Gatwick Express Industrial Relations

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spangles

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http://www.crawleynews.co.uk/Gatwic...k-passengers/story-29089301-detail/story.html

The first Gatwick Express service to use brand new 12-carriage trains was run with no passengers onboard

A GATWICK Express driver refused to pick up passengers on an early morning service on Saturday in a row over the introduction of longer trains with no conductors.

A fleet of 27 new 12-carriage Gatwick Express trains are due to be formally introduced on Monday and a soft launch was held on Saturday.

But the driver of the 5.30am service from London Victoria to Gatwick Airport - the very first service using the new trains - made the journey with no passengers onboard after refusing to open the doors and pick anyone up. The return journey was also empty.

While Gatwick Express trains have been operated without a conductor for some time, drivers' union ASLEF is opposed to the introduction of longer trains without conductors.

This is because, since agreeing to drivers operating trains without conductors, the union changed its policy to oppose any extension of this, as it does not feel that having no conductors is a safe way to operate trains.

Its main gripe is that it says the union hasn't been consulted on the plans.

The driver on Saturday initially refused to drive the new 12-carriage train at all so the service had to be cancelled.

Around 30 passengers are understood to have had to get the 5.45am service instead but the driver of the 5.30am train then operated the service empty, driving the brand new train to Gatwick and back on his own.
 
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Domh245

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That is a bit of an omission on GTR's behalf! Are GatEx drivers still their own pool, or are they part of a common pool with Southern drivers, in which case, I guess it is a lack of specific safety case for the 387/2s?
 

IKB

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They have dedicated GatEx drivers, but AFAIK, Link 1 at Selhurst (and Victoria?) also cover GatEx turns.

ASLEF is opposed to 12-car DOO operation (the current limit is 10 carriages).
 
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Deepgreen

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How about a 'Sun' headline - "Red driver sees red over red train!!"

Let's await further detail instead of the usual speculation.
 
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ainsworth74

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Well I rather think the driver is being hung out to dry here! If he's following the legitimate instructions of his Union then the issue is less 'he refused to open the doors' and more 'the Union and TOC couldn't reach an agreement and the poor sod in the cab is caught in the middle!'.
 

ComUtoR

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ASLEF is opposed to 12-car DOO operation (the current limit is 10 carriages).

Is the 10-Car limit specific to Gatwick Express ? I ask because we have 12 car DOO; as agreed by ASLEF.
 

IKB

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Is the 10-Car limit specific to Gatwick Express ? I ask because we have 12 car DOO; as agreed by ASLEF.

Not sure about elsewhere (e.g. Thameslink), but the current agreement for Southern/GatEx is max 10 coaches DOO.
 

Tim R-T-C

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Such a London style report - passengers forced to catch a train 15 minutes later, oh the humanity!

On a serious note - if they have a safety case, shouldn't they have simply refused to run the train?
 

Domh245

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I thought the first 387/2 in service was a london victoria to gatwick at around 18:30?

That was the first GatEx service using the 387s (the first 387/2 in service was with Thameslink) but this is the first 12 car run (and full day of service I think)

On a serious note - if they have a safety case, shouldn't they have simply refused to run the train?

The train itself is fine, it is just that the union (and hence drivers) won't agree to carry out door duties if the train is more than 10 coaches long. I would have guessed that rather than cancelling the train, GTR thought that running it without passengers would be a way of avoiding cancellation fees (possibly?)
 

Bishopstone

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So, in the short term GTR can either:

i) Restrict GatEx diagrams to 2x387, or
ii) Retain the 442s for longer than anticipated.

I guess, as 442s aren't part of the cascade plans, it would be possible to agree a lease extension if necessary? A nice, unexpected earner for the LeaseCo.

But I suspect GTR will just run GatEx as 2x387 maximum until a resolution is reached (if ever), and pretend to customers that was the plan all along.
 

radamfi

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Deepgreen

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It will be interesting to know what discussions were had with ASLEF (if any) about the 378/2s in 12 car formations on Gatex, or did GTR simply think they could go ahead anyway? Was it an oversight or a ploy to 'test the water'?

I also wonder why the difference in agreements between Thameslink and Southern/Gatex in terms of DOO on 12 car formations (especially given that TL arguably has a series of more difficult stations in the core for DOO to be applied).
 

aformeruser

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Well I rather think the driver is being hung out to dry here! If he's following the legitimate instructions of his Union then the issue is less 'he refused to open the doors' and more 'the Union and TOC couldn't reach an agreement and the poor sod in the cab is caught in the middle!'.

If the Union said to do that then they were being stupid and childish. Saying the driver should refuse to take the service is one thing - telling them to take out the train but to refuse to open the doors to make a point doesn't help anyone.
 

LowLevel

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For those saying unilateral action should see the driver sacked blah blah blah, as a guard I would like to issue the reminder that such action (drivers sitting in their trains at platforms refusing to drive them without a guard) saw the suspension and subsequent removal of driver only operation on the Northampton lines out of Euston.

Therefore on behalf of my colleagues in the South I applaud wholeheartedly.
 

Jimini

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Here's the full Times article (link requires a login):

Gatwick Express drivers’ strike threat over longer trains

Train drivers on the Gatwick Express are threatening to take industrial action after the operator introduced longer trains that will not have conductors.

A fleet of 27 trains are formally due to go into operation on the airport line from next week. However, a soft launch on Saturday descended into farce when the 05.30 from Victoria left with the driver refusing to pick up passengers. The return journey was also empty.

The Bombardier Electrostars are longer than the existing stock and Govia Thameslink is planning to run them without conductors.

Aslef, the drivers’ union said that Govia did not consult it over the introduction of the trains and is now balloting its members over industrial action.

The existing ten-carriage trains are being replaced by trains with 12 carriages. Govia said that the new £145 million rolling stock, built in Derby, would offer a passengers a more comfortable travelling environment.

The company said that 12-car driver-only trains are already running on its network but with Thameslink rather than Gatwick Express branding.

Aslef said in a statement: “As a result of a threat to impose 12 car driver-only operated passenger services working, without agreement, from April 9 on Gatwick Express, we are to ballot drivers on Southern [trains], and Gatwick Express, for industrial action.”
 

aformeruser

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The train itself is fine, it is just that the union (and hence drivers) won't agree to carry out door duties if the train is more than 10 coaches long. I would have guessed that rather than cancelling the train, GTR thought that running it without passengers would be a way of avoiding cancellation fees (possibly?)

No Govia would have had to pay the operating costs and the cancellation penalty. I'm sure it was a union instructed protest otherwise the rear unit could just have been detached and the service could have operated. 30 passengers don't need 12 carriages!
 

Deepgreen

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For those saying unilateral action should see the driver sacked blah blah blah, as a guard I would like to issue the reminder that such action (drivers sitting in their trains at platforms refusing to drive them without a guard) saw the suspension and subsequent removal of driver only operation on the Northampton lines out of Euston.

Therefore on behalf of my colleagues in the South I applaud wholeheartedly.

While not claiming to know the details, was it not the point that a single driver taking it upon himself not to work DOO in passenger service is not the same as him following an official union instruction? I assume the Northampton example was the latter (as may the GatEx one)?
 
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TH172341

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Poor planning by Govia if this is all true - they should've sorted out the approval for 12 cars beforehand with the drivers. I don't see why the GatEx operations are doing away with the guards - offer a port of call for any questions for passengers and always good to have staff presence.
 

TEW

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No Govia would have had to pay the operating costs and the cancellation penalty. I'm sure it was a union instructed protest otherwise the rear unit could just have been detached and the service could have operated. 30 passengers don't need 12 carriages!

So the question must surely be, why was the service formed of 12 carriages in the first place? It appears that it was only booked to work that one round trip to Gatwick Airport before going back to Stewarts Lane, and I'm sure 8 carriages would have been enough. GTR must have known that there is no union agreement for Gatwick Express drivers to driver 12-car DOO trains, and could surely have foreseen issues.
 

aformeruser

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Poor planning by Govia if this is all true - they should've sorted out the approval for 12 cars beforehand with the drivers. I don't see why the GatEx operations are doing away with the guards - offer a port of call for any questions for passengers and always good to have staff presence.

Have they don't away with on-board staff altogether or just qualified guards? I would have thought an Airport service with lots of foreign passengers is one where on board staff could be very useful.
 

TEW

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Gatwick Express services have not had any onboard staff for a while now. The last staff were the trolley staff and they were removed last year.
 

spangles

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I think the Gatwick Express on the 442s was always DOO, so they are not really doing away with guards...they never had them in the first place.
 
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