Southern (GTR) - B
Southern (GTR) - B
Southern (GTR) Punctuality and Overcrowding
In January 2015 Southern hit controversy when it was revealed that the 7.29am Brighton to London Victoria train failed to get in on time on any occasion out of all 240 attempts in 2014. Later in May 2015 it was revealed that Southern had fined passengers for standing in first class on an overcrowded train.
Only 20% of Southern trains arrived on time in the year from April 2015 to March 2016, and there was an ongoing industrial dispute over driver-only operated trains.
In late 2016, the Transport Select Committee told ministers to "get a grip" on railway franchises, with their report asking if the train operator was in breach of their contractual obligations due to the large number of cancelled trains, and went on to say, "in normal circumstances, this would be grounds for termination of the contract".
Southern (GTR) 2016 Amended Timetable
In 2016, the company introduced an amended timetable that would be a temporary measure until staffing returned to normal" to be announced on 5 July. The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) trade union said that 350 services would be cancelled every day (the company ran 2,242 weekday services in the previous timetable).
The company said it had insufficient personnel, and too many were taking sick leave, the union denied that high levels of sickness were the cause of cancellations, while agreeing that there were an insufficient number of guards and drivers.
The government Department for Transport said that the situation was unacceptable. While the company was obliged to notify the department in advance, this did not amount to giving the company permission for the changes. The RMT union general secretary Mick Cash said the government had permitted GTR to introduce the emergency timetable, but that it was "nothing to do with staff sickness and everything to do with gross mismanagement of this franchise and the failure to employ enough guards and drivers. ... a cynical and cowardly ploy".
The London Evening Standard mentioned Southern in an article in June 2016 "Southern rail suggests commuter goes on 100 mile detour to Clapham instead of her normal six minute journey".
In June 2016, amongst criticism of the performance of its services, Go-Ahead warned of lower than anticipated profits on its Govia Thameslink Railway franchises, leading to an 18% drop in the Go-Ahead share price.
From 31 October 2016, Southern restored the full weekday timetable.
Southern (GTR) Control of Doors and Strikes
In 2016, Southern altered its method of door operation, with control of the doors moving from the conductor to the driver. Southern said this would allow the conductor to concentrate on the passengers, but the RMT and Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) unions said that it was an attempt to make conductors unnecessary and would be unsafe.
The rail safety regulator, the Rail Standards and Safety Board has said that "We have 30 years of data which we have analysed. We have found that the driver performing the task does not increase the risk to passengers at all." In 2016, the RMT and ASLEF unions went on strike over the changes, causing severe disruption to Southern services. The strikes continued into 2017.
The BBC suggested that the RMT union are particularly worried about the new method of operation because if drivers (rather than conductors) control the doors then trains could run without conductors and thus any strike by conductors would not have the power to cancel trains.
In December 2016, it was announced that the government would pay £50 million to Southern to cover the costs of the disruption caused by the strikes, due to a deal between the government and Southern. This deal means that the government pays £38 million for lost revenue and £15 million in compensation to passengers. This deal also means that Govia Thameslink Railway will save around £1.1 million in pay for striking workers.
Commentators argue that the government gave a management contract rather than a normal franchise to GTR in order to push through DOO. The management contract meant that GTR did not have the incentive to resolve strikes as a normal franchisee would have, as the government lost money from strikes rather than GTR.
On 2 February 2017, the TUC announced that talks between Southern and ASLEF had reached an agreement meaning that the dispute with ASLEF had been resolved. However, the RMT union said it was 'betrayed' by Southern and that strikes by the RMT would continue.
Commencing 29 June 2017, ASLEF implemented an overtime ban, aiming to highlight a claimed failure by Southern to recruit adequate staff.
Southern (Govia Thameslink Railway) Overview
Southern (GTR) Franchise(s):
26 August 2001 – 24 May 2003
25 May 2003 – 19 September 2009
22 June 2008 – 19 September 2009
South Central (incl Gatwick Express)
20 September 2009 – 25 July 2015
Part of Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern
26 July 2015 – 1 April 2028
Southern (GTR) Main Region(s): Greater London, South East England
Southern (GTR) Other Region(s): East of England
Southern (GTR) Fleet Size:
17 Class 171 Turbostar sets
214 Class 377 Electrostar sets
4 Class 387 Electrostar sets
Southern (GTR) Stations Called At: 213
Southern (GTR) Stations Operated: 156
Southern (GTR) Parent Company: Govia Thameslink Railway
Southern (GTR) Reporting Mark: SN
Southern (GTR) Technical Track Gauge: 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in) standard gauge
Southern (GTR) Electrification: 750 V DC third rail
25 kV 50 Hz AC OHLE
Southern (GTR) Length: 666.3 km (414.0 mi)