairs Manager would see fit to match it.

I, however, won’t hold my breath.


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UK Govt petition to remove franchise from Southeastern
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Dartford Rail Travellers' Association