CROYDON COMMENTARY: Has Chris Philp got his railway lines crossed? Or is he simply doing a bit of grandstanding? NICK DAVIES takes issue with his constituency MP over the real problems with our commuter services
Chris Philp can shout at Southern all he likes, but the blame for the mess over rail services into central London from Croydon lies entirely with the Department for Transport.
For Southern isn’t a franchise in the usually accepted sense of the term, but a management contract. DafT pay Govia Thameslink Railway a 10-figure sum each year to run the railway. GoDire pay the fare revenue directly to DafT. For all intents and purposes, the railway is nationalised, with the day-to-day operation contracted out. DafT is entirely responsible for awarding the contract to the cheapest bidder, in full knowledge of them not being up to the task.
Southern’s shortcomings were reported in these pages long ago. See this, for example, from 2012.
Nothing has changed. On the 18 days the 18.19 from Victoria to Coulsdon South could have run in December, the service was never on time.
The service was less than five minutes late just three times; and it was an astonishing 15 minutes or more late six times; on two occasions it was more than half an hour late; and it failed to run at all on one occasion.
Much of this chaos, as so often with Southern, at times when people want to take leave, was put down to “staff shortages”. One has to seriously question the competence of an organisation that can’t work out a holiday rota.
Chris Philp and his friends should be campaigning for a long, hard look at the way the DafT awards these contracts, though I doubt they’ll get much sense from the minister.
As Claire Perry has said, “Putting passengers first is at the heart of DfT policy” …and the combined franchise would… “deliver a step-change on key routes and drive up customer satisfaction. We believe that GTR is best placed to work in partnership with the government. Our ambition is to meet and exceed customer expectations.”
You quickly lose the will to live reading this guff.
Unless attitudes change in government and within DaFT, we’re in for a long wait for our expectations to be met. For the train home to be on time just once in a month would be a start.
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