Statistics, released today, by the Office for Road and Rail show that Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) complaints increasing by 347.1% compared to a year ago. The Lib Dems have blasted operators and said ‘this would damn a developing country’.
GTR accounted for 19% of all complaints made nationally in Q3. Other London and South East TOCs with big increases include South West Trains with a 71.5% increase compared to Q3 last year, Southeastern by 33.3% and Greater Anglia by 18.3%.
The majority of complaints are about punctuality/reliability of services. Punctuality/reliability complaints vary by train operator, with London Midland receiving the highest proportion of these complaints, making up 52.3% of all complaints about punctuality.
Complaints about fares are also increasing. ‘Ticket buying facilities – other’ which consists of complaints about the ticket buying process (mostly online ticket sales) is the second most complained about area with 8.1% of complaints, a 4.7 percentage point increase on last year
Trains within the London and South East sector recorded the lowest Q3 level of punctuality since 2003.
Commenting on the news Liberal Democrat Transport spokesperson Jenny Randerson:
“The service delivered by some operators is something that would damn a developing country.
“In any other job, in any other industry, the bosses who have presided over months and months of misery would be held to account yet these bosses aren’t.
“Anyone who uses services like Thameslink is familiar with the constant overcrowding and delays which plague the service.
“The government should take responsibility and should have stepped in many months ago to stop this chaos.”
Claims by Govia and Network Rail bosses that they are working very hard to improve services, have been slammed by Liberal Democrats as a product of “living in la la land”.
The claims were made at a special council “Question time on rail services” on Thursday 2 February, where passenger groups including the community campaign group “Train Suffererjettes”, the Association of Public Transport Users and a rail user with disabilities, set out the daily challenges faced by passengers.
Daisy Cooper, the St Albans Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate who is campaigning to become the next MP for St Albans said: “It is extraordinary that rail bosses tried to persuade councillors and the public that services are improving when their own reports and local people’s real-life experiences show the complete opposite.
“Their own reports say that St Albans station has potential safety risks from over-crowding during peak hours; that only 48% of trains arrive on time; that delays from incidents are getting longer; and that the poor information on disrupted St Albans services has been due to Govia’s operations centre being all-consumed by the ongoing Southern Rail crisis. On every indicator that matters to passengers – cost, reliability, and comfort – train bosses are failing, and to suggest otherwise is the stuff of la la land.”
Cllr Robert Donald who quizzed the rail bosses on remediation plans said: “We are dealing with unparalleled levels of anger and frustration from long suffering commuters yet the rail management teams seem unable to learn from previous incidents and give passengers any confidence at all in their ability to improve services. They don’t even seem to have the outline bones of a plan to meet their contractual obligations by any particular date let alone a detailed improvement programme.”
Cllr Ellie Hudspith said: “Following our questioning, train bosses have now admitted that passengers will likely not see any improvement in rail services until the works at London Bridge are completed in January 2018, yet passenger fares continue to rise – it’s a scandal.” (more…)
From the District Council
Train users have a chance to quiz railway executives about services between London and the St Albans District.
Representatives of Govia, which operates the Thameslink line, are to attend a public meeting later this month.
They will be joined by colleagues from Network Rail which owns the track and other infrastructure.
Members of two rail user groups will also be in attendance to give their views on behalf of travellers. These are the Association of Public Transport Users and the Train Suffererjettes.
A wheelchair user who regularly uses the route will be present to talk about his experiences.
The meeting has been arranged by the Planning, Resources and Housing Scrutiny Committee of St Albans City and District Council. It will be held in the Council chamber at the Civic Centre, St Peter’s Street, on Thursday 2 February from 7pm.
Anyone who wants to raise an issue can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday 30 January.
Their questions will be put to the executives by Councillors. If requested, their names and addresses will be kept confidential.
County Councillor Sandy Walkington was delighted to join the brilliantly named ‘Sufferjettes’ in their protest this morning at St Albans City Station. Many of those protesting are female commuters making the particular point that train delays and cancellations play expensive havoc with childcare arrangements. They just want the service they are paying for.
Sandy helped lead the chant which received thumbs-up from the hurrying commuters going past:
‘What do we want? Trains on time!
‘When do we want it? Now!’
Sandy said: “I was on the Environment and Transport Panel at County Hall which grilled Thameslink senior executives last week. It goes without saying that the service needs to be run as advertised. But problems are likely to continue in the near term due to driver shortages, track closures at London Bridge and teething problems with the new Class 700 trains. None of these is the fault of the poor long suffering passengers and they should be properly compensated, not just Delay Repay but a proper and substantial fare cut until the advertised service can be delivered.”
I would like to offer my wholehearted apologies for the severe disruption on Thameslink services this week. I appreciate that this has been immensely frustrating to our customers on the back of the extended disruption last week after a power surge damaged signalling systems in the Luton area.
This week there have been further major incidents affecting Thameslink services. On Wednesday evening following a fatality near Elstree and Borehamwood, with services held for around 80 minutes while emergency services attended, and subsequent services delayed or cancelled.
Yesterday evening one of our trains came to a stand near Kentish Town at 1842. Our provisional findings are that there was a loss of overhead electric power which caused a ‘tripping’ in of the circuit breakers in the train involved. With the train unable to receive power, a rescue train was sent from Cricklewood. However, when that train was attached the same problem affected the rescue train. Our priority was the comfort and safety of our passengers, so the trains were decoupled in order for passengers from the original train to be evacuated on to the rescue train. This took place at around 90 minutes after the original incident began. After that, the stalled train was cleared once engineering assistance arrived. (more…)
I would like to update you on the latest situation with Thameslink, where an overhead power line problem followed by a major signalling fault has been severely disrupting our services and passengers since Tuesday afternoon.
Network Rail, which owns and maintains the signalling, track and power supplies, now expects to complete repair work tonight. To facilitate this, we will be stopping all trains between St Albans and Bedford from 2300 tonight until 0400 tomorrow and running buses between these two stations instead. I have attached a spearate update from Network Rail that gives more detail about what they have been doing.
Owing to the level of disruption caused by this incident there will still be alterations to Thameslink services tomorrow (Friday) as we return the service to normal, even if Network Rail does complete its repairs. This is because our trains are out of position for the normal timetable.
We aim to run a normal service between Bedford and Brighton, and between Sevenoaks and London. However, there will be a reduced stopping service between Luton and London St Pancras, and between Sutton/Wimbledon and London Blackfriars as the service recovers. We are asking passengers to check www.nationalrail.co.uk or 03457 48 49 50 for the latest service information.
To recap, it has been a long and difficult three days for our Thameslink passengers and for our staff who will all be relieved now to learn that Network Rail has repaired this major fault.
The effect on our service has been severe, especially north of London where we have had to cut back the number of trains to just a few an hour, between Bedford and St Pancras, and also reduce the service to and from Sutton and Wimbledon.
We would like to thank everyone involved for their patience. If anyone was delayed by 30 minutes or more then we urge them to claim compensation at www.thameslinkrailway.com/delayrepay.
Govia Thameslink Railway is consulting on a major timetable change for 2018 planned for our Thameslink, Southern, Gatwick Express and Great Northern routes that will boost capacity and link new communities in the south of England to stations across the heart of London and beyond, to Bedford, Peterborough and Cambridge.
The new timetable is needed to facilitate the expansion of the Thameslink network in 2018 and will enable passengers to benefit from the major investment of the Government-sponsored Thameslink Programme. This expansion is in part enabled by the completion of work at London Bridge which will allow many more Thameslink trains to operate through the station, removing a major bottleneck in the rail network. It will facilitate a significant increase in services to London Bridge. For reference, please find the information sheets attached which outline the proposals according to route.
Passengers and stakeholders can download the details, a “station checker” and respond via the websites using this link www.thameslinkrailway.com/2018consultation or http://www.southernrailway.com/your-journey/timetable-consultation
Local councillor Chris White has condemned the plea by Govia to commuters to travel outside the rush hour.
Chris said: ‘People have to work for a living. They can’t just drift in half way through the morning. Well they can – but some would find themselves on the return train home carrying a P45.
‘Govia is clearly too incompetent to run a railway and so should hand the franchise back to the Government.’
For more details see press article here.
Note from Thameslink
Due to the severe weather conditions forecast for today and Monday February 8th, speed restrictions will be in operation on some routes from 21:00 today until 03:00, and from 11:00am on Monday 8 February as a safety precaution.
We plan to run our Monday morning service as advertised, however passengers are advised that disruption is highly likely and to check their journey before travelling.
Passengers are being advised to expect delays and disruption as forecasters are predicting winds in excess of 70mph across the South Coast on Monday.
With the strength of the winds expected, railway infrastructure could be damaged as severe winds can blow debris and trees onto tracks and damage equipment and signals.
For more information on how high winds affect the railway please visit: http://www.networkrail.co.uk/timetables-and-travel/delays-explained/high-winds/.