Passengers on Southern and Thameslink experienced the worst service in the UK between 2014 and 2017 according to a report by the National Audit Office.
It has found since Govia Thameslink took over the franchise in July 2015, which also includes Great Northern Rail, 7.7% of services have either been cancelled or delayed by more than 30 minutes – above the average of 2.8% for the rest of the country.
More than a 3rd of which were due to crew shortages.
Reigate MP Crispin Blunt has responded by calling for the some of the revenue made from the franchise to be used for compensation and lowering fares which are disproportionately higher in the area.
Crispin Blunt’s statement in full:
“It will not come as a surprise to local rail users who have endured appalling levels of service disruption over recent years that the Govia Thameslink Railway operation has provided the worst rail service in the country. The report identifies the industrial action as a cause, as well as failures to fully understand the underlying condition and problems of the existing network when the franchise was awarded, and a failure to consider the number of drivers available to deliver the timetable. There are clearly lessons to be learnt for the design of the franchise in the future, including staffing issues and better coordination with Network Rail on infrastructure improvement works.
“Despite the disruption, however, the Department for Transport has still generated the expected £3.6 billion from this franchise*, which after paying £2.8 billion to GTR, leaves a net revenue of £760 million for the Government. I will continue to urge Transport and Treasury Ministers to use some of that revenue to provide compensation for passengers, including through lower and fairer fares.
“Following the new ministerial appointments made to the DfT yesterday, I am seeking an early meeting with Jo Johnson MP in the expectation that he will be responsible for railways policy going forward. I am grateful for the efforts of Paul Maynard MP and the commitment he showed as Rail Minister to respond to the case that I and the local Rail Users’ Association have been making for fairer fares on behalf of passengers.
“In particular, I will be urging the new Rail Minister and officials to build on the work started to address the ‘Redhill hump’ which has higher fares than comparable stations.
“Following the announcement of a fares freeze which I was led to believe would apply to all regulated fares, such as day returns, I am as disappointed as local rail users are to discover that the freeze has only been applied some ‘any Permitted’ London Terminals season tickets. With the withdrawal of ‘Southern-only’ tickets, commuters are being asked to pay more for the privilege of using the inferior Thameslink metro trains.
“I am seeking clarification from the DfT on this, bearing in mind that fares from Redhill/Reigate and other stations pay disproportionately higher fares across ticket types. Fares and performance issues on this franchise must be at the top of the new Minister’s in-tray.”