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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Southern Rail causes house price drop

Southern Rail's complete and utter inability to put its house in order has caused house prices to slow down across the network, research by online estate agent, has proved.

The research has found that house price growth across the Southern Rail network has increased at a slower rate than England as a whole; all the while this network covers some of the most popular areas to live for commuters into London.

This means we Greater Londoners and Home Counties commuters are essentially paying over-the-odds for property near a train line that isn't going to help us get to work on time.
Commuters looking for missing Southern Rail trains

A year ago this month Southern Rail was voted in the top three worst rail providers by commuters. It's hardly a surprise.

Even two years ago when London Bridge was undergoing repairs, Southern trains were delayed getting into the station. Sometimes they didn't leave the station.

On more than one occasion, I remained sitting on a train to go home, waiting for 10, 15 minutes before we were told there was no available driver and therefore the train was cancelled. (Next one in an hour's time). Sometimes they had locked the doors with us on a train that was going nowhere. Such fun!

Since then Southern Rail and its fatcat owner Govia has undoubtedly become Britain’s most hated, with commuters unlucky enough to have to rely on their service becoming subject to more than nine months of commuting chaos since the strike action really kicked in.

Why are they striking?
I can't blame the Southern drivers for striking. There are meant to be three drivers available to cover each shift. One to drive, one to be on call and one to be on a day off/holiday. This means if driver A is sick, driver B can take over. 

However Southern Rail's nasty, greedy little bosses decided to run this on a shoestring and reduce available driver cover. I've got several driver friends who have been on annual leave and called up and asked if they can cover for someone. One of my friends was in SPAIN and received a phone call asking them to cut their holiday short and come to work.

Meanwhile, overtime pay has been cut. So drivers have had to be working extra shifts with no money. Add to this Southern Rail now wants to make drivers responsible for doing the job of a train/platform guard and watch the doors.

Instead of putting extra carriages and hiring more staff (they've pledged just 100 staff for more than 2,400 trains a day on the network), they want drivers on 40% (900) of their trains to do a double job.

Essentially, instead of the driver concentrating on the signals ahead and getting the train ready to leave the station, he or she also now has to make sure doors and yellow lines are clear. 

How can a driver look at the signal ahead AND look at the monitors to check people are not standing in front of a yellow line? This is a HUGE health and safety issue

They are right to strike. It's really annoying and making it a misery for all of us, but when you consider the seriousness of this, it's understandable.

And no, you don't get paid for strike days. You get that money deducted from your payslip. So they're not getting paid for striking.

Anyway, enough of the boldification of phrases. Apologies for getting all Moran-ish. No need for such sulky English prose.

House prices

But back to house prices. Some employers have already refused applicants using a Southern Rail service as the reality is that they will often arrive to work late. Thank goodness I have an understanding boss (who uses Southern herself).

But not only are commuters’ professional lives being impacted, it would seem property prices along Southern Rail commuter lines are also suffering.

It might look idyllic but there's little joy for people living near a Southern Rail train line
Using data from Zoopla, eMoov collected the average price paid and value change surrounding each station across all nine of the Southern Rail network lines. 

The research looked at the price growth over the last 12 months, as well as the last six, comparing each line on Southern Rail and the network as a whole, to price growth across England during the same time periods.

The research by eMoov shows that house prices across England have increased by 7.6 per cent  in the last year. But for those living across the Southern Rail network, property price growth reached just 6.5 per cent in the same period.

More notable is the difference in growth in the last six months alone. Across England, homeowners enjoyed an average increase of 3 per cent in property values. But those unfortunate enough to live on the Southern Rail network saw the average property price growth fall by more than half, increasing by just 1.4 per cent overall.

But the salt in the wound is the cost of the property itself. With an average price of £447,539 across the Southern Rail network, homeowners are paying far above the national average of £222,300 (according to data from the Halifax), only for its potential to be blighted by an external factor such as an inadequate train operator.

I've seen this affect two properties on the Southern Rail route already. Here's a salutary tale. Last year, my friend in Sutton put her house on the market at £420,000. 

Despite Sutton being one of the most popular places over the past year or so, the house has dropped in price twice - and is now at £380,000. That's a £40,000 drop in the past few weeks as people put commuting time and ease higher and higher up their list of priorities.

Russell Quirk, the founder and chief executive of eMoov, said: "This research really highlights the impact external factors can have on a property’s value in the market. Often, the close proximity of good commuter links into London, in particular, can help increase the asking price of a property.

"In this instance, strike action, poor service, cancelled trains and long delays have had the reverse effect to property prices on the Southern Rail network. It is worrying to think that something outside of your control can not only be detrimental to your work life but can also spill over into your personal life as well.

"Southern Rail staff must forgive UK homeowners for remaining unsympathetic to their cause when their selfish actions are inadvertently depreciating the most expensive asset they are ever likely to own."

When I wrote a news story about this earlier today, it got a lot of traction on Twitter. As one person commented: 'How about Southern Rail compensate people for the loss of house price growth?'



Electro-Kevin said...

To tell you the truth that region was always terrible for rail and I left there as soon as I could. Thank you for a measured and well tempered article bearing in mind the stress that the whole situation must be causing you.

The issue I hear with Southern is not that they are against DOO per se (which Aslef/RMT have accepted elsewhere) but that the system is not up to standard. Cameras/mirrors misting, cameras turning off before doors can be checked. Perhaps your friends know more. I worked DOO for many years.

An Aslef driver is about to be tried at Crown Court over a trap and drag incident at Hayes and Harlington and that's under a system which is good.

Incidentally an excellent blog to read on TfL disputes is Aslef Shrugged. According to him the issue of unions refusing to accept ticket machines has another dimension to it. The staff being made redundant from ticket offices have secondary roles in assisting Driver Only Operation on the underground for contingencies and emergencies and they were part of the original agreements.

Electro-Kevin said...

I have responded to your Nick Kennerley post. Very sad news indeed.

Mermaid of Moorgate said...

I am in favour of unions and the work of the union in promoting health and safety and ensuring productivity is met with proper remuneration, without bullying etc. So I am not going to blame the unions.

What you've said adds more fuel to this fire - Southern feel they can sack people willy-nilly without this causing more strain on remaining staff. I'll have a look at Aslef Shrugged, thanks for the heads-up.