Rail service improvements and disruptions

02.07.18

GTR could lose its franchise if services don’t improve after new timetable

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) is at risk of losing its franchise if it fails to improve the slumping performance across its services since late May’s timetable shake-up, which led to a string of cancellations and delays.

The BBC received this information from a government source, who claimed that if the cancellations continue after a refreshed timetable is implemented on 15 July it will be “the final straw” for GTR.

A whopping 20,000 trains were either cancelled or suffered severe delays in the last six weeks, with passengers facing intense disruption across Thameslink.

For this to happen, Whitehall officials would need to show that GTR breached its contract. An inquiry into the issue has already been announced by Chris Grayling, but it is not known whether it will conclude before Parliament goes into recess.

But Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT, argued that “this is no time for empty threats from unnamed government sources” and called on the operator to be “barred for good.”

A DfT spokesman released a statement regarding the disruptions: “GTR passengers are encountering unacceptable service levels and the transport secretary and rail minister have been clear it is their priority that this is put right as soon as possible and passengers are compensated for the disruption.

“We will investigate whether GTR have breached their contracts and we won’t hesitate to take tough action against them if they are found negligent.”

Charles Horton, chief executive of GTR, resigned once the extent of the problem became apparent, while the transport secretary has faced calls to stand down.

Grayling and the rail minister, Jo Johnson, have both had meetings with GTR executives and MPs to discuss concerns. While reliability across Northern services has improved slightly since a revised timetable was put in place, the same cannot be said for the London operator.

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Image credit: CristinaNixau

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