Southern to bring in reduced timetable, boss tells public meeting in Hove

Posted On 02 Jul 2016 at 7:00 pm

Southern is to bring in a reduced timetable to try to reduce the number of cancelled trains, a senior executive told a public meeting in Hove this afternoon (Saturday 2 July).

Dyan Crowther, chief operating officer of parent company Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), said: “We will be making an announcement on Tuesday (5 July) about an amended timetable which will be operational from (Monday) 11 July.”

In answer to a question at the meeting, held at All Saints Church, in Hove, she said: “It won’t have as many services as now. There will be fewer trains. But there will be more certainty. The revised timetable will improve things.”

She and two colleagues answered questions and listened to complaints from more than 100 passengers, many of them commuters, in a meeting chaired by Hove Labour MP Peter Kyle.

For a report on what the passengers had to say, click here.

At the start of the meeting she said: “The first thing I’m going to do is apologise unreservedly. I’ve worked in the industry for 30 years. I’ve commuted for 30 years. I know the service you’ve experienced for the past few months simply hasn’t been good enough.

“I haven’t got a magic wand. I’m not going to stand here and tell you six things that I’m going to do to make it better by a certain date.

“What I am going to do is give you the assurance that I’m working very hard to fix things. There’s a good team at Govia. It may not seem like it at the moment but they are and they’re working very hard.”

She said that the strife that the travelling public was going through was about “delivering betterment”.

She said that the company had been dealing with two disputes. And while one of them – with the ASLEF union – had been settled, the other – with the RMT union – was unresolved.

They both revolved around the introduction of driver-only operation (DOO) trains. The unions had, she said, agreed a concordat last autumn opposing the change.

Peter Kyle chairs a public meeting at All Saints Church in Hove where Southern executives faced angry passengers

Peter Kyle chairs a public meeting at All Saints Church in Hove where Southern executives faced angry passengers

The company wanted to change the role of guards or conductors to on-board supervisors, she said. No jobs would be lost and parts of the network, guards would remain because older trains would still be in service.

The unions – who were not at the public meeting – oppose the change on safety grounds. The company said that driver-only operated trains are already in use across the network.

One improvement, she said, would be that when there was no guard or on-board supervisor, the train could still run rather than having to be cancelled as at present.

She said: “Driver-only operation will improve performance and reliability.”

And she added that the change had been long planned, with the new trains configured to operate in this way – with the driver closing the doors, using CCTV as a safety back-up.

The existing working arrangements would be kept on older trains, she said, adding: “We’ve got lots of new modern rolling stock. I can’t send the trains back.”

One commuter suggested bringing in the new trains with guards operating the doors until an agreement could be reached with the RMT.

Dyan Crowther said: “This dispute is unnecessary. Our proposals are sensible proposals. We’re going ahead with our proposals and implementing them without collective agreement.”

More than 100 passengers turned out for a public meeting chaired by Hove MP Peter Kyle at All Saints Church in Hove where Southern executives talked about the company's current poor performance

More than 100 passengers turned out for a public meeting chaired by Hove MP Peter Kyle at All Saints Church in Hove where Southern executives talked about the company’s current poor performance

She said that would have preferred to reach an agreement, adding: “I always strive to achieve collective agreement. I used to be in the union myself.”

The company is talking to its 650 conductors, with the changes due to be implemented on Monday 22 August. Southern and the RMT are in talks at the ACAS arbitration and conciliation service.

She said that no one would lose his or her job.

The dispute had affected performance – late and cancelled trains – hugely, she said, as had the modernisation work at London Bridge.

The worst should be over in about a year’s time, with the modernisation work due to be completed by about April 2018.

On hearing some of the experiences of those at the meeting Dyan Crowther said: “Do I get it? Yes I do. I don’t hide in my office in London. I get out on the stations. I know it’s brutal.

“You have to trust us that we’re doing the right thing.”

Train guards on strike outside Brighton Station in April

Train guards on strike outside Brighton Station in April

A member of the audience called out: “You’ve ruined lives!”

Dyan Crowther said: “I know we’ve ruined lives. We’re in the middle of a multimillion-pound improvement programme.

“I totally understand that what you’re experiencing at the moment is painful. We recognise that everyone is in a difficult situation. But it will be worth it.”

“We recognise that everyone is in a difficult situation. Our staff are between a rock and a hard place.

One of her colleagues said: “Your journey in is not pleasant. Your journey home is not pleasant.  We know that. The atmosphere at some of our stations is not pleasant.

“The number of vocal assaults has gone up. Some of the language bring directed at our staff is horrendous.”

Mr Kyle, who has raised Southern’s performance in the House of Commons and in meetings with ministers and the company itself, thanked Dyan Crowther and her colleagues for facing passengers.

He thanked everyone who shared their story and said that he had set up a cross-party group with Conservative MP Sir Nicholas Soames to keep up the pressure for improvements.

As the two-hour meeting ended, Mr Kyle also said that he would continue to give a voice to passengers and to try to ensure it had clout.

  1. malcolm marshall Reply

    Bet none of them will have a pay cut for this which is what they deserve, because the f@@@@@ Tory only panda to the rich

    • Cat sven Reply

      your comment is pathetic.

  2. Valerie Paynter Reply

    How DARE she insult the paying passengers so much. Reduced timetable? Even greater overcrowding then. Or reduced reliance on rail as people shy away from using a dangerous, unreliable service.

    • Cat sven Reply

      It’s a joke. They don’t care, and they’re not made to care… Welcome to a third world railway service… Can’t believe they have just won an award for their customer service, the worlds gone mad!

  3. B Reply

    No jobs lost right now but trains with one member of staff will inevitably lead to less jobs. It’s just profit profit profit they don’t give a shit and they don’t even pretend to. We are being taken for fools.

    • Anon Reply

      And how!

  4. Chris C Reply

    They should try filling the driver and conductor vacancies.

    But why would anyone want to work for such an awful company that tells lies about it’s own staff?

  5. David PRING Reply

    The woman could not answer straight forward questions I was extremely disappointed with the meeting

    • Anon Reply

      More ‘would not’ than ‘could not’ I felt. Utter contempt for us! Totally horrible woman.

  6. Louise Reply

    Pay more and get less. And peter kyle accepted this argument? Brilliant. Wonder how many mps have shares in Govia/ southern etc as can think of no other explanation for this continuing fiasco.

  7. paul Andrews Reply

    Why don’t they trial the driver only trains on the ones where conductors go “sick” ,southern would have a better service and the trial could take place thus killing two birds with one stone

    • Anon Reply

      Because they can’t! Until, or unless Network Rail authorise the running of trains in Driver Only mode over any route, it is illegal. Those routes won’t be signed off until, or unless Network Rail are completely satisfied that it is safe to run trains in that way along those routes. Guards are there for YOUR safety. Or is that not important to you?

  8. MikeM Reply

    Surely the reduced timetable is just a way of reducing the deluge of delay repay claims while Govia inflicts cost savings on their staff.

    Our rail service is a national embarrassment.

  9. Jh Reply

    So if my train is one of them cancelled in the revised timetable will I be able to still claim for no train? I bet not

  10. Tony Craigie Reply

    So a reduced time table basically means cancelled services without having to pay the customer for a delay and repay. Just another way of screwing the customer over again

  11. Dave f Reply

    Less services, less delay repay costs, same annual season ticket prices with less services, looks like win win for Southern but nothing yet again for the paying customer, they have us over a barrel but everything is going to get better with less trains and more overcrowding! It’s an absolute joke and I can’t believe it’s even been recommended!

  12. GlennW Reply

    Dyan Crowther’s previous career was with Network Rail, not a train operating company.

  13. Christopher Hawtree Reply

    For a company to call itself Govia is all the more unfortunate in these times.

    • Gerald Wiley Reply

      Worse than that – they are a wholly owned subsidiary of ‘Go Ahead’ – now there is a true oxymoron!

      • Anon Reply

        What do you mean ‘oxy’moron!

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