Brighton and Hove commuters gather for Southern protest at Victoria

Posted On 29 Sep 2016 at 6:02 pm

Commuters from Brighton and Hove are joining a protest about Southern’s train service at Victoria Station this evening (Thursday 29 September).

The protest – organised by the the Association of British Commuters – is due to start on the concourse at Victoria at 6pm.

It comes as the association edged closer to its £25,000 crowdfunding target for legal fees to bring a judicial review of the Department for Transport’s handling of the Southern franchise.

The association believes that the problems at Southern’s owner – Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) – are in part caused by the DfT.

Having already exceeded its original £10,000 target, the association has now raised almost £20,000 from more than 1,000 supporters.

To donate, click here.

The group said: “The Southern Rail crisis cannot be resolved until we achieve the clarity that can only be found in essential documents currently redacted or undisclosed by the DfT.

“They have so far failed to reveal these documents, either to lawyers, the public or to the Parliamentary Select Committee for Transport itself.

“Our call for #SouthernJustice is the commuter’s last resort – no progress can be made until the public are able to assess the contents of these essential documents – the only way to determine if, and how, Govia are in breach of their franchise agreement.

“These include documents referred to in the franchise agreement, the breach notice served on Govia on 7 July 2015 (which the DfT has a clear duty to publish) and the disclosure of a complete copy of February’s remedial plan, by which it is possible to assess whether Govia has been compliant.

“We also feel strongly that the public have a right to see the report by Chris Gibb’s project board of 1 September, which has not been made public.

“Much of the media focuses on a simple narrative of unions v management. We believe this depiction is vastly insufficient in analysing the real timescale and issues behind the crisis and, more worryingly still, the dangers behind a unique kind of ‘management contract’ that may see GTR acting at the behest of the government while the DfT continue to avoid all transparency and accountability.”

  1. Geoff Taylor Reply

    The relentless claim by the DfT and Southern that the endless disruption and failure to deliver even the amended timetable is the fault of the RMT is totally misleading. I do not support the RMT action BUT the service was a shambles for months (years!) before the union took any action and even now you can hardly tell the difference between a strike day and any other day. Today dozens of trains are cancelled because of ‘faults on the train’ or ‘additional maintenance required’ – these are the direct responsibility of the company – they can’t blame the RMT or Network Rail. Unless they are going to claim that guards are sabotaging the trains at night while on union-organised fake sick leave (another company/DfT claim based on precisely zero evidence). Today loads more trains will be cancelled because of shortage of drivers – another company responsibility probably because they are leaving faster than they can be trained because they don’t want to work for GTR! Southern claim that the reopening of the Seaford branch is evidence of their wonderful management – they forget to say that the guards on that line are all managers who have been taken off their normal duties for two months. I wish the Association of British Commuters luck in their quest for truth.

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