A light at the end of the tunnel for Southern’s temporary timetable will be glimpsed with the reinstatement of 119 of 345 cancelled services on Monday – but none of those are on the Brighton line.
The reduced timetable was introduced on July 11 following months of chaos on the network due to a dispute between Southern and the RMT union over the introduction of driver-only operated trains and the subsequent downgrading of the guard’s role.
As well as a string of strikes, services were also disrupted by short staffing, caused by a combination of illness and the breakdown of a rota system which relied on staff being willing to work overtime.
Next week, Southern intends to restore services to inner London, London Bridge peak trains running to Bedford, and west London.
However, Brighton and Hove commuters will have to soldier on with the reduced timetable, not to mention ongoing delays, ad hoc cancellations and a further strike next Wednesday and Thursday, for the coming weeks.
A Southern spokesman said: “At this stage, we’re restoring our Metro services. As we’ve said in our release, we’re working on the reinstatement of other services, which will come in incrementally in the coming weeks.”
Charles Horton, GTR’s Chief Executive, said: “We know how difficult life has been for our passengers recently and we are sincerely sorry. Our aim has been to bring back as much of the timetable as quickly as we could and for several weeks we’ve had 5 September as our target to begin the reinstatement of trains.
“We’re pleased that we can restore a large chunk of our train timetable for our passengers on this date but we will not be satisfied until the full timetable is running, and running in a punctual way people can rely on.
“But with another RMT strike called for next week, passengers will be dismayed and angry, as we are, that the union has called yet further cynically-orchestrated action to try and scupper this improved service, and cause maximum disruption, damage and delay in the very week when many people go back to work and back to school after the summer break.
“But we will not be thwarted in our determination to give passengers their trains back. In the face of an intransigent RMT leadership, we’re doing all we can to get our passengers back on track.
“The updated timetable will allow us to run a more comprehensive rush hour service with virtually a full peak service at London Bridge and 95% of peak train capacity at Victoria. We will continue to add services incrementally and we are aiming at restoring the full timetable in the coming weeks.
“However, while we’ll do all we can to restore the services, we are faced with an unparalleled wave of strikes, unjustified industrial disputes and abnormal levels of train crew sickness. We are also part of a live railway network which can result, however much we don’t want them, in unexpected incidents which do cause short notice cancellations and disruption.
“This is the start of the journey to restore the full timetable. It will take time to complete, but passengers can be assured it is now underway.”
Southern says that information on services during the RMT strike action on Wednesday and Thursday, 7 and 8 September will be announced in due course.
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