Southern Rail



The Government has responded to the recent petition to remove Southern’s franchise.
Expected to be back on track by 2018:

Govia Thameslink Railway are delivering plans to reverse decades of under-investment on the rail network. Removing the franchise from GTR will not address the challenges on this part of the network.

The challenges of this part of the network are not new. The industry and Government are addressing the longstanding, historic problems, including driver shortages, rolling stock and network capacity. By 2018 we expect to return the network to the performance that all passengers deserve, and we will do it with increased capacity, renewed facilities and robust, durable infrastructure. Changing the name on the company’s front door would do anything to solve the problems.

This part of the network is extremely complex; indeed it is one of the busiest in Europe. Punctuality on this part of the network has always proven challenging due to the complexity of the infrastructure and the volume of services that operate on it. However, we know that passengers are very frustrated about performance and the service they receive.

The Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) franchise incorporates an unprecedented level of investment in the network. The introduction of new trains, new infrastructure and new ways of working is intended to reverse decades of under-investment on this part of the network and provide passengers with more capacity on more reliable services. Given the recent growth in passenger demand, maintaining the status quo is not an option. But the transformation cannot occur overnight. It will take time and close management across the industry to ensure improvements are delivered to passengers.

Using the contractual mechanisms available, the Secretary of State served a Remedial Plan notice to GTR last year. In response, GTR have developed a Remedial Plan in response which includes obligations for GTR to recruit and train sufficient drivers to operate current and future timetables, improve reliability of rolling stock and provide better customer information. Passengers are still likely to see disruption occurring in the short term as these plans take time to implement, however taking the franchise away from GTR will not help resolve the issues. This would only create a period of uncertainty for passengers and staff alike. While there are plans in place that are addressing the situation, it is right to allow the current operator the time to address and work through the issues.

Over the past six months (as at June 2016), both Southern and Thameslink PPM has been steadily increasing, with the four weekly aggregated figures rising from 75.6% in December 2015 to 83.7% at the end of April 2016 for both services. Unfortunately, the recent challenges have seen a deterioration in the measure.

I’ve been clear that the current situation on Southern and Thameslink routes is unacceptable and that passengers deserve a far better service. However, the situation has been made far worse by union bosses, who are leading their members into a dispute that is in no way justified. During May and June, a significant proportion of the cancellations was caused by the unjustified industrial action on this route, and the operator has a contractual right not to be penalised for events like this that are outside of their control. It is disappointing that union bosses continue to overlook the impact they are having on passengers, and we urge the unions to work with the operator to resolve this issue as a matter of urgency.

The Franchise Agreement sets out the steps the Secretary of State must take should GTR not meet its contractual performance benchmarks. There are further actions available to the Secretary of State should GTR not meet their obligations and be in breach of its Franchise Agreement. At that point the Department will follow its published enforcement process.

Whilst we understand the frustration felt by passengers affected by disruption, we would like to assure you that the Department for Transport is determined to see further improvements and for GTR to provide the service that passengers expect.

Department for Transport


Is there a potential end in sight?


I guess not!


Interesting analysis of the situation here:

Southern hurriedly cancels its anti-RMT poster campaign

Wow! What an analysis! So many factors and variables combining to create a perfect storm. I thought I had a little understanding, but it appears that there is far more to it than I’d imagined


@Brett Superb, thank you. So not as simple as I originally thought. What a c*ck up.


BBC London TV News report about today’s protest and commuters at East Dulwich who now only have ONE train per hour in the peak.


What the? The CEO of Govia Thameslink just kept repeating the same media lines. Why’d she bother? I hope this improves by the time services to London Bridge restart in August.



New Transport Secretary says Southern is his priority…


Oh dear.


Coincides with the Olympics … just like the last strikes coincided with key Euro 2016 football games. How serendipitous! :wink:

RMT can see that Southern is in trouble, and looks like they’re taking the opportunity to disrupt a private franchise, in order to force it into TfL hands. Which may be a good thing - but it shouldn’t be for a union to use its power in this way.


Though TfL is hardly immune to RMT action either.


Quite! The RMT will stop at nothing to protect its own power.


With a 5 day strike coming up and other industrial action promised what is to be done? It feels that with a large capital city, transport workers have an effective lock (we will strike and paralyse the city, we are Millwall etc). So the RMT/Southern are the English cousins of various transport strikes in France, or perhaps the 21st century cousins of the miners c.1974. One solution is to follow a Reagan route when he aggressively took on (I guess effectively sacked) air controllers unless they signed a new contract. But that will mean a dispute rumbling on.
I’m rather left with increasing the ability to work from home …


The sun is shining, the doors to the garden are open and I am working away, Southern and the Unions can get knotted.

Fine for me I know but I do feel sorry for commuters who have to use Southern.


Apparently the strike has been called off for the final two days… but too late so that anything can change about the services tomorrow (Thursday).


Just a quickie


Good news if you like the RMT, strikes and rail chaos:

RMT just voted for more strikes.


Quality rolling stock.