Published: Fri, July 14, 2017
Money | By Armando Alvarado

Southern Rail owner fined £13.4m over poor performance

Southern Rail owner fined £13.4m over poor performance

Southern Railway has been ordered to pay for a £13.4 million package of improvements after Transport Secretary Chris Grayling decided that industrial action does not fully explain the operator's poor performance.

"Your investment in passenger benefits and plans to improve performance for passengers will be instrumental in making sure your customers receive reliable and efficient services".

The argument over whether Govia had been a victim of "force majeure" - factors outside its control - has been running since early previous year.

Charles Horton, GTR's chief executive said: "We are pleased that this issue has been concluded, and accept and are sorry that our service levels haven't been good enough for passengers". This is likely to lead to the complete shutdown of Southern for a week, causing disruption for up to 300,000 passengers.

'And when trains are shorter than they ought to be, it can leave already busy services unbearably overcrowded'.

Whilst unions and commuter groups hoped the government would sack the company behind Southern Railway, this was never going to happen as it would pander to ideas of rail nationalisation.

Mick Whelan, Aslef general secretary, said: "Now is the time for Chris Grayling and the Department for Transport to step in and assist in finding a resolution to a problem they caused".

The DfT has fined Southern £13m but it has also given Southern £13m to improve services.

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"Passengers who depend on Southern have been badly let down".

Train drivers' union Aslef has announced fresh strike dates for August, in a dispute with Southern rail.

The Association of British Commuters had lodged a case against the government, saying there had been an unreasonable delay in determining whether Southern had breached its franchise obligations.

Govia Thameslink (GTR) took over the Southern rail franchise in 2015 and its contract with the Department for Transport (DfT) runs until 2021. But he said trade union action had been the biggest cause of disruption.

"We run the most congested network in the United Kingdom where passenger journeys have doubled in the last twelve years".

Mr Cash said: "This pathetic response to the abject failure by Southern/GTR to deliver on their contract doesn't even stack up to a slap on the wrist.

This has meant we have been running services for more and more passengers while also allowing stations to be rebuilt, platforms extended, track and signalling replaced and new trains and technology introduced too".

"No wonder the company are gloating".

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