Latest Rail News

30.06.17

Grayling given two weeks to make decision on maligned Southern franchise

Chris Grayling has been given two weeks to come to a decision over the Southern rail crisis, the High Court yesterday ruled.

In court yesterday, campaigners from the Association of British Commuters (ABC) argued that a decision over GTR’s handling of the franchise had been “unreasonably” delayed and should be completed as soon as possible.  

James Hodivala, representing the ABC also criticised the DfT for the 14-month delay of the ruling, and stated there had been a “lack of transparency” from Grayling over when a review would be completed by the government.

In response, lawyers for the transport secretary said that a decision would be made “imminently” on the franchise, and that Grayling was “fully aware” of the misery that Southern passengers had gone through after over a year’s worth of industrial action and disruption.

They added that the decision would be followed by another one about whether any enforcement action, including the franchise being stripped from GTR, would be taken.

Justice Ouseley said he wouldn’t grant a judicial review on the understanding that a decision would be made within two weeks. While he ruled that the ABC should pay two-thirds of DfT’s legal costs (around £25,900), ABC co-founder Emily Yates said that the organisation regarded the decision as a victory.

“We have already had a precedent set when the judge agreed you should not wait until kingdom come for a decision to be made,” she said outside court. “We are disappointed he did not accept our case about disability access, but we regard today as a victory – and our campaign will continue.”

A DfT spokesman commented: “We are pleased the High Court has thrown out the application for a judicial review by the ABC.”

They added that the Gibb report, which was published last week, made it very clear that the responsibility for disruption on Southern was primarily caused by industrial action led by RMT and Aslef, and exceptional levels of staff sick leave.

“We have been considering whether the extensive disruption to the line last year was entirely beyond GTR’s control and our decision was due to be communicated to the company imminently,” the statement concluded. “We are more than happy to inform GTR of the verdict within the 14 days required by the judge.”

The ruling also comes a day after union Aslef launched their overtime ban on Southern’s services, causing even more disruption for commuters.

Top Image: David Mirzoeff PA Wire

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Comments

Andrew Gwilt   30/06/2017 at 22:36

If Govia/Go Ahead Group were to lose the Southern rail franchise and Gatwick Express which is also part of Southern and is part of the TSGN (Thameslink Southern & Great Northern) franchise run by GTR (Govia Thameslink Railway). Then Trenitalia, Abellio, First Group, MTR and DB Arriva could step in and to take over as new train operator for the Southern rail franchise and to introduce more services with more trains being added to services that is already struggling. And to end the DOO (Door Operating Only) manifasco once the new operator takes over. Which means Govia/Go Ahead will have to manage the TGN (Thameslink Great Northern) franchise on their own without Southern being part of the GTR network.

Jak Jaye   30/06/2017 at 23:39

Southern's woes down to the RMT/Aslef dispute? what about the daily shambles of points and signaling failures courtesy of ClockWork Fail? they cause far more disruption then anything else

Phillip Cooper   01/07/2017 at 22:28

If GTR employed more drivers, the overtime ban would have less impact.

James Palma   02/07/2017 at 08:46

Changing the TOC will not solve the problem. Bowing to the righteous demands of the glorious comrades of the red revolution will. And giving those same comrades a pay rise will also oil the stationary axle boxes of relations with the new TOC. Only problem is it is the passengers who have suffered all this time that will have to pay higher fares to pay for a member of staff to sit on the train and do nothing between stations, except read the paper, and get even more money for doing so, which kind of goes against equality in pay that our comrades in the Labour Party want.

Jimbo   02/07/2017 at 09:25

@Andrew Gwilt - If GTR is stripped of the Southern Franchise, DOR (Directly Operated Railways), the DfT inhouse TOC, would step in to run it until a new franchise goes out to tender and a new operator appointed. @Jak Jaye - The amount of disruption associated with industrial action verses the amount due to Network Rail failures is recorded in detail, but the latter is not the responsibility of GTR. Network Rail may get a slap on the wrists for the level of failure, but those failures will be outside the remit of this court case. @Phillip Cooper - There was some threatened industrial action by ASLEF a few years ago when one of the TOC's wanted to recruit more drivers to reduce the amount of overtime worked. Reducing the amount of overtime would reduce the drivers pay and remove one of ASLEF's bargaining tools !!

Cynical   02/07/2017 at 17:35

Can hardly wait for the latest spin and waffle. Large dose of beligerent Management, big chunk of emboldened Unions, stirred well by Dft muddled ineptitude and complete lack of passenger relief. Reach for liver salts!

Gabriel Oaks   03/07/2017 at 10:48

The requirement to move to DCO (not DOO) is a contractual obligation placed on GTR by the DfT as part of their management contract. It would be surprising if GTR were stripped of their contract for complying with their contractual obligations to the DfT when RSSB /ORR have effectively ruled DCO as viable. As for NRIL's failings (including being unable to regulate trains during the London Bridge rebuilding) that is a separate issue......

King's Lynn   03/07/2017 at 12:39

I'm not the sort of person to suddenly demand that people get paid less for the jobs they do but when some of the problem for this stems from the fact that the TOC has to rely on existing staff working mandatory overtime just to keep the basic service running, someone's got something wrong somewhere...

Jimbo   03/07/2017 at 19:05

@King's Lynn - the use of overtime to cover services, particularly on Sundays, is very long established, predating BR and possibly all the way back to Victorian times. It is so established that if you tried to take it away, you would have to compensate the current employees for lose of income, which is why no-one has changed it.

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