200 fewer trains per day after Govia’s latest timetable cuts

The rail operators running Southern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express “services” are providing 200 trains a day less than they were running this time last month.

All aboard: that’s if you can find a Southern service, that is

That’s according to a senior official at Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR).

All services into Victoria Station were cancelled for almost two weeks over the Christmas and New Year holidays, ostensibly for engineering and signalling works. But before those works were finished, Govia announced that they would be starting 2022 with a much-reduced, emergency timetable, they claim because of staff absences due to covid.

Inside Croydon readers have reacted with anger and frustration at the poor services they are having to endure this year, particularly those with journeys to the south of East Croydon Station.

While many used to have direct services to Purley, Coulsdon and into Surrey, now they have fewer trains each hour and often face a 20-minute-plus wait for a change of train at East Croydon for their onward journey.

Govia’s press office is refusing to provide figures for the number of trains that they were operating on a typical weekday in January 2020 – before the start of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns, when millions of people who would usually rely on their trains to commute into central London daily started working from home.

According to Roger Perkins, across Govia’s four networks (they also operate Great Northern), “We’re running approximately 2,400 services per day now, compared to 2,600 which we had in early December.”

No way to run a railway: operators face financial penalties for cancelled trains, but not for drastically reduced timetables

Perkins added, “Of course, we’ll look to reintroduce services as soon as we realistically can,” without giving any indication when that might be.

Today, four other rail operators, including South Western, which runs trains out of Waterloo, have introduced similarly reduced timetables, cancelling hundreds more trains every day.

South Western Railway’s emergency timetable will see it operate 28 per cent fewer weekday trains compared with pre-pandemic levels – compared with the 17 per cent reduction in its timetable in December 2021.

The firm’s managing director, Claire Mann, said the change is “the most effective means of ensuring our customers receive a reliable service”.

Rail operators face financial penalties for late-running and cancelled services. There are no such penalties when the services are removed from their timetables altogether.

Govia’s Perkins denied this.

“Govia will not benefit in any way from [the] reduced timetable,” he told Inside Croydon.

“Any suggestion that it’s related to driver recruitment or our franchise agreement is wrong.”

Perkins refused to provide comparative figures between the services operated by his company today with January 2020, saying that such numbers are “unhelpful”. He failed to say “unhelpful” to whom.

“We are in a completely different situation, particularly in terms of passenger demand,” Perkins said.

While the Tory government has refused to provide a longer-term financial settlement for Transport for London while its fares income is reduced due to covid, Govia and other train companies are getting quite extensive taxpayer support under emergency agreements.

In the year 2020-2021 Govia received £1.291billion in taxpayer support because of the fall in passenger numbers due to covid.

In the first four months of the financial year 2021-2022, the latest figures made available from the Department for Transport, the company received a further £280million.

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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
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5 Responses to 200 fewer trains per day after Govia’s latest timetable cuts

  1. Peter Gillman says:

    I fell foul of both Thameslink and Southern on an evening trip into central London last week.

    At Norwood Junction most of the Thameslink trains to London Bridge were showing as cancelled.

    The reasons included a signals failure, train breakdown, and shortage of staff. One train was still shown as running, however, but the departures sign showed it as increasingly delayed. The large group waiting for it was therefore perplexed when it just disappeared from the sign altogether.

    A train for Victoria arrived instead and most of us got on to that.

    Coming home was even worse. At London Bridge around 10pm there were initially several Norwood Junction trains showing as running. But one by one they disappeared from the departures board, with no explanation. One delayed train to Tattenham Corner via Norwood Junction was still showing and a large number of passengers got on board.

    It stopped for around 20 minutes at New Cross Gate and did the same at Sydenham – and then we were instructed to leave the train as it was going no further. A flustered station official said he did not think any more trains would be going through Sydenham that night.

    We all disgorged into street where I managed to get an Uber home for about £10. But heavens knows how the Tattenham Corner people got home. The whole experience was an utter shambles and makes nonsense of the rail companies’ claims that trimming the services makes it easier to run the pared-down result.

  2. Kim Watts says:

    No wonder it is so peaceful for those of us living alongside the tracks 🙂

  3. Gerry, Lingfield says:

    Personally I am enjoying the revised timetable since all East Grinstead services now go to London Bridge which is where I work. Last Tuesday it was a quiet service but from the next day everyone went back to work and it was standing room only before Croydon on the 8 coach train. Given that it arrives in London for a 9am start I am beaten by the logic of the service 30 mins later being 12 coaches long. My fear is that when the E Grinstead service returns to Victoria we won’t get our ONE Thameslink service. We were granted ONE train home but as that left nearly 2 hours after my day ended I was always hanging around Croydon for a connection.

    In a further mystifying bit of logic, before Plan B our Thameslink service was 8 coaches and rammed full long before Croydon. When Plan B came along and the numbers dropped, four more coaches were added to the service.

  4. David Squires says:

    If you are going to run a reduced service you should not be charging people peak time fares.

    These days I do everything I can to cycle to work in London rather than use the trains. With the cost exceeding the rate of inflation every year for so many years now every journey is expensive. Even more so when the service to my nearest station (South Croydon) is simply terrible now.

  5. Govia are utter shit.

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