RUSH-hour train services from Coulsdon South are so unreliable that they're late to Clapham Junction up to 83 per cent of the time, statistics published last week show.
Network Rail performance data shows that in the 100 days to December 16 seven peak services, between 7.33am and 9.23am were more than five minutes late to Clapham 52 per cent of the time.
One service, the 8.27am, made the journey more than five minutes late, the maximum target set by the Government, an enormous 83 per cent of the time. The journey is timetabled to take just 21 minutes, but runs an average of 11 minutes late.
Chris Philp, Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for Croydon South, provided the figures to the Advertiser and described the performance as "totally unacceptable". He added: "These delays cause people to miss connections at Clapham Junction and be late for work," he said. Southern Railway must take urgent steps to improve the reliability of the service. People rely on the train to get to and from work, and need to be able to trust that it will be on time."
Mr Philp pointed out that improvements are slated for the peak service at the station by 2018 as part of the Thameslink programme.
Southern has admitted the performance has been "disappointing" and apologised to passengers for the inconvenience the delays have caused.
A spokesman for the franchise, which is due to be amalgamated into the Govia Thameslink Railway next year, laid the blame at Thameslink improvement works taking place around London Bridge.
Referring to the 8.27am service, he said: "Looking back as far as July, the train was an average of four minutes late, however since September that average has increased to an average of ten minutes.
"Our team has studied the performance of this service and the majority of the time it is affected by reactionary delays from incidents involving other trains, losing time on the busy stretch of track between Coulsdon and Clapham.
"Although not the sole cause, the worsening of performance since September can be linked to the capacity challenges around London Bridge during the Thameslink Programme, which have resulted in fewer platforms and less routes into the station being available to Southern services."
Charles King, chairman of East Surrey Transport Committee, said he would be raising the issue, along with further problems about cancellations and clearing leaves from station areas, with the group's meeting with Govia in January.
He said he was concerned about the levels of staffing on the line and said things may be slackening at the franchise ahead of its amalgamation with Govia Thameslink.
"I do hope this isn't a case of end-of-franchise-itis," he said.
"It's a difficult time for Southern with all the works going on around London Bridge."
Last week, rail minister Claire Perry condemned performance of services along the Brighton mainline as "unacceptable".