Network Rail coughs up £4.1m fund for London Bridge

Running the risk of offering too little, too late, a rail regulator this morning announced a £4.1 million “reparation fund” to help reduce the delays, cancellations and over-crowding on trains into London Bridge, which Croydon commuters have been enduring for the past year while major engineering works and station re-building is undertaken.

Eleven months after scenes such as this at London Bridge, regulators have insisted that Network Rail hires more staff

Eleven months after scenes such as this at London Bridge, regulators have insisted that Network Rail hires more staff

The decision of the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) strongly suggests that Network Rail has been undertaking the massive project without the resources it clearly required to manage to maintain a service on some of the busiest lines into the centre of London.

It also comes nearly 12 months since the “life-threatening” commuter chaos at London Bridge following last Christmas’s closures. The extra cash will pay for more station staff and additional staff to work on engineering issues which may arise.

ORR said that the fund is to “benefit passengers affected by poor performance on Thameslink, Southern and Gatwick Express services, in particular those traveling through London Bridge station”.

Val Shawcross, the London Assembly Member who herself makes the journey from Norwood into London Bridge most days, said, “While it’s very welcome to see more station staff and track workers to tackle disruptions, it’s long overdue, and needs to be matched with a far better performance by the train operators on customer services and real-time information.”

Over the Christmas holiday period this year, track engineering works at Purley will mean no services from Croydon to Brighton, while trains into London will continue to be subject to detours and slow-runnings, on those days when a service is provided.

ORR was today delivering its report on Network Rail’s performance from April to October 2015. They said, “In August, ORR determined that Network Rail had not delivered the reliability and punctuality needed to support Thameslink and Southern train services in 2014-2015. ORR gave Network Rail an opportunity to put forward an offer of reparations to directly benefit passengers or face a £2m financial penalty.

Val Shawcross: "the whole thing is proceeding in a dangeroous way"

Val Shawcross: unimpressed by Network Rail’s latest offer

“Network Rail’s financial resources must be focused on delivering improvements for passengers. We have accepted Network Rail’s offer, which is more than double the proposed fine, creating a ‘Rail Reparation Fund’ of £4.1 million to improve services for affected passengers.”

But Shawcross, a former Labour leader of Croydon Council, was not so easily impressed.

“Even this morning, passengers travelling to London Bridge were confronted with long delays, crowded platforms and too little information about why their journey had been disrupted,” she said.

“With Londoners left to endure continuous chaos at London Bridge in the last year, any measure to ensure they don’t face the same turmoil this winter is of course welcome. Yet, surely common sense dictates that Network Rail should have realised a year ago that they urgently needed better rapid response solutions?”

Anyone needing rail information over the coming weeks can try these contact details for the rail operators. But be warned: when Inside Croydon put in a request for information on Thameslink services at Christmas, it took nearly a week to receive a response.

Great Northern and Thameslink
Available 07:00-22:00, except Christmas Day.
Freephone: 0800 058 2844
Textphone: 0800 975 1052
Email: assistedtravel@thameslinkrailway.com or assistedtravel@greatnorthernrail.com

Gatwick Express and Southern
Available 07:00-22:00, except Christmas Day.
Freephone: 0800 138 1016
Textphone: 0800 138 1018
Email: myjourney@southernrailway.com

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Commuting, East Croydon, London Assembly, London-wide issues, Transport, Val Shawcross and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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