Having received a rather pathetic letter of apology for service disruptions from the CEO of Southern Railway, I would like to reply in public.
As a long-time customer who has paid thousands and thousands of pounds into this service, I am utterly appalled by the way Southern have handled this dispute and allowed the service to disintegrate to the point of being so unreliable that I no longer use it.
I have followed the arguments of all sides, and spoken with staff on stations and platforms, and with other customers.
Staff have shown up to drive and conduct trains, only to have them cancelled anyway, followed by announcements blaming staff shortages.
Ticket office services have been cut way back, nothing to do with guards. Reimbursements to customers are not being processed. Having experienced frequent anti-social behaviour on the lines I travel, which are short trains selected for driver-only operation, I am grateful for the presence of guards to keep the peace and deal with troublemakers. Removing the guards would put passengers at increased risk.
The Department for Transportation has been shameful in standing on the sidelines. If this is what privatisation means, I would rather have a national rail service that can be held to account by citizens.