Southern forced to introduce Emergency Timetable. RMT claim that staff are being blamed for management incompetence.
(Marsh Link impact – Buses to replace the Rye Shuttle Service morning and evening!)
Southern Press Statement:
Date: 05 Jul 2016
- Reduced timetable is temporary and compensation for delays set against normal and revised timetables
- 95% normal capacity at Victoria in AM and PM peaks; 86% AM & 84% PM capacity at London Bridge
- Southern takes action to encourage staff back to work
Southern is introducing a temporary revised weekday timetable from Monday 11 July to reduce the impact on passengers and staff of unpredictable and late notice cancellations caused daily by unprecedented levels of train crew sickness and unwillingness among others to work overtime.
The operator is also taking action to encourage staff back to work and working with the Government to introduce more generous passenger compensation.
Southern has had issues with train crew availability ever since the RMT launched industrial action over the operator’s plans to evolve the role of many of its on-board staff so that drivers would close the doors instead of conductors.
The number of trains cancelled in the revised timetable is 341 which is broadly similar to the number being cancelled ad hoc today but: the bulk of the train service will be delivered when people need it most by targeting available traincrew to the busiest lines and times of day, and by minimising gaps between trains wherever possible;
- 95% of the capacity in Victoria Station in both the morning and evening peaks will be achieved, along with 86% and 84% of the morning and evening peak capacity into London Bridge;
- passengers will be able to better plan, knowing in advance what services should run;
- the service will be more robust, allowing Southern to recover the timetable faster when problems do occur such as signal failures;
- Southern will run longer trains and replacement bus services as well whenever possible;
- Passengers will be able to claim compensation for delays against either the original or revised timetables.
The revised temporary weekday timetable will run until train crew availability returns to normal. To encourage staff back to work, Southern is also giving conductors back their leisure travel passes and restoring the mutual shift swap system which gives them flexibility in their working patterns.
Southern Passenger Services Director Alex Foulds said:
“We are introducing this temporary weekday revised timetable with reluctance but it is the best thing we can do for our passengers who have been suffering daily cancellations ever since this dispute with the RMT began, and for which we are sincerely sorry.
“It should give the majority of our passengers a better, more consistent service that they can plan around.
“Whilst our first priority is our passengers, we also understand that this has been a difficult time for our staff. Conductors already know that their jobs are guaranteed, that there will be no reduction in salary and that the independent rail safety body has confirmed our plans are safe.
“Now, after listening to our staff, we have also decided to restore leisure travel benefits. All of this, we believe, should help our staff feel able to return to work and so reduce the issues causing the current high level of train cancellations.”
Changes under the temporary timetable include the suspension of Southern’s West London Line services between Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction, reductions in service on the Coastway routes, buses replacing most trains between Seaford and Lewes, and a reduced off-peak service between Tonbridge and Redhill where passengers for Victoria will need to change trains.
This dispute by the RMT is entirely unnecessary. Southern already operates more than 40% of its trains this way. As the RMT’s officials have already admitted, there will be no job losses, and no-one will take a cut in salary.
By asking the driver to close the doors, on-board staff will be able to focus entirely on providing customer service. Plus, Southern won’t have to cancel trains as it does today if a conductor isn’t available.
Alex Foulds said:
“Once again, we urge RMT officials to relax their unbending attitude to our plans and to step over the line in the sand they have drawn opposing any extension of driver-only train operation.”
Changes in the revised timetable include:
- 95% of the capacity in Victoria Station in both the morning and evening peaks will be maintained, along with 86% and 84% of the morning and evening peak capacity into London Bridge;
- Southern’s West London Line between Milton Keynes and Clapham Junction suspended, with alternative transport arranged with other operators.
- Redhill is largely unaffected in the peak, but there will be no services to Victoria in the off-peak, only Thameslink and Southern Horsham services to London Bridge so passengers will need to change at East Croydon.
- Trains will shuttle between Tonbridge and Reigate because through trains to Victoria will not run, with exception of three trains from Reigate in the morning: 07.27 Reigate to London Bridge, 07.40 and 07.52 to Victoria. Passengers on the Southern Tonbridge route will have to change at Redhill.
- Gatwick Express services in the peaks are largely unaffected but there is a reduced service in the off peak.
- East Coastway has no peak service reduction in trains to London, although Rye and Ashford shuttles are removed in peak, with replacement buses being organised. Extra stops are being put into Brighton to Ashford services to cover Falmer where Seaford services are to be withdrawn.
- Between Seaford and Lewes, most services will replaced by buses other than the Seaford to Victoria services (2 in AM and 1 in PM return).
- No through-services on the Metro route to and from Beckenham Junction
- West Coastway – Brighton to Southampton services are mostly withdrawn. Passengers should catch Brighton to Portsmouth trains and change at Barnham onto the Victoria to Southampton trains which are still running. 07.35 to 10.14 no stopping services between Chichester and Havant so replacement buses being provided. 08.51 and 11.15 two buses each way between Havant and Chichester.
The RMT Union Response:
The RMT union has blamed Southern bosses for having to implement an emergency timetable – cancelling 341 trains a day.
The rail operator has blamed ‘unprecedented levels’ of staff sickness for the cancellations.
The union is in an ongoing dispute with Southern over the role of guards on trains.