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A very unpleasant experience with Southern Rail staff at Clapham Junction

Blog by Chris. This blog and its content reflect the views of the author only.

This week something extremely unpleasant happened to me at Clapham Junction Station, where I was trying to catch a train on Platform 15. The member of staff I approached to ask for assistance behaved with shocking and deeply insulting rudeness and unhelpfulness.

I asked him for ramp assistance onto a train to my destination. I spoke clearly and audibly. He totally ignored me. He made no gesture, uttered not a single word, and walked away to a spot far off on the platform where he stood and did absolutely nothing for a good long while.

Because he had left me uncertain as to whether he was going to provide me with any assistance at all, I eventually approached him. At this point he grimaced, and snarled at me angrily that I should move to another part of the platform. It wasn’t clear why he wanted me to do this.

I asked him whether he had heard my earlier request. He said yes, of course he had. I said it was courteous, if someone speaks to you, not to ignore them and walk away, but to acknowledge them with some sort of response.

At this he unleashed a torrent of angry abuse at me, with a breathtaking level of rudeness, his face again contorted with rage.

I have encountered this particular employee before on the same platform, and he has behaved with this extreme level of anger and rudeness on more than one previous occasion.

I raised a complaint with Southern Rail about his behaviour on a previous occasion, and their response was:

“I have passed on your comments to our Escalations team, who will get in touch with the appropriate manager, so that the issue can be investigated and the necessary action can be taken. I can ensure you that complaints regarding staff behaviour are dealt with as a matter of priority and are taken very seriously.“

Nothing about this man’s appalling behaviour has changed in the time since I raised that earlier complaint. Whatever “necessary action” was taken to improve his behaviour failed to make any change whatsoever. I do not believe that Southern Rail takes this sort of behaviour at all seriously.

What these incidents show is that our fight for an equal right to travel is not just about infrastructure. It’s also, absolutely crucially, about changing and improving the behaviour of the staff we have to interact with in order to make a successful journey.

Rudeness and unhelpfulness and angry tirades from staff, apart from being totally unprofessional, make a journey horribly stressful and upsetting, and will certainly deter some people from using public transport when it is their absolute right to use it without this harassment.

If you ever come across this sort of unprofessional behaviour from transport staff, please do report it to Transport for All, who will take up your case with the relevant transport provider, and will fight for your right to travel with the same freedom, flexibility, ease, comfort and spontaneity as everyone else.

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