GTR franchise: Too few drivers at troubled train firm

GTR franchise: Too few drivers at troubled train firm

But the National Audit Office said Ministers failed to "fully evaluate" the risk or the potential effects on customers.

Since Govia began operating the full franchise of services, around 7.7 per cent have either been cancelled or delayed by over half-an-hour, compared with 2.8 per cent on the rest of the network. The franchise did not include Southern originally, but this part of the network was merged with Thameslink Great Northern in July 2015, creating a "super franchise". "We expect service improvements to continue as the Thameslink programme is completed". The largest of these fleets is formed by Class 700 Siemens units for the core Thameslink routes.

'People are thoroughly fed up with the way our train services are running.

The DfT and Govia blamed the strikes for the failings.

This contributed to only around 62% of services arriving within 5 minutes of their arrival time during a period of strike action in November and December 2016.

The work in October 2018 and February 2019 is a key part of a £300m government-funded programme to tackle delay hotspots and boost the reliability of the railway in the south east, cutting delays and providing a better, more reliable rail service to the 300,000 passengers who travel on the Brighton Main Line each day.

The DfT said industrial action had caused a shortage of train crews.

The major industrial action on Southern in response to plans to introduce driver-controlled operation had not been expected, although the DfT had accepted that there was a risk of some opposition.

"The National Audit Office (NAO) is clear that one of the reasons Govia Thameslink has provided such poor value for money is because it has tried to cut costs by understaffing its trains".

Network Rail and the Department for Transport (DfT) were also criticised for not having a good understanding of the infrastructure's frailty.

"As part of this drive to modernise, we are pioneering improvements in trains and technology, and have updated practices for train drivers and crew that other operators are only now adopting".

The DfT admitted disruption to passengers was "unacceptable", but said services had improved over the last 12 months.

The National Audit Office said that a series of mistakes by the Department for Transport had led to shortcomings in the £8 billion franchise, meaning that it had failed to provide value for money for the taxpayer.

'Some of the problems could have been avoided if the department had taken more care to consider passengers, ' NAO boss Amyas Morse said.

It said that the company, which carries almost 900,000 passengers per day on Southern, Thameslink, ... It urged the Department for Transport to "get a grip" on its monitoring and enforcement of GTR's contract, improve services and compensate passengers, as a matter of urgency.

"Passengers will increasingly see the benefits of this modernisation project in terms of reliability, punctuality and new journey options, delivered in conjunction with the Government's Thameslink Programme".

"Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGH) is the UK's largest franchise - carrying nearly a million passengers a day - and the report identifies numerous root causes for the challenges it has faced since its formation in 2014".

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