A report into the Southern rail mess has finally been released after being submitted to Chris Grayling around seven months ago. Although focused on Southern Rail it does cover issues with Southeastern including transfer of additional trains.
One big bit of information for Southeastern commuters is that report author Chris Gibb recommends to the Department for Transport that 20 Southern trains be transferred to Southeastern, and puts stabling space cost for extra stock at just £2 million, as this screenshot from page 7 of the report shows:
Once again it looks like Southeastern have attempted to obtain more stock (on 21st Dec last year) but the DfT have not yet approved. And that’s why having the DfT and Chris Grayling making decisions instead of TfL is disastrous for transport in south east London.
The private operator, in this case Southeastern, works to guidelines from those above – and its currently DfT who set most fare increases and the parameters, stock levels and much more based upon agreements they make with private operators.
What has the DfT given the area? The area has higher fares than most of London as SE Metro isn’t on the TfL fare scale, less station staffing, no new stock for years, no train refurbishments and much more. All down to the DfT.
I wrote in January how Chris Grayling’s understudy Paul Maynard had formally rejected an earlier plan to transfer surplus Thameslink trains to Southeastern to enable more carriages in rush hour.
Then came the second plan costed at just £2 million pounds seen in the Gibb report. Seven months on and still no approval by Grayling or the DfT. It’s penny change when looking at a scheme like Crossrail at £15 billion and Thameslink at £6.5 billion.
Does Grayling want to hide this issue from the public? His reputation for cuts and resisting investment at play again? Even when minimal sums will lead to improvements impacting on hundreds of thousands of people a day yet that takes a back seat to cuts?
His previous role as Justice Secretary is widely seen as disastrous as he cut prison officer numbers leading to widespread unrest now needing many millions to rectify.
The report also revealed plans to transfer a Southern route to Transport for London as well as the Great Northern route. Given Grayling’s petty and frankly idiotic decision to block transfer of Southeastern Metro routes to TfL on party political grounds then it’s likely he is uncomfortable with that idea, regardless of what’s best for passengers.
Other parts of the report seem to reveal a shambolic lack of planning with many issuess needing to be decided “urgently” according to the report author. The location of stabling new Thameslink trains is one. Incredibly this isn’t sorted despite trains being delivered and the full program due to start next year. The author continuously states that “this responsibility rests with the DfT’s Thameslink Programme Board”.
As it states:
“All of the above issues need to be finalised before the driver recruitment plans can be
commenced, as the driver recruitment strategy must be decided around the stabling locations of the trains, and driver depot facilities, including parking, must be included in the scheme implementation”
And today more news is out that Chris Grayling is facing a judicial review after not producing a report for 14 months.
By the way, the consultation on the future of South Eastern services is closing tomorrow. Teresa May has kept Chris Grayling in post post-election so a TfL transfer is unlikely but still worth calling for it, as well as all these issues:
- First-to-last train staffing at stations to man barriers and improve safety, especially at night.
- Lower fares upon joining the TfL fare scale. Other private operators are on it such as Southern, c2c and Great Western.
- Longer ticket office hours
- Lewisham station and track upgrade work
- Upgrade work at places such as Woolwich Dockyard for 12-car services
- Longer trains and more capacity
- More stabling space for trains
- Integration with house building to provide additional income and better facilities