Protest against Southern Rail to be held at Brighton Station

Posted On 13 Jun 2016 at 2:30 pm

Fed up commuters are to hold a demonstration at Brighton Station tomorrow evening in protest at Southern keeping its franchise despite weeks of chaos on the Brighton mainline.

Picture by Phil Richards on Flickr

Picture by Phil Richards on Flickr

The news comes as the RMT union, which has called several strikes in protest at the move to driver-only trains, slammed Go-Ahead for paying its bosses huge bonuses while passengers suffer.

As well as three walkouts, services have been disrupted by daily cancellations blamed on staffing problems – which Southern says is down to union members calling in sick, and which the RMT says is down to poor management and a lack of overall staff.

The Medical

The protest, organised by a Twitter account named @southernrailout, is being held on the concourse at 6.30pm tomorrow.

A blog post quoting an anonymous member of railway staff which claims that Southern has banned guards from working overtime in punishment for striking is being widely shared today – but Southern Rail categorically denies the claims.

But amid the accusations and counter-accusations flying around, one thing is certain – commuters are bearing the brunt of the problems.

Following a meeting between MPs and Govia last week, Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas said: “The appalling problems for rail passengers on the Brighton Mainline provide a classic example of how complicated relationships in our privatised train industry are.

“Passengers are at the mercy of contracts that are not subject to democratic oversight.

“Ministers shift the goalposts to let Govia off defaulting, and all MPs and passengers have to go on is censored information, released three months late. Commercial confidentiality is in the way of transparency and accountability.”

The RMT today published details of Go-Ahead’s company accounts which showed that its chief executive David Brown was paid £2.16million from July 2014 and June 2015, mostly in bonuses. The previous year he was paid £1.96million, and the year before £942,000.

The accounts also show that shareholders were paid £36.7million in dividends in 2014/15 and £34.7million in 2013/14.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “It is truly shocking that part of the bonuses paid by the British passenger to the bosses of GTR is down to their ‘successful mobilisation’ of the current franchise.

“Commuters paying up to £5000 a year for these failing service will be rightly furious. These bonuses are truly money for old rope.

“RMT has revealed that GTR are already being allowed to increase cancellations by a third to 32,000 under its new contract with the Government and now we find that the top brass at this basket-case franchise are on a one way ticket to the bank as well.

“This situation is a national disgrace.”

On Wednesday, the RMT is to be joined by French railways workers to lobby the offices of Keolis, which co-owns GTR with Go-Ahead.

A spokesman for Go-Ahead said it did not wish to comment on the RMT’s remarks, but a Southern spokesman said the claims about a ban on overtime were “categorically untrue”.

He said: “This is unfounded and untrue. We are doing our best to run as many trains as possible under very difficult circumstances. Every train that is cancelled also costs us a significant financial penalty; there is simply no incentive for us to cancel trains unnecessarily.”

    • nohope Reply

      Just give the contract to virgin trains. Southerns always been crap even without the strikes!

  1. kat Reply

    hiya, thanks for the coverage, but it’s TOMORROW (Tues)

  2. N Turley Reply

    The protest is TOMORROW – that’s TUESDAY 14th at 6.30

  3. feline1 Reply

    So sick of Govia’s unrelenting shitness

  4. Goldmojito Reply

    That’s if any trains will be getting commuters home in time to strike…

  5. Mike Reply

    So far, in the past couple of weeks alone, Southern / Thameslink et al have cost me at least 6 hours of delays as they have presided over this total debacle. Quite frankly, I’m fed up of the repeated poor quality excuses from Go Via for the delays to services and I am annoyed that they are using commuters as pawns in an industrial dispute of Go Via’s making. I signed the petition calling for a review of Go Via’s franchise and got a particularly unhelpful page of waffle emailed to me by an aide to a very junior minister. This whole mess is undermining the economy locally and damaging the city’s reputation, and the health of the many commuters who are held hostage by Go Via as they (try) to travel to and from their place of work. Good riddance in my view. Time for a change.

  6. John Doe Reply

    All conductors who went on strike had any privs removed/barred once they returned to work ie rest day working
    Southern relied on staff members working rest days to cover all services so it’s easy for them to blame the staff, also the government have allowed southern to cancel an extra 9000 services without receiving any punishment in fines

  7. Diado Reply

    And just to add further insult, having ruined commuters’ days and weeks, they’re then regularly denying completely valid delay repay claims. Pathetic company. Get rid of them.

  8. saveHOVE Reply

    Please all think about Hove Station needs too when protesting tomorrow:
    1. Retain ticket offices they are hellbent on closing
    2. Sort out overline stair access as not DDA compliant, excludes use by mothers with pushchairs, disabled with walking aids or in chairs, the frail elderly. A lift is needed urgently on Hove Park Villas side and on Goldstone Villas side

  9. J. T. Kirk Reply

    Bear in mind folks you have the same problems on B&H buses, also owned by Go-Ahead, only not so much in your face. You see the problems on the train displays and announcements. You do not have that luxury with the bus displays. I work for B&H buses, and we are short of great many drivers, hence buses not turning up, running late, or terminating early. Hence the vote for Industrial action…. Protest against Southern do, but you would be better off protesting against Go-Ahead itself.

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  11. Gary Singketon Reply

    David Brown get off your arsenal and come and face your customers, am sure they would be very pleased to meet you and hear your justification of extortionate fairs for such a shit service. I do however predict that if coming by train you will probably be too late ……

  12. Angry staff Reply

    The safety critical role of a guard is not just about opening and closing doors. It’s about dealing with an incident and helping passengers safely if the driver becomes incapacitated.
    About safe guarding passengers in the event of a fire or a detachment
    All southern conductors that did strike have had their and their families passes to travel removed and parking passes. Have been deducted 2 shifts pay even though they only went on strike for one shift and been told they cannot do overtime
    There are several conductor vacancies that the company won’t fill because they want rid of the conductor role. These vacancies are being covered by conductors working rest days until the overtime ban.
    Cancellations are being blamed on staff sickness when in reality its staff shortages
    All to save money not to put in the commuters pocket oh no to pay fat wages and big dividends to shareholders

    • Jane Smith Reply

      Angry staff’s comment is completely correct and so is John Doe’s comments. Southern is lying to the public and news media. What is even, worse no one is looking deeper into the allegations made by southern about staffing and sickness

      Every roster has cover staff so where are the cover staff that are rostered to work to cover the jobs when other staff is sick to avoid train cancellation?

      If you think back in 2000 (not sure the exact date) but Southern Railway came into existence because the Labour Government at that time took the franchise away from Connex due to poor management & performance.
      Is this all just a coincidence again?

      Click on the link below and you will see nothing has changed just the dates
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/988016.stm

  13. Benny leters Reply

    I have a new-born child and ill wife I dont drive and rely on the trains to get me home, luckily we have a very supportive family that really help out, I pay a ridiculous amount of money on a yearly basis to get me to and from my destination and it will take me 2 and a half hours sometimes 3 to make a 40 minute journey! All because nobody is doing there job!- the shuttle bus the other day from Brighton to Hove was cancelled with around 50 people needing to catch the connecting train who then couldn’t all because a ticket gaurd wanted a break-despite there being 3 ticket gaurds available and a driver in the cockpit ready to leave! Not to mention all of the eternally cancelled trains from london victoria and to Portsmouth and Southampton (nearly everyday) I will be joining the protest and hope that the management and staff take note that they cannot treat people like this anymore providing the trains aren’t cancelled.

  14. David camaron Reply

    I hope the trains cancel every day just to annoy the bad commuters

    • David camaron Reply

  15. Debbie Reply

    The full text of Caroline Lucas’s blog post on her meeting with Govia bosses says that Govia receive a fee for running the franchise but the actual revenue goes to the Department of Transport. So the Govt have no incentive to enforce a better service – hence them reducing Govia’s targets. It’s completely corrupt. Passengers have no alternative, so there’s no competition. So much for the free market.

  16. stephen docherty Reply

    Regular cancellations, lack of trains, lack of drivers/staff, regular late-running trains……
    How long can this be allowed to go on?
    I’ll be at the protest for sure……so fed up with this.

  17. stephen docherty Reply

    Cancelled trains, lack of drivers/staff, short-formation of trains, re-routed trains, overcrowded trains – today we have 24 carriage worth in 8 carriages due to several cancellations, regular late-running services….
    How long can this be allowed to continue?
    I will be at the protest.
    I’m so fed up with this affecting my daily life….and I pay a lot for this misery.

  18. Brad Reply

    A mass congregation of passengers at Brighton (due to no trains running) is not an uncommon sight at the moment. One problem, they actually need to run the trains out of London so many of us can make this on time!!

  19. Joaquin Fanker Reply

    Just listening to conversations on this morning’s delayed, overcrowded train it sounded as if passengers were close to mutiny.
    These rail links into London are the beating heart of the entire country’s economy and those complicit on both sides of this squabble would do well to remember that.

  20. Phill Reply

    I’m relying on my train from Clapham Junction to get me there on time…

  21. Samantha Byrne-Smith Reply

    Southern are a disgrace. Last year my daughter’s rail pass took 7 weeks to be issued because the ONE member of staff trained to do it at Barnham station was off sick. I had to get my MP involved in the end to get it resolved. They trained another member of staff eventually after I pointed out that now the staff member’s health had worsened and he had surgery and been admitted into intensive care, what if (worse case scenario) he died? Would no-one ever get a Scholar’s Season Ticket ever again? My MP got an apology from Govia to pass on to me, but I never got one directly. The 2 line letter I got from Southern’s Customer Services department was barely recognisable as the English language! £23 in phone calls to get the situation resolved. At one point they had mistakenly opened up 3 complaint files on the computer, one in my name, one in my husband’s and one in my daughter’s – so no-one answering the phone had the complete picture ever.

  22. Nick, West Hove Reply

    It really is unrelenting. When this rail company manages to get you to your destination within 30 minutes you feel like you’ve had a good journey.

    And I would certainly like to add my voice to those who’ve complained about Delay Repay – it is onerous to use the website and they seem to be able to reject most legitimate claims.

  23. Christian Blundell Reply

    No chance of that being well attended, we’ll all be trying to get home from London on the train!

  24. David Beeching Reply

    ‘Thieves on the Line’ should be their new advertising slogan.

  25. Susie Brown Reply

    Whoever organised this protest at 6.30 clearly isn’t a commuter. No-one leaving work at a fairly normal time of 5.30 in London can be back to Brighton before 7.30 at the earliest.

    • ash Reply

      Agreed!

    • Fed Up of Southern Reply

      They may commute to Eastbourne, Hove, Chichester….not all commuters travel to London.

  26. Colin Stone Reply

    How does the top man make so much money when the service is so bad? I am happy to come in an do a terrible job for half of that money? I may be late to work each day though as I will need to get there by train.

  27. ash Reply

    Can we all keep protesting till they actually do something to fix the problem? Next protest should be scheduled at London Bridge and London Victoria where I reckon the protests would be heard loud and clear. Sick of spending so much time on platforms waiting for another cancellation!

  28. Ben Hamp Reply

    Every. Single. Day. Clapham Junction is borderline unsafe to stand on after 5.30pm due to the amount of passengers trying to get home, only to be met with the familiar news that more trains have cancelled.

    Delay Repay is an absolute joke also.

    This simply cannot go on.

  29. Kate Reply

    I agree that the timing of the protest is unfortunate. My husband and I would both join, but we are never back by 6:30 due to the delays!

  30. Andrew, Worthing Reply

    Spare a thought for those on the Littlehampton Branch. The delays from London into Brighton although bad, are nothing in comparison to the delays to Worthing….
    I’m currently seeing a 1hour 30 minute journey extended to 2 hours thirty and more. On Friday it was four and that was only because my Wife picked me up!
    This situation is a disgrace and I believe it to be the fault of both Govia and the Guards. Southern are a shambles they couldn’t organise a proverbial piss up in a brewery, whilst the Guards are clearly taking advantage of the situation.
    Overall though, personally I’d like to the franchise removed, the current ownership is little more than a cartel which would be refused by any reasonable organisation. I’m not big on nationalisation, but in this case privatisation has hit the buffers! Governance of the line should be handed to the Department of Transport in some way. Then we’d have a body who was directly accountable and unable to dodge this ineptitude…. They’d have to do something about it!
    One more thing… If the government got their finger out and gave the second runway to Gatwick (which is the only really sensible and viable option anyway) we could then see large scale long-term investment into the line and an end to this nonsense (providing they didn’t hand it to Southern of course!)
    Oh and as for delay repay its just a scam, the website is deliberately difficult to use and has (no doubt intentional) bugs which stop you from making more than one claim on weekly and monthly seasons!
    I called the help desk and a beleaguered client rep said they knew about the bug, but it wasn’t due to be fixed, you can apply by royal mail though… Really? What century are we in? Just another avoidance tactic from Southern/Govia.

    I would attend the protest, but I’m afraid my train will probably be delayed!

  31. Andrew, Worthing Reply

    One more thought,

    I suspect if most companies were managed this way, or most private company employees acted this way then they would surely all be facing the sack!

  32. Steve Eastty Reply

    Good luck to all those protesting tonight (it’s my birthday so I won’t be joining you), but hopefully I’ve spread the word enough. I got so fed-up with it that I took to my bike for a week, despite my injured knee. Repay delay is a no reward. I’m frequently 26 mins late, which I’m sure Southern have factored into to their planned cancellations. I’ve spent just as much on tea at Brighton as I’ll get back from repay delay. We are caught in the middle and as usual the government don’t give a rat’s arse.

  33. Mr Reality Reply

    What a load of crap!!

    You’re going to protest about having to wait at stations for a train by waiting around at a station??

    Get a grip people!! Its the unions and the lazy staff that are not open to change that are affecting our trains and ability to get home. Write to the morons at RMT to wind their neck in and tell their members to get back to work.

    If you think the rail bosses get paid well you should check out how much union leaders get!!

    • clive tring Reply

      Hello Mr Brown, how nice of you to post.

  34. Fed Up of Southern Reply

    I live on the outskirts of London otherwise I would join this protest.

  35. Andrew, Worthing Reply

    Mr reality, I would draw your attention to the fact that the share distribution for last year was up 3 million on the previous and the CEO is earning in the region of 1.3 mill also up around 200k from last year.

    I’m no great fan of Unions, but someone earning 1.3 mill for a company that has just increased its distribution by 3 mill should actually be delivering successful change and be conducting successful negotiations with unions on behalf of the customers, not delivering the shambles that is Southern.

    They’re all to blame, the trouble is Mr Millions and his share holder buddies get their increases despite the shambolic service they deliver, it’s almost as though the worse the service gets the more they get paid and if that’s not worth protesting about I don’t know what is.

    I think Mr reality you need to make a check on the reality yourself. If you want the real facts pick up a copy of the latest edition of Private Eye… it’s all in there.

  36. Jeff Reply

    When is the next laughable “Meet the Idiot Manager” event or has that been cancelled on police advice. I would love to join the protest in Brighton this evening but I am stuck at London Bridge as apparently Southern have cancelled Brighton trains to reduce the numbers at the protest. . Where is our chauffeur driven MP?

  37. Mark Reply

    Southern is just beyond a joke. Why are the MPs not doing something to hold the company directors accountable?!!! A complete farce. Bastards

  38. Nick Harvey Reply

    The @SouthernRailUK protest anger should be aimed at Claire Perry MP. As ‘Rail Minister’ she could call in the Southern franchise for review – or at least impose appropriate penalties for the ‘shambolic’ service. Instead she says to passengers wait until 2018, things will be better then…

  39. Gulludada Reply

    Petition: Remove the franchise for Southern Rail from Govia Thameslink.

    https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/116904

  40. Why not boycott trains Reply

    I’d turn up for this but ironically I’d have to get the train

  41. Ej Reply

    Having been at the receiving end of multiple delays especially in the last few months and having heard the most bizarre explanations for trains not running or being delayed I strongly believe the only way we are going to get a good service is if the contract is given to a different company. Southern are beyond redemption now and need to go. The government needs to intervene in the interest of the commuters. As soon as possible please. We can’t take anymore.

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