It all seemed like a carefully planned PR strategy: lay into London commuter trains, endearing yourself to the sleep-deprived masses and diverting attention from the troubles on your own services. But now TfL boss Sir Peter Hendy has backpedalled on comments he made in an MT interview.
‘On Southeastern the trains are like the Wild West. They are shit, awful. And then every now and then some people who look like the Gestapo get on and fine everyone they can. It doesn't improve your day, does it?,’ he told MT’s deputy editor Andrew Saunders.
Now he has written a grovelling apology to David Brown, chief executive of the Go-Ahead Group, which owns Southeastern, and David Statham, its managing director, to apologise to the train line’s employees.
‘I am quoted in Management Today being offensive about Southeastern trains and its staff. My comment is unjustified and excessive and I apologise,’ he wrote in a private email obtained by the Press Association and confirmed by TfL.
‘I know everyone there is doing their best to offer a good service in the context of the franchise you have and the infrastructure you operate on,’ he continued. ‘If there is a context, the interview was several weeks ago during the worst of the issues at London Bridge. But that's not an excuse. Passion is no excuse for insult. Sorry.’
So hopefully diplomatic relations will now be restored. After all, it may not have been the most tactful thing to say but an awful lot of commuters agreed with his sentiments. Services on London's crowded, oft-delayed and expensive commuter rail lines are desperately in need of improvement.