Not a flake of snow has fallen in south London today, but train operators Southern are already flying the white flag in front of expected snowfall tomorrow in Croydon, Surrey and Sussex.
It’s not the wrong kind of snow that’s the problem this time, but the wrong kind of railway regulation as Southern – who operate the Gatwick Express trains into Victoria as well as services through Croydon to London Bridge, Brighton, Epsom, Horsham, Portsmouth and Southampton – have rushed out revised timetables for tomorrow, providing for reduced services. In some cases key routes will have only half-hourly services.
With no sense of the contradiction in the statement, the rail franchise said today, “To provide a reliable service it may be necessary to run fewer trains than normal.” The italics are ours.
Southern says that they think that 4 inches of snow could fall on the network on Friday. The real reason behind the changed timetables being rushed out now is to protect the operators’ shareholders’ interests against compensation claims filed by season-ticket-holding passengers who suffer a delayed service.
And so, at the first sign of any adversity, Southern are not even going to try to maintain a decent service in return for the inflation-busting 4.2 per cent increase in rail fares this month.
Southern explain their position saying that, “On a few rare occasions, we may need to introduce a temporary timetable. Together with Network Rail, we have produced contingency plans for rare occasions of severe network-wide disruption, such as when heavy snowfall and icy weather conditions severely affect the railway.”
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