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Would you buy a ticket for a train that might not turn up?
That's what Southern Rail passengers have been doing all summer long.
This is the seventh week of this commuter hell
that we are all facing.
I just can't do this any more.
It is too stressful and upsetting.
We hear from both sides.
I think it has been terrible in terms of reputation.
I think it has been terrible for Southern and the the RMT.
We can't stand by and watch these people run this
franchise into the ground, which is what we're doing.
Also, in Surrey villagers try to save their local pub.
Such a shame.
And my attempts to win the Bognor Birdman.
Welcome to Inside Out.
First up, Southern Rail.
Two words that will send a shudder through train user's across
Because lives continue to be turned upside down
by a failing rail service.
All this as a parent company has just released massive
Passengers are angry and they want answers.
Here it comes.
The 19.08 from Clapham Junction down to Portsmouth and Bognor Regis.
So, it didn't stop.
The trains are really going late.
I think it is something to do with the managers.
I am just one little story of hundreds of thousands of people
who are being affected by this commuter hell that we are all being
Just fix it!
Southern Rail has a seven year contract to
run trains from London from London to and from Sussex, Hampshire, Kent,
Milton Keynes, Surry and right along the south coast.
It is a deal worth ?8.9 billion of taxpayer's money.
But the service is in disarray.
In the summer, 341 trains were cut from
Creating chaos across the south.
This service will not depart you do not step back from
the train and you will cause delays for yourself and everybody else on
The company has now reinstated the third of those
services, but it's still got the worst record in the country for
significant lateness and has cancelled more trains than all other
rail operators put together.
No surprise it's users have nicknamed
Southern Rail, Southern Fail.
When I say Southern, you say fail.
Southern rail is a franchise.
Part of part of Govia Thameslink Railway or GDR which in
turn is owned by the multi-billion pound Go-Ahead Group.
Now, they've just announced yearly profits of
Which must be pretty galling for a commuter on Southern
who has just paid ?5,000 for a season ticket to go nowhere.
I am stood at Brighton station once again like I do every night.
I've just got to the train station to get my
regular train to Southampton and it's cancelled.
What does this mean?
I am a new father.
My little baby boy is seven months old.
I won't get to see him once again before he goes to bed.
The commute to London got so bad for Emma, a lawyer from
Littlehampton, she made the decision to give up her job.
At that period over the summer, they destroyed my life.
Emma's route should have taken an hour and a half each way.
But when it started taking her to four
and a half hours each way, she had had enough.
My son, who was waiting at home for me every time I was in
London, I couldn't get home on time to see him.
So, he was put to bed by his nan.
Usually, at his nan's house.
So, I didn't get to see him at all in the evening.
And then of course I didn't get to see him at
all in the morning.
So, he would go hours without seeing his mum.
My mum couldn't put me to bed on time
because of the trains.
What was that like?
Well, it was very upsetting and lonely.
This is the 17.40 from Clapham Junction.
It should be going to Southampton to Bognor Regis.
And the Southampton section of the train has disappeared.
So, if you're going to Southampton this evening,
you won't be going on this.
Southern Rail blames the cancellations on
staff shortages due to sickness.
The RMT Union says that is not the case.
And that the company employs fewer staff than it really needs.
Relying on them to work overtime.
We've had, since the franchise was taken over by Go-Ahead, arguments
with the company about them not having enough staff to run the train
It is a franchise from hell as far as we're concerned.
People's lives have been ruined.
People have lost jobs.
Their family lives have been disrupted.
Because you can't run a rail service.
At the heart of this problem is our
disagreement with the RMT.
We are trying to make some modernisation
changes to the way we operate the service.
OK, I'm going to stop you there.
That's not the heart of the problem, is it?
The heart of the problem, surely, is that you're
trying to run your rail service with only 80% of the staff.
No, that is not the case, no.
That's what your staff have told us.
We've got sufficient number of staff to run
We made some assumptions about sickness and rest
days and some other assumptions as to why staff
may not be available.
And certainly with sickness, there is a lot higher level of sickness
than we had planned.
That is true.
If you look at rest days and overtime working,
overtime working is not compulsory and we don't expect
people to work that.
When you add that all into the mix, it has meant
that there have been more trains cancelled and we would have liked.
I'm at Horsham this morning.
They have just announced that the 7.25 is
an eight car service.
It is normally 12 cars, so that means that the
train is a lot shorter.
I can see there is going to be quite a lot of
people waiting to get on a very small train.
The RMT says the Department for Transport is leaning
on Southern Rail to reduce running costs.
The Government want to cut the subsidies, but the privatiers
want to make their money.
And the meat in the sandwich are the passengers and the staff.
And we're not going to have that.
We're trying to defend not only the staff, that the passenger
services as well.
Although people might not think that at this moment
The franchise's cost-cutting plan is more driver-operated trains.
Southern rail has been running driver-only operated
trains for years.
Chances are, you've been on one.
But the majority still have a guard on board.
With the responsibility of opening and closing the doors.
Now, Southern Rail wants more drivers to do that
using a switch in the cab.
Which means in the future, more services could
run without a guard.
This Southern Rail guard doesn't want to be
identified, but wants to speak out because he believes the move to more
driver-only operated trains just isn't safe.
Of the last ten serious incidents of platform train
interface, where somebody has been trapped in a train and have been
dragged along the platform.
Eight out of ten of those incidents have
involved driver-only operated trains.
Oh, I have to say, I think that is nonsense.
The RMT makes this point, they never provide any
evidence to back up that point.
At the moment on Southern, around about
40% of trains already operate in driver-only mode anyway.
It is a method of working that is
established all over the country and the safety body
that is regulating our industry has also said that this
method of working is a safe method of working.
We have had incidents at West Wickham, where
passengers on driver
only operated trains have been pulled along because they got
trapped in doors.
These are indicators to us that there are some
real safety concerns around how driver only operation is operating
and whether it is safe.
Bearing in mind that we have seen the highest
level of passenger use that we have seen for many, many years.
Southern Rail says there will be no redundancies and most trains will
have on-board supervisors.
Is that a cast-iron guarantee that a train
won't run unless there are two methods of staff on-board?
Not at all.
That is a different point.
What we said is that under normal operations,
there will be a second member of staff on-board.
That is what we have said.
But if a second member of staff isn't available, the
train will still run?
One of the things we want to do is use the technology we have to allow
the driver to close the train doors which means that in the unusual
circumstances that we can't get a second person to a train, that's
train won't have to be cancelled and can still run for our customers.
Some of those customers have turned into campaigners.
The Association of British Commuters is now working to
a judicial review into the Department for Transport's dealings
with Southern Rail.
I would like to thank everybody for being here
outside the Department for Transport today.
Remember commuter Alex from Horsham?
With his season ticket costing ?3,700?
It is a lot of money.
And I can't go down the road and do it with the other train company.
This is a monopoly.
Worse, it is a monopoly that is run by a
unelected official within the Government department.
Worse, it is a monopoly run by an unelected official who blames
a private company that can't lose any money
because of the manager contract.
Their's no accountability anywhere in this situation.
We did ask the Department for Transport for
an interview, but they sent us a statement.
We'll let commuters on
Southern tell you what rail minister Paul Maynard had to say.
Passengers want a railway that works for them and delivers the timely,
modern and convenient service they expect.
They should not have to
The unions try to prevent the delivery of the modern
railway. the delivery of the modern
With additional capacity and improved performance.
And improved performance would have
saved these guys a 60-mile walk back home to Worthing.
We are Victoria Station.
It is 2pm.
We are about to walk from London to Worthing.
Because all the trains are shocking.
There is no end in sight to a dispute which on the face of it
But which is having a profound effect on thousands of
Passengers need answers and take this action beyond
a he said, she said, tit-for-tat industrial disaster.
Coming up, soar like an eagle or sink like a stone.
It's the, Bognor Birdman.
And of course, I'd love to hear your experiences of
You can reach me on e-mail.
Next, here in the south of England, pubs are closing at an
Being developed into houses, being changed into supermarkets or
just left to stand empty.
But as Nick Wallis has been finding out,
one community in Surrey has been fighting back.
Blackheath, on the outskirts of Guildford.
Nestled in the Surrey Hills and surrounded by heath.
An area of outstanding natural beauty and a site of special
In 1864, Queen Victoria reviewed her volunteer
And they've been playing cricket on the greens and 1878.
In 1944, tens of thousands of soldiers camped
on the Heath ready for D-Day.
It ticks plenty of boxes as an archetypal English village.
Except for this one.
Look at the mess.
Look at it!
In September 2010, the pub up here finally called last orders.
And they really were last orders.
It's very sad to see it.
It's been like this for about four...
Hilda's 84 and Billy's 91.
They were both born in Blackheath.
And have fond memories of the pub.
It did have a nice garden where you could sit out.
It's all gone now.
Hilda's grandfather ran the villagers in the 1860s.
And her father was born here.
It's hardly surprising she doesn't like seeing it like this.
Such a shame.
Since Billy was born in 1925, Blackheath has
We had two shops, three churches and two pubs.
We did have.
Now all we have got is two churches.
It is sad, isn't it?
It is going backwards rather than forwards.
And social scientist Christina who lives in the village
has a theory.
You have only got to take one look at the pub sign.
Three blokes, three old blokes, drinking
pints out of pewter pots smoking clay pipes.
That sign encapsulates everything that I think is the old
model of a pub.
Where are the women there?
I suppose they were washing clothes out the back.
It's time we had something for the people of now
and the future.
Not old men of the past.
Spaces for the dogs in the new pubs.
The Pub's on the market for ?525,000 plus VAT.
The village has a plan which would enable them to buy
it and there is not a clay pipe in sight.
The proposal is to convert the old pub into a much smaller pub
here and then have two cottages either side,
which we would sell.
To pay for the purchase of the pub and to
Without the pub, the cricket pavilion is the hub.
They can serve beer, but it is only open
one evening a week and only in summer.
Yes, one night a week is not enough.
The pub means everything to me because it was such a hub of the
I only live like 100-metres away, so it would be perfect.
I go to other pubs which are further out
and much less convenient at the moment to meet up
with friends and it would be ideal to have it here
and have it for everyone.
It would be absolutely great.
We should open the pub.
Blackheath's cricket team have been squaring up to opponents
on the green here since the 1800s.
But team Save Our Pub might find winning back the villagers a bit
A lot of the problem is that it is owned ultimately
by a very big corporation and inevitably, the
top brass don't know the ins and outs of their each individual pub.
That big corporation is the Wellington pub company.
Owned by two of the richest men in the country.
The Reuben brothers.
Hoping they may be sympathetic to a village losing
it's pub, the Lord of the Manor try to contact them.
I did write to them personally myself.
Reply came from halfway up the chain.
They couldn't commit themselves, wouldn't commit themselves.
I don't believe the Reuben brothers got anywhere near
The villagers have had The Villagers listed
as an asset of community value.
That makes change of use harder, which they hope will
put other people.
They pledged money and put an offer in with the estate
agents, but they are not alone.
They have definitely got two other offers
that I know of.
One below us and one higher.
And I know at least two other people who want to put offers
in as well.
According to Paul, the Wellington pub company won't accept
their offer unless the money is already in place.
They want ?5,000 on the nail.
Then they want to exchange within 14 days and then
complete 14 days thereafter.
Well, it would take us probably three to
four months to find that money.
It is the sort of heart and soul of the
It makes the difference between community
and a dormitory.
It is important.
A snoop around the overgrown garden reveals an old entrance well worth
So, if we get the pub back, this will take pride of place.
Sweat and hard work we put into bringing our old pub back again.
This will epitomise it for me.
Right across the south, communities have
been fighting back to save their local.
Over on Cranborne Chase in
Dorset, villages in Gussage All Saints have just
rescued The Drovers.
The pub was suddenly closed and boarded
And we had thought it was going to be sold as a public
house, but then after that there was a planning application going in to
change the use to residential.
At that time, we called a village meeting and we had standing room
Everybody felt really strong about it.
And we decided that we would do everything in our power to
So, the village put the business plan together and raise
?160,000 by selling shares.
The smallest share holder holds ?300 and
the biggest one is ?10,000.
As an individual.
And all amounts of money in between.
We have got over 160 shareholders now.
The village committee finally bought the pub in
March this year.
Sally and I have both been living this dream for
about 16, 17 months now.
It will be nice one morning to wake up and not
have the first thought in your mind being what have I got to do?
But relief as well.
That we can get our village life back together.
So, whilst The Drovers are happily pulling
pints again, here in Blackheath, they still don't know if they're pub
will ever reopen.
To me, it is like I've lost a very good friend.
The pub is not necessarily just a
drinking den for goodness sake.
Is a where people can meet and converse
and put the world to rights.
I think it's taken so long to get this far,
I'm about 30% hopeful that something will happen.
I am more hopeful.
Not 100%, but more than 30%.
I think just a small village pub would be
I suggested a nursing home too.
Then we wouldn't have far to go.
I want a pint with my mates in the local.
That is all I'm asking.
Nothing greater than that.
Well, it's going to happen.
Nick Wallis there.
Now, don't forget we are on Twitter.
Finally, here in the south we have a tremendously rich
history when it comes to aviation.
Of course, it is 80 years before Spitfire took to the skies.
It was designed and built by some of the
The Bognor Birdman contest has been around since the 70s.
Every year, dozens of wannabe Wright
brothers take the plunge from the top of Bognor or Worthing Pier.
The furthest flyer wins a cash prize.
This year, the production team has decided it's a good idea for me to
A multiplied by B squared.
Knowing nothing about aircraft design, I've snuck
into an aerodynamics
lecture at the University of Southampton.
B prime over a prime.
How nice of Doctor Alex Forrester to help me out.
That is what it is equal to.
Classic Newton's law is that every force has an equal
and opposite reaction.
So, you need to push down on the air as much as it
is pushing up on you.
The most important part of my design will be
Get this wrong and it will be a very short flight.
The hypotenuse is the weight.
You need to make sure that the ribs are strong enough
and you have got is a sufficient of them the pressure on all of this
area going to cause that bit to snap.
I think you'll do well.
I have faith.
Well, that makes one of us at least.
There are three classes you can enter for the bird man.
Kingfisher is for those who just want to jump.
Hang gliders enter the Condor class.
And there's me in the da Vinci class.
For inventors only.
This year, there are three of us.
Enough talking, more thinking,
This baby is going to win me ?1,000.
But before I start building it, I need to check out my
I have arrived on bin day, it seems.
Sam Penny from the Acton is a tad more experienced than me.
He's an aircraft engineer.
His design is pedal powered.
And needs an enormous wingspan and propeller.
Look at this!
Yeah, it is coming on a bit.
It is four metres across.
Your propeller is the length of one of my wings.
Yes, it is.
Does it work?
Can we see?
22 metre wingspan.
It should only weigh 40 kilos.
And it should fly at 70 mph.
So, how fast we have to pedal?
Pedal as fast as you think you will.
Bodily about that.
110 rpm, I reckon.
While samples like relying on pedal power,
I'm going for a more straightforward glider design.
Which is starting to take shape here in the bowels of BBC
Over in Bognor, the other rivals in my class are also hard at
That is your next bar.
That gets glued there.
Simon Smith is a special effects designer.
His mate Kelvin Hickmore will be piloting
I trust you.
We have spent a whole lives creating and
building weird and wonderful objects.
This is going to be just another one of those objects.
This one, hopefully, is going to do a
little bit better.
Lightweight, carbon fibre.
And to be honest, I'm just going to make it up.
So you're just going to...
Literally just going to run and go for it.
Nosedive the waves?
Back at Southampton Uni, Doctor Forrester is testing a 20th
scale model of my design in a
state-of-the-art wind tunnel.
This is great.
Lovely level flight.
You start to dive a bit and the tail is giving some negative lift.
This is great.
This is a flyer.
All great news, but will my full-size
matchup to the model?
It's all getting a bit real now.
It's been surreal up to this moment,
but reality is dawning that soon I'm going to be under that throwing
myself of that.
What am I doing?
Early morning on the day of the contest.
And the air reeks of anticipation in Bognor.
But things aren't going so well for me back at base.
My eight-metre wings won't fit in the van.
We are doing the international Bognor Birdman event.
In desperation, I take to begging live on the radio.
So, if anybody is listening and can take pity with
something like a Luton van.
And just like that, one hour later...
Peter and Lenny from a local removals firm
arrived to save my bacon.
Thank you so much!
That is all right.
With a little bit of jiggling, my baby is
finally in and we are good to go.
A couple of hours later, we arrive at Bognor.
The Condor class is already underway.
Mr Birdman takes to the air.
Whilst they wowed the crowd, my motley road crew get me into
We are ready to go.
You are flying, aren't you?
You said that it will only take 80 kilos.
Remember, there are only three of us on my class.
Me and my bird, Sam with his propeller pedals and up
first I Kelvin and Simon.
My knees knocking and away we go but...
I do have nappies.
But the south east summer is in full swing.
If the wind reaches 20 knots, they'll call the whole thing off.
I have got to aim down.
Because I don't want to get lifted back up.
That would be bad.
You can come to the edge, if you like.
I'm all right here.
Without further ado, Kelvin is ready for the off.
But the wind is not dying down.
Well done, Kevin!
The wind is so strong.
It is so hard to get off the pier.
But he did well!
He sort of got off the pier, didn't he?
He has landed.
He has gone the furthest yet.
Next up, is an aircraft engineer, Sam Penny.
Thank you very much.
His pedal powered plane has a wingspan of more
than 20 metres.
And this craft is enormous.
Sam just flew a whopping 35.5 metres.
With everything to play for, it's my turn on the platform.
Despite near gale force winds, I'm sticking to my plan.
Dive, dive, dive.
Maybe not that much.
And the craft's spun and went upside down.
Well done, John.
He's safe, he's sound.
I have seen better.
I will be honest, that could have been better.
Distance 0.5 metres.
I could have actually fallen further.
To be honest, I didn't even fly the distance of me.
So, Sam takes the ?1,000.
Kelvin is second and I definitely come last.
Same time next year, boys?
How was Daddy's plane?
What has happened to daddy's plain?
I'm still picking seaweed out of my teeth.
That is it for now.
I will see you next week.
Just to let you know, thanks to my prize money
for coming last and a kind donation
from the removals company, we raised
?500 for children in need.
Not bad for falling off a pier.
Not bad for falling off a pier.