Bexhill campaigners: Make Southern rely on customers for income

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A Bexhill rail campaigner called on the government to change the way Southern Rail is funded to make the company dependant on passengers.

Southern’s parent company Govia Thameslink Railway is financed by the government with all ticket proceeds going to Whitehall.

This means ticket sales do not affect GTR’s income, which may have dropped following the year-long issues with strikes, delays and cancellations.

Bexhill Rail Action Group chairman Hugh Sharp believes this undermines Southern’s capability as a business and a railway operator.

“Being dependent on the government, rather than its customers, for its income stream renders GTR vulnerable to pressure to deliver political objectives at the expense of normal commercial decisions,” Mr Sharp said in a letter to the Observer.

“And, as recent media analysis has shown, there is considerable evidence that the guiding principle behind Southern rail services has shifted from running the best possible railway to becoming an arm of Government industrial relations policy.”

GTR’s attempts to ‘modernise’ the Southern network has been met with opposition from unions, whose strikes have crippled the service with no trains for Bexhill during them.

Mr Sharp and BRAG do not believe GTR should be stripped of the franchise like many others have called for, but believe the contract should be redrawn making the operator reliant on customers, which would either make or break the company.

A Southern spokesman said: “We aren’t making money during industrial action and any savings are returned to government to off-set against the loss of revenue.”

Read Mr Sharp’s letter in full in the paper on Friday (December 23).

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