Rail franchises operators & contracts

03.07.18

TOCs take out newspaper ad apologising to customers, pledge new timetable in two weeks

Major train firms have taken out a half-page advert in a major newspaper to apologise to customers for “ongoing problems” since the chaotic introduction of new timetables on 20 May.

South-eastern TOCs GTR and Great Northern, in partnership with Network Rail, purchased the ad in free newspaper Metro, offering a “sincere apology” for the bedding in of the new timetables that has led to delays, cancellations, and frustrated passengers over the last two months.

The advert acknowledged that services were “failed to launch as planned,” resulting in significant delays, cancellations and disruption.

It went on: “We apologise sincerely and unreservedly for the impact this has had on your daily lives.”

The firms added that a new timetable, which they aim to be “more dependable” and give more focus to peak trains to give “more certainty to plan your journeys to and from work,” is to come in to effect in two weeks on 15 July.

Last month, the chief executive of struggling operator GTR Charles Horton resigned, citing that passengers have been “hugely frustrated at the significant disruption” caused by the introduction of new timetables.

Yesterday, reports surfaced of GTR potentially losing its franchise if services don’t improve after the new timetable implementations, although the information was from an undisclosed government source.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said that GTR have “taken the blame game to a whole new level in this barrage of propaganda,” and labelled it “unbelievable” that they can get away with “patronising nonsense.”

The apology comes after recent figures released by Network Rail revealed that new train timetables have had a negative effect of punctuality of trains across the country.

In the South East, 36% of Thameslink lines missed their targets for punctuality, double compared to the previous year.

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Image credit: olaser, iStock

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