Working in partnership with London TravelWatch

Week 5: train roulette on Thameslink, more certainty in the north

18 June 2018

Tonight the Transport Select Committee is questioning the rail industry over the last few weeks’ meltdown. We’ll be there – those who can’t make it can watch it on Parliament TV.

Tomorrow we’ll be quizzing the managing directors of Northern and TransPennine Express, David Brown and Leo Goodwin, and Network Rail director of route sponsorship Patrick Cawley, at a public meeting in central Manchester. It’s not too late to sign up to come along – click here to find out more.

Or you can submit questions by tweeting @transportfocus using #timetablecrisis.

While things have stabilised in the north of England, in the south and east passengers who use Thameslink and Great Northern are still playing train roulette.  It’s just not fair to leave passengers guessing whether their train will run tomorrow.

Govia Thameslink (GTR)’s efforts to stabilise the timetable is just not working. There are still far too many late-notice cancellations and delays, on top of pre-announced cancellations.  Online and station information is confusing and inconsistent. Passengers have completely lost confidence in their trains.

One passenger travelling from Meldreth to Cambridge summed up their frustration:

“Two consecutive trains listed as running on the app, but cancelled last minute after I had left work and travelled to the station. No point in going back to work so had to sit on the platform.”

We are again urging GTR to publish an interim timetable that works and passengers can rely on. They cannot be expected to wait until mid-July for certainty.

We have written to rail minister Jo Johnson MP specifically about better compensation for passengers.

We are calling for:

  • a lump-sum payable to season ticket holders to reflect the hardship experienced
  • recognition of the impact on regular travellers who do not buy season tickets – for instance part-time workers or regular leisure/business passengers. This could take the form of a number of free journeys.
  • special offers/marketing deals designed to rebuild trust/confidence once services have returned to normal
  • for Northern passengers, the adoption of a 15-minute delay ‘trigger’ rather than 30-minute.

One bit of good news. West Coast Railways is running a train backwards and forwards between Oxenholme and Windemere, a line where Northern has suspended trains entirely at the moment. Well done! We’re pressing for these trains to show in the National Rail journey planner.

 

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