Problems experienced by passengers on the first two days of Southern and Thameslink’s new timetables should be the ‘final straw’ for the franchise, according to a Tory MP.
Rail operator Govia Thameslink Railway introduced the changes on Sunday (May 20) as part of plans to improve reliability and boost capacity across the network.
However on Sunday a number of Thameslink services were cancelled for operational reasons, while this morning passengers have reported cancellations, delays and overcrowding on Southern trains.
The RMT union, which has been fighting GTR over the further extension of driver-only operation across the Southern network, suggested ‘Meltdown Monday’ should spell the end for the franchise.
This sentiment was echoed by Maria Caulfield, Conservative MP for Lewes, who tweeted: “We are only on day two of the new timetable which has seen significant loss of services for my constituents and there is already an amended timetable out with further losses because GTR can’t cope. This has to be the final straw. GTR must lose franchise now.”
A GTR spokesperson said: “We are implementing over the coming weeks the biggest timetable change in a generation to boost capacity and improve reliability, introducing 400 extra daily trains and space for 50,000 extra passengers in the peak.
“Due to the scale and complexity of the task, these changes will be made incrementally. This involves redeploying drivers and trains and changing operating practices to achieve a large increase in the number of services, carriages and station stops.
“Despite some cancellations, passengers will benefit from an overall increase in capacity with immediate effect.
“We apologise to customers for any inconvenience caused.”
Mick Cash, general secretary at the RMT, repeated calls for the Government to strip GTR of the franchise.
He said: “The union is picking up reports from both Northern and GTR of a hopeless lack of planning, combined with a shortage of crew and fleet, which has reduced the Monday morning journey to a nightmare for many passengers.
“It is our members dealing with the anger at the sharp end not the well-paid top brass from Arriva and Govia who are responsible for this Meltdown Monday on our railways.”
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