Text of letter to Joanne McCartney
Joanne McCartney AM
The Queen's Walk
London SE1 2AA
30 August 2019
Thank you for your letter dated 19°' August 2019.
I am sorry that the performance on our Great Northern service has not been to the standard we expect and that our passengers deserve, and for the disruption it has caused to your constituents. We recognise that the level of cancellations related to driver unavailability has been too high with a combination of training requirements on the class 717 fleet, a high annual leave period and lower than anticipated demand for overtime affecting this on some days.
We are focusing on this issue every day to help ensure all our services run as planned and is one of my top priorities since taking over as Managing Director on 1st July. Actions we have recently taken include pausing less pressing training and we have postponed any nonessential activities for drivers to boost the number of drivers available for rota duties. We are also working as quickly as possible to pass out additional trainee divers, and to complete conversion training on the Class 717 fleet and have now we've conpleted training of 158 out of the 169 Metro drivers, so we are nearly at full capacity. These measures have delivered a positive impact already with traincrew cancellations almost halving over the last seven weeks.
This means you and your constituents should see an improvement in your service, though regrettably some cancellations may still arise and in such circumstances, we will provide passengers with as much notice as possible of this so that they can plan ahead and catch a different service.
We are also continuing with the introduction of the new 717 fleet and we now have over two thirds of the new fleet in service, with the expectation that all the new 717s will be in service by the end of October.
The last month has been a challenging period for the service with a number of major infrastructure issues affecting performance (overhead lines coming down, power supply being hit and points and signal failures occurring). However, please be assured that there is a great deal of focus by our operations teams on reliability and punctuality with a view to restoring confidence in the service.
Managing Director, Thameslink & Great Northern Railways