Commuters using trains in and out of Eastbourne could be looking at more cancellations in the coming weeks and months.
It appears that the Government is extending the number of trains that can be cancelled on the Govia Thameslink Rail (GTR) Network by almost 9,000, meaning up to 32,000 services could be cancelled a year. However, this looks to be on a temporary basis owing to works at London Bridge.
The Remedial Plan is the latest issue to drive a wedge between the company and the RMT Union, whose members have been taking industrial action over the proposed introduction of Driver-Only Trains.
The RMT claims that the purpose of the plan was to amend the original franchise agreement “to address GRT’s contractual breach of the Schedule 7.1 benchmark for cancellations…and admits that the overall number of cancellations has increased and GTR have exceeded its threshold for Train Operating Company cancellations.”
Eastbourne Buzz has sought clarification from GTR on the issue. A spokesman told us:
“The RMT is deliberately twisting and exaggerating the facts. We know it’s been tough for our passengers and this plan highlights the initiatives we’re taking to give them a better, more reliable service so that fewer services – not more – have to be cancelled than are today.
“The benchmarks in our franchise are designed to be challenging but attainable. What has now been established is that the assumptions around the capability of the network did not recognise the effects of London Bridge and the Thameslink Programme. The temporary changes to the benchmarks become more challenging again as the plan nears completion.”
The spokesman continued:
“The remedial plan contains our commitment to make a considerable investment over and above our franchise agreement in the areas of driver recruitment and training, rolling stock reliability and performance improvement.
“The plan accepts an independent study that “clearly shows” there has been a structural change in the operating characteristics of the rail network which has affected the level of delay across our network including the level of delays we cause. This means that we have not been able to deliver the services required by the contract so adjustments have been made using the contractual mechanisms in the franchise agreement.”
However, Polegate’s MP is not happy with the situation. Earlier this week, Maria Caulfield raised the issue of trains on the Southern network in Parliament, asking for the Rail Minister to look into the situation as a matter of urgency. On hearing about the new temporary contract, Ms Caulfield said, “These changes were made without any discussions with local MPs and I am appalled if this has taken place. Last year the timetable was changed and services reduced so that Govia could attempt to run services on time and if these changes go ahead it is a significant reduction in service for hard pressed passengers.
We will certainly be bringing this up with the rail minister when we meet.”
It seems the situation on the trains won’t be going away any time soon. Have you been affected by delays or cancellations and have an opinion on the situation? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know.