Govia Thameslink will keep Southern franchise after May timetable chaos

The Department for Transport said rail operator Govia Thameslink (GTR) is to keep the Southern and Thameslink franchises, despite chaos for commuters during timetable changes in May.

But the operator, which also runs Great Northern services, won’t make a profit this year, the Government said.

Transport Minister Chris Grayling

Transport Minister Chris Grayling

Brighton MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle spoke out about the timetable issues at the time and said ‘lives are being destroyed’ as a result of the disruption.

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Chris Grayling, Transport Minister, said: “I can announce today (December 4) that the government is holding GTR to account for their role in the unacceptable performance following the introduction of the May timetable.

“GTR will make no profit from its franchise in this financial year and looking ahead, we have also capped the amount of profit that the operator is able to make for the remainder of its franchise, which is due to expire in September 2021.

“Furthermore, GTR will be contributing £15 million towards tangible improvements for passengers. This is in addition to the £15 million the operator has already contributed towards compensation for passengers since the May timetable disruption.

“GTR has agreed to work with the rail user groups representing passengers of Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern, who will determine what improvements this package will fund.

“The department has concluded that a termination of the franchise would cause further and undue disruption for passengers and is not an appropriate course of action.

“Performance after the May timetable change was unacceptable. This action announced today holds GTR to account appropriately and will benefit passengers.

“The department will continue to monitor closely the performance of GTR, particularly during the upcoming December timetable change. These measures do not make GTR immune from further sanctions in the event of any subsequent failure to perform.”

Patrick Verwer, chief executive of Govia Thameslink Railway, said: “We acknowledge the report by the Transport Select Committee into the industry-wide issues surrounding the introduction of the May timetable.

“We have made some significant improvements, particularly in providing information for passengers, following a preliminary investigation by the industry regulator, the Office of Rail and Road.

“We are very sorry for the disruption the May timetable caused and have already processed compensation claims for 68,000 season ticket holders, with the deadline for claims extended to 31 January 2019.

“Since July, services on Thameslink and Great Northern have become more stable and reliable. Next week we will begin to introduce 200 mainly off-peak services to complete the phased roll-out of the May weekday timetable, bringing the total number of daily weekday services to 3,600.”

For more information on the inquiry into the May disruption, visit: orr.gov.uk/rail/consumers/inquiry-into-may-2018-network-disruption