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Revealed: Southern cancelled almost 60,000 services last year

Almost 60,000 Southern rail services were cancelled last year, figures recorded by Network Rail (NR) today have revealed – averaging 161 trains per day across the network.

Southern was directly responsible for around 38,379 of these cancellations, whilst another 20,273 were down to NR and other freight company errors.

A total of 58,983 services were either fully or partly cancelled in 2016, which Southern partially put down to staffing issues including train crew rosters, train drivers, senior conductors and station staff.

The high number of service cancellations can be explained due to the 11-month long dispute that Southern has been engaged in with unions RMT and Aslef over driver-only operated trains, which has seen commuters having to deal with almost a year of service disruption because of constant strike action.

When contacted for comment, Southern apologised for the cancellations, with a spokesperson saying: “This level of service is not acceptable and we apologise sincerely. We run almost 15,000 trains a week on the busy Southern network and the well-documented industrial action has cancelled an unprecedented number of trains making passengers’ lives a misery and affecting the regional economy.

“We’re doing our best to find a way forward with the unions and we are also working closely with NR on its £300m funding package to improve track, signalling and overall performance.”

An NR spokesperson also spoke of the infrastructure owner’s regret for the poor figures, saying: “Improving performance on the railway in the south east is something that can only be achieved by Southern and NR working together.

“While it is important that we know which organisation holds responsibility for delays, so that we can analyse the causes and take action to tackle them, we also know that passengers just want their trains to be on time.”

They added that passengers “deserve better” and promised NR is “working hard to improve performance on what is the most congested stretch of railway in the country”.

“We are about to invest £300m on improving crucial parts of the railway in the region, on top of work we have already undertaken to tackle weather resilience and improving response times when things do go wrong,” argued the spokesperson.

The news comes as RMT announced its members on Merseyrail, Northern and Southern services would go on strike on 13 March in protest at the changes to guards’ roles on trains.

It also comes in the same week it was revealed that Govia Thameslink Railway, the parent company of Southern, was to blame for over a third of Go-Ahead’s major 35% drop in rail profit.

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