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TOPIC: Last chance for Govia?

Last chance for Govia? 04 Aug 2018 14:02 #4010

Basil Clarke Basil Clarke's Avatar Topic Author

This is Harringay station at around 7pm on Friday, photographed by Richard McKeever , who tweeted the following:

@GNRailUK your performance this evening was woeful and potentially life threatening. Of course things will go wrong but the way you managed disruption today was amateur.

I think "amateur" is as good a word as any to describe Govia's management of their franchise. Same goes for the Department for Transport's management of the entire rail network under the leadership of Chris Grayling.

There was a time when our railways were run by professionals who had spent their entire careers with BR and knew how to run railways. In defence of rail privatisation, the usual mantra is "But what about the curled up sandwiches they sold?" There's no arguing with that, is there? After all, the quality of sandwiches is clearly more important than reliable train services...

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Last chance for Govia? 04 Aug 2018 22:30 #4011

High five to the early morning PG ticket office staff who sorted things covered in previous posting in a jiffy. So let’s have:
More ticket office staff so they can actually be maned when they are scheduled to be;
Enough train drivers to drive the trains that are timetabled to run;
Enough trains to fill the scheduled (and promised 6 per hour) timetable;
Effective management of the railways; and
A lot less Chris Grayling.
Personally I’m happy to pay a fare that’s equitable for all parties; doesn’t bounce around, and in particular vary depending on which channel you use (ticket prices for exactly the same journey can be different on line, via station machines and station ticket offices); where trains turn up when they are scheduled to; and get you to where you expect to go to at the time they state they will; while the fare paid doesn’t include a subsidy to public transport in random European countries, nor a whopping divided / bonus to certain controlling / managing parties when the service is patently substandard. Is that really too much to ask?
And might this huge shortcoming, and equivalents in several other sectors, have anything to do with the relatively poor level of productivity across the UK?

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Last chance for Govia? 09 Aug 2018 09:33 #4016

I too got caught in that incident last Friday where the whole timetable collapsed from about 5pm onwards with the only explanation being that a train had broken down earlier that day. I was at Highbury & Islington waiting for a train to Winchmore Hill and we were told to go to Finsbury Park as trains would be starting from there via Kings X. Eventually I reached Hornsey station where our very late broken down train was 'rebooted' and just as it started working again the driver announced it would now be going non-stop to Hertford. This is the reason so many people were on the platform having not intended to go there. Fortunately another train arrived within 10 minutes but the total journey time from leaving Finsbury Park was over an hour and half. Apparently this has been going on for weeks with numerous unexplained cancellations. It is almost as if Govia want to get out of running the line. Prior to the change in timetable the line was pretty good. I suspect staff are demoralised and taking it out on their management. Be good to hear their side of the story as all we can do is stand and wait and wait and wait...

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Last chance for Govia? 09 Aug 2018 09:37 #4017

I too was on the train at Harringay last Friday. The train left Moorgate late and was full to capacity with people standing in all aisles. We waited 5 minutes at Harringay while the driver fixed a problem with the power system. He then announced he had been told to go directly to Hertford, so the train emptied onto the platform as you can see in the picture. I'll acknowledge that this type of action can be justified if a disadvantage to some means benefits to others because their trains can keep to schedule.

But what happened next is important. By chance, my partner was on the following train. It was half full at Finsbury Park and was not scheduled to stop at Harringay or Hornsey. So a few minutes after the photo it sailed through Harringay without picking anyone up. The logic of this defies me as an extra stop at Harringay would hardly inconvenience anyone. Perhaps with the slow train out of the way the 'fast' train could make up time and arrive on schedule? But if instead of counting the number of trains arriving on time you consider the number of passengers arriving anywhere close to the scheduled time, Great Northern's action disadvantaged a great number of people.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Andrew Stedman

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Last chance for Govia? 09 Aug 2018 11:40 #4018

It would be good to be shot of Grayling and the whole sorry Thatcherite franchising system which has clearly failed. Allegedly, even Govia’s empire doesn’t make a profit out of its rail business.
But pending the revolution, what can be done about the gritty business of day-to-day management of the local service? Great Northern has manifestly never solved the driver-supply problem which it claims it inherited from its dreadful predecessor. It has obviously never developed a spirit of public service and high morale. How otherwise can frequent staff shortages be explained? It would indeed be helpful to hear from someone who has experienced working for the company.
The worn-out rolling stock and the shortcomings of Network Rail cannot make management any easier. If ever this line does get the promised new stock, is it imaginable that GN would be capable of making it run smoothly and to timetable?

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Last chance for Govia? 09 Aug 2018 18:15 #4019

When you have a focus on the maximum extraction of cash from an organisation then other stakeholders, such as employees and customers, tend to suffer relatively.

Good management would focus on motivating drivers – and making sure there was an adequate supply. Watching driver interaction with eg Anita at Platform 1 and frequent willingness to wait briefly for someone racing down the stairs suggests they are a decent lot.

I really can’t imagine that managing a monopoly service back and forward between two fixed end points to a timetable and to everyone’s satisfaction, while making the odd and occasionally necessary in-flight fine-tuning adjustment to keep passengers moving, is beyond the ability of mankind.

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Last chance for Govia? 09 Aug 2018 21:49 #4020

Thanks for the link to that speech: it is interesting that the Minister, in his response, was receptive to potentially making part of the GN franchise a part of TfL overground instead. I am in the fortunate position of being able to do a lot of my work from home, and so with an annual season ticket at £40 short of £2,000 now, I have cancelled mine and am now working 2 days (at least) from home, using pay as you go when I venture into zone 1. One thing I have now realised is that travelling on a mainline train from Palmers Green is £2 extra per day compared with going from a zone 4 underground station.

Passenger numbers are falling , so on the one hand my cancellation is another tiny reduction in TfL income, but with the regular (daily?) delays on Great Northern (14 minutes yesterday, 10 minutes today) it is much less hassle.

By accident I happened to catch some of the Select Committee investigation into the calamity of the 20th May timetable changes, and it seemed clear that much of the trouble is down to National Rail issues: a lack of electrification of some lines in other parts of the country, and short notice of the timetable details. So whilst I share the disgust of Govia's lack of drivers and poor management of problems such as that so vividly illustrated by the picture of Harringey, I do not pine for the days of nationalisation and "big government" running things. Instead, there needs to be a recognition that the franchise system has indeed failed to bring competition to the rail industry that compares to the success of privatisation of other sectors such as The Post Office running telephones, British Steel, British Leyland and British Airways, all of which required public subsidy and provided a poorer service.

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Last chance for Govia? 10 Aug 2018 09:18 #4021

Just to show there is nothing new under the sun I am attaching a poster from a campaign back in 1999 when Thameslink were having a load of problems running a proper service. This was on the line from West Hampstead to Luton or into town.

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