Latest Rail News

12.07.16

Khan calls for GTR to lose Southern franchise

The newly elected London mayor Sadiq Khan has joined calls for control of the Southern franchise to be transferred from Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) to the government after mass train cancellations.

Rail passengers staged a protest at Victoria station yesterday as GTR, which has seen a steep decline in performance and punctuality, announced that it is temporarily cancelling 341 trains a day to try to gain control of its services.

GTR has suffered from delays caused by problems including upgrades at London Bridge and strikes, led by RMT, over the introduction of driver-operated only (DOO) services.

Khan said: “This utter mess is now an embarrassment to our city; it is an insult to hard-working Londoners who pay their fares and it must be fixed. That is why I am calling on the government to strip Southern of its franchise and take over the temporary responsibility of running these services.

“Ministers need to put in place a new and faster timetable for handing over inner suburban rail services to Transport for London, so that we can provide passengers with the improved services, stations and fares they deserve.

“My team is ready and willing to work with the government on transferring responsibility for those services to Transport for London in a far speedier fashion.”

RMT has also called for GTR to lose control of the franchise, and Campaign for Better Transport has called for government intervention to tackle the problems.

However, in an appearance before the Transport Select Committee, rail minister Claire Perry MP said that although the current situation was “completely unacceptable”, she did not believe changing the operator would lead to improvements in services because the same management would stay in place.

“Changing the nameplate on the door would not remove the industrial disputes, would not change the infrastructure programme, and so, in my judgement, it does not deliver what customers want,” she said.

“There is no reason for the unions to carry on with the dispute and I would urge them and GTR to solve their issues for the benefit of the customers.”

RMT has offered to suspend the strikes for three months if GTR delays introducing the changes for the same period, but Perry agreed with the operator and said there was “no need” to wait three months.

She also sought to reassure rail staff yesterday that the changes are not “the thin end of the wedge” and that safety critical roles will be maintained and companies will invest in safety.

Perry also said that future franchises from the DfT could include a requirement to keep on-board staff with a responsibility for safety.

(Image c. Jonathan Brady from PA Wire/ Press Association Images)

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Comments

Huguenot   12/07/2016 at 14:20

So the Rail Minister said that she "did not believe changing the operator would lead to improvements in services because the same management would stay in place". Well, another operator could change the management, but they would be stuck with the same drivers and guards on the same working conditions because of the TUPE regulations. Therefore, changing the operator would have limited benefit in practice, although it would certainly show up GTR for what it is. For goodness' sake, do something, somebody ...

Andrew Gwilt   14/07/2016 at 17:15

Well it could be the "Death" of Southern Railway if they do not sort things out then it's "RIP Southern Railway". And TSGN will be rebranded as TGN without Southern Railway and possibly Gatwick Express.

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