Scandal of new GTR contract

Scandal of new GTR contract

27 May 2016

RMT Press Office:

New Train Contract will allow Govia Thameslink Railway to inflict 9000 more train cancellations on their passengers.

A new government agreement, representing a last ditch attempt to prevent the termination of the Govia Thameslink railway franchise agreement, will allow the company to increase train cancellations by a third, from 23,391  to 32,000 a year, representing almost 9000 additional cancellations per year the RMT has revealed.
The “remedial plan” was produced in February by GTR and agreed with the Government but was only smuggled out by Ministers under a raft of complex franchise documents on 26 May.  

The purpose of the Plan, which has amended the original franchise agreement is “to address GTR's contractual breach of the Schedule 7.1 benchmark for cancellations…and admits that “the overall number of cancellations has increased and GTR have exceeded its threshold for TOC [Train Operating Company] cancellations.”
But astonishingly the plan then goes on to allow GTR to inflict more misery on passengers by increasing the “Default performance level” for train cancellations by a third from 2.01%  of train services in the original franchise agreement to a maximum of 2.75% in the new agreement over the coming months.  The Default performance level will also continue to allow for more trains to be cancelled under the new agreement compared to the original franchise agreement.

RMT estimates that on average this will increase the number of trains cancelled before GTR is in breach of its franchise agreement from 23,391 to 32,000.
At the same time a new independent poll by Opinium has found that 87% of passengers who have to endure using GTR every day want the company thrown off the railway and the service nationalised.
The Remedial Plan, which was agreed in February before any industrial action, also admits that the controversial and unpopular Driver Only Operation system already operated on part of the network has,
“significantly increased the number of incidents”.. “causing trains to be delayed and in some cases restricted to call at staffed stations only or cancelled.”
Under an alarming interpretation of the Freedom of Information Act, the Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McCloughlin has also ordered 25 redactions, mostly relating to staffing issues, from the 20 page document. Despite this the document admits that issues relating to drivers are caused by mismanagement and regular disruption to the franchise has had “a debilitating effect on frontline staff, including traincrew.”

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:

“The dirty secrets of rail franchising are dragged out under the spotlight in this heavily-redacted document which will send shock-waves through the rail industry and which will also spark a new wave of anger amongst the passengers on the GTR franchise who are caught in the middle of this scandal.

“Not only are the Government bending the rules, and inflicting more misery on the travelling public, but they are admitting that Driver Only Operation, the issue at the heart of the current Southern dispute, has already compromised safety and led to a spate of cancellations. The Government are now opening the door to GTR to hack-back and cancel services at will without fear of any penalty.

“It is shocking that the day after even Tory MP’s were lining up to demand that GTR be stripped of the franchise that the Government have done the complete opposite and given the company carte-blanche to carry on treating their passengers and staff with complete and utter contempt.

“Nearly 90% of GTR’s regular users want the company thrown out and the routes taken under public ownership. This document will fuel that campaign and RMT will be making sure that everyone knows just what is going on in the dark, sordid corners of the rail franchising racket.”

Note to editors
Using the ORR figures for GTR trains planned from Q3 and 4 2014 and Q1 and 2 2015
A total for each quarter was  
277,483    288,071    296,878    301,313
This is 1,163,745 over twelve months
Divided by 364 you get an average of 3,197 a day
A benchmark figure of 2.01% would see cancellations over a year limited to 23,391
The new maximum benchmark figure of 2.75% would see 32,002, almost 9000 more trains a year.

The Remedial Plan is at

Opinion surveyed 507 GTR southern users on 11 – 13 May
Two thirds (68%) would support ending privatisation and bringing GTR Southern back into public ownership in
This rose to 87% of passengers who use GTR every day

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