Great Northern Weekend Cancellations

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MikeWM

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Every Saturday and Sunday for months now a handful (or more) of GN trains are being cancelled due to driver shortages. Tonight the last 'fast' to Cambridge fell victim. They held the preceding 'all'-shacks (presumably as the one an hour before was also cancelled due to no driver) which at least still offered a connection to the (therefore delayed) bus replacement for the last train to Kings Lynn, but this was still an almost (though not quite!) 30-minute delay.

Any reason why they are having so many issues? FCC certainly had their share of problems, but I don't remember anything like this happening on such a regular basis.
 
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bramling

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Every Saturday and Sunday for months now a handful (or more) of GN trains are being cancelled due to driver shortages. Tonight the last 'fast' to Cambridge fell victim. They held the preceding 'all'-shacks (presumably as the one an hour before was also cancelled due to no driver) which at least still offered a connection to the (therefore delayed) bus replacement for the last train to Kings Lynn, but this was still an almost (though not quite!) 30-minute delay.

Any reason why they are having so many issues? FCC certainly had their share of problems, but I don't remember anything like this happening on such a regular basis.

I wouldn't say this is anything particularly new - it used to happen under WAGN and FCC.

I basically gave up travelling home first thing on Sunday morning years ago, as it was so common to get on the train at King's Cross, and see departure time come and go with not a word until the dispatch staff start wondering why the doors aren't closing when they give CD - then find there's no driver on board, on some days this happened on two or even three consecutive departures.

Things seem to have got worse under GTR though.
 

SPADTrap

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I wouldn't say this is anything particularly new - it used to happen under WAGN and FCC.

I basically gave up travelling home first thing on Sunday morning years ago, as it was so common to get on the train at King's Cross, and see departure time come and go with not a word until the dispatch staff start wondering why the doors aren't closing when they give CD - then find there's no driver on board, on some days this happened on two or even three consecutive departures.

Things seem to have got worse under GTR though.

You mean the dispatchers don't always check there is a driver before pressing out? <D :D
 

MikeWM

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I wouldn't say this is anything particularly new - it used to happen under WAGN and FCC.

I don't remember enough about my journeys with WAGN to fairly comment. But I don't remember cancellations every week - seemingly without fail - with FCC.

I basically gave up travelling home first thing on Sunday morning years ago,

Maybe that's the difference - I don't tend to travel first thing in the morning, far more likely to be last thing at night.

In any event, even with their massively reduced timetable this weekend, GN still managed to have some driver-shortage cancellations on Sunday (!).

Monday had a handful too, including the last Cambridge stopper off KGX at 0005 (which seems to have mysteriously disappeared altogether from RealTrainTimes, though OpenTrainTimes still has it listed as cancelled). Doesn't seem like the following train added stops at those stations, so hopefully no-one at Meldreth/Shepreth/Foxton needed to get home late last night.
 

Clip

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I don't remember enough about my journeys with WAGN to fairly comment. But I don't remember cancellations every week - seemingly without fail - with FCC.

.

I dont remember many being cancelled with WAGN either due to driver shortage and I worked at the cross for a few years including many late & night shifts.

And the permanent night shift guy for WAGN at the time always made sure the driver was in the cab before he pressed CD let alone RA so im unsure what that poster was on about.
 

bramling

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I don't remember enough about my journeys with WAGN to fairly comment. But I don't remember cancellations every week - seemingly without fail - with FCC.



Maybe that's the difference - I don't tend to travel first thing in the morning, far more likely to be last thing at night.

In any event, even with their massively reduced timetable this weekend, GN still managed to have some driver-shortage cancellations on Sunday (!).

Monday had a handful too, including the last Cambridge stopper off KGX at 0005 (which seems to have mysteriously disappeared altogether from RealTrainTimes, though OpenTrainTimes still has it listed as cancelled). Doesn't seem like the following train added stops at those stations, so hopefully no-one at Meldreth/Shepreth/Foxton needed to get home late last night.

WAGN were terrible under Prism. I remember peak-time and weekend cancellations due to no driver were very common. Things improved massively when National Express took over.

But certainly under FCC weekend early-morning travel was a lottery, so much so that I gave up and use the car instead. Early morning is always susceptible as if a driver doesn't turn up and there are no suitable spares available there's little or no time to juggle, and you can hardly arrange for someone to cover by phoning them at 0500 in the morning! GTR now seem to be managing cancellations right through the day at weekends now though.

Weekend cover tends to be bad everywhere though. Firstly people get pulled off weekend duties (especially Saturday where it falls at the end of the Sunday to Saturday week) in order to cover weekday duties which are regarded as more important. Secondly reality is many people, despite having signed up to a shiftwork role, don't really want to work weekends, especially Saturdays, and will do whatever they can to avoid them. Rostering agreements tend to recognise this by specifying that a minimum number of people will be rostered to work at weekends. The combination of rough turns and marginal cover makes it more tempting for people to go sick leading to a vicious circle. Add in a Sunday that's outside the working week at some places and no surprise weekend cancellations can be common.
 
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jon0844

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GTR seem to have a lot of trains delayed in the week due to a shortage of crew, or so the screens say, but many aren't actually cancelled - just late.

Is this just bad planning of staff? Are they not given sufficient time to get to their train, or are breaks not managed properly?
 

bramling

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GTR seem to have a lot of trains delayed in the week due to a shortage of crew, or so the screens say, but many aren't actually cancelled - just late.

Is this just bad planning of staff? Are they not given sufficient time to get to their train, or are breaks not managed properly?

Could be any number of reasons, but one possibility is duties are uncovered and the hours of available spares don't match up, or a spare is covering bits of duties but the work or PNB times overlap slightly. In either case a delay is obviously preferable to an outright cancellation. Alternatively someone booking on late and noone else available to start the duty (also is it the best decision to commit your last spare to a Peterborough and back just because someone's running 15 mins late due to being stuck in a traffic jam?). Goodwill between drivers and managers and between drivers and company gives more options for some of these constraints to be worked around - unfortunately I get the impression goodwill and GTR don't really go together at the moment.

The other possibility is turnrounds and PNBs are too tight to absorb delays.
 
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Phil.

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I've had LM guards shut the doors and give two buzzes, and only then notice the absence of a driver.

I did think for a moment then realised I'd read CD as RA. I would have thought that common sense (forgetting that common sense isn't a quantifiable measurement) would have got "The Management" telling dispatch staff to check with the driver before going through the motions of dispatching a train.
 

bramling

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I dont remember many being cancelled with WAGN either due to driver shortage and I worked at the cross for a few years including many late & night shifts.

And the permanent night shift guy for WAGN at the time always made sure the driver was in the cab before he pressed CD let alone RA so im unsure what that poster was on about.

Maybe I was unlucky, but the 0720 Letchworth-KX was during the late 1990s cancelled I'd estimate probably once a week, sometimes it was cancelled for a whole week at a time - almost always due to no driver.

The Sunday morning situation to which I refer was rather more recent (late 2000s), but I can assure you I experienced it several times. The stock for the first down train would be brought in ECS and left open. Departure time would come and go, then platform staff could be heard saying "why isn't he closing the doors?". Some time later an announcement would be heard saying the service is now cancelled due to no driver. On one occasion this happened on three consecutive departures. I gave up after that as one could do without that sort of messing around after having been at work all night for 12 hours. Another reason to avoid these services was that after 24-hour-drinking was introduced the first couple of down services became vomit transporters.
 

FordFocus

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I think the DfT have recognised there was a driver shortage on handover of the franchise to GTR. It was a classic First Group tactic of relying on rest day working to avoid recruitment. Now no one wants to work their days off at the weekend, possibly because GTR are destroying morale across the sub brands.
 

Class 170101

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The problem is, I doubt its likely to get better any time soon

Rail Technology Magazine

Aslef banned from striking over DOO by High Court injunction

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) successfully obtained an injunction today banning Aslef members from further strikes over the proposed introduction of driver-operated only (DOO) trains.

GTR sought the injunction on the grounds that Aslef couldn’t lawfully ballot its members because it had previously induced them not to drive trains.

Despite GTR’s efforts to obtain the injunction, 84.4% of Aslef members have voted in favour of strikes.

A GTR spokesperson said the injunction would “come as a great relief” to passengers.

The company added that it urged both Aslef and RMT, which is also leading conductor strikes over the issue, to “come back to the negotiating table” in the dispute.

“We have been seeking proper negotiations on the various disputes for six months, and both Aslef and RMT have refused to engage in any sort of meaningful dialogue,” the GTR spokesperson said. “Rather than continue these disputes, let’s instead sit down and talk about this properly. That is what every passenger would want.”

GTR recently said there had been a “remarkable” rate of conductor absences due to sickness since the strikes began, which have led to ongoing cancellations.

Resorting to the courts to manage a dispute is hardly like to make it easy to resolve any industrial issues and therefore unless there is a full establishment of train crew it is likely to equal a need for rest days to be worked and as these aren't compulsory cancellations will remain for the foreseeable future.
 

Hadders

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More cancellations today. In 20 years travelling on this line I can't say I remember cancellations like these.

I'm currently at Kings Cross and the following cancellations are on the boards:
1952 Cambridge
2014 Cambridge and Kings Lynn
2144 Cambridge

The only Cambridge trains showing are the 2005 and 2105 all stations. Suspect these will be four coaches as well .

Very poor.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
2205 Cambridge service now showing as cancelled.

At least it looks as though the 2005 will be 8 carriages as they've just announced that passengers for Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton need to change at Royston for a bus.
 
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MikeWM

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It seems to be getting worse each week :(

Tonight the last Cambridge to Kings Cross is cancelled - replaced by a bus, with current estimated arrival time at KGX of 0319 (!) (as opposed to 0041 on the train).

Lots of cancellations to.from Peterborough too.
 

bb21

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This must be getting to a point where the DFT will get involved surely?

They already have, by raising their Schedule 7.1 Cancellation Benchmark and allowing them an easier ride. ;)

One would almost be tempted to suggest that the DfT were aiming to undermine the unions. :lol:
 

Skimble19

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Apparently there was at least 60-70 cancellations across GN today (well, yesterday now!), with various other services delayed or altered, nearly all due to a "shortage of drivers", or probably more accurately, drivers not wanting overtime and there not being enough to cover all the shifts..
 

the sniper

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This must be getting to a point where the DFT will get involved surely?

This is the DfT's war. Why would they punish GTR for their loyalty to the cause?

A TOC going to war with its workforce is/was only ever going to cast a long shadow over a franchise. I don't know a TOC in the country that doesn't rely on the goodwill of its workforce to run a normal service, to a greater or lesser extent.
 

Robertj21a

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. I don't know a TOC in the country that doesn't rely on the goodwill of its workforce to run a normal service, to a greater or lesser extent.


Which, on balance, is how it should be.

If we expect services to be run by commercial operators then it follows that they will need to use the most efficient methods to survive. Fortunately, the workforce in most companies has long recognised that good cooperation between staff and management is essential - for both parties.
 

Hadders

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Great Northern has been DOO since British Rail days so isn't anything to do with the current disputes on the Southern and Gatex parts of GTR's empire, unless GN staff are acting out of sympathy.

The only thing that's changed on the GN side is that GTr took over from FCC. GN has always seemed to be a tightly run operation but the present operator is doing their best to ruin it.
 

jon0844

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It's unreal and now means that I can't see myself wanting to use GN for leisure purposes until this is sorted, as you simply don't know when you'll get home - or that you'll even be able to start your journey on time.

Even if you can see all the cancellations for the whole day in the morning and create your own revised timetable, it's mad that you have to a) do this and b) factor in gaps of an hour or more between trains, with the additional concern of how crowded the trains may be.

It's far easier to stay at home.

You only need to stand on any platform to see how the public react when Atos Anne is apologising for yet another delay or cancellation due to a shortage of train crew to know that GN's reputation is being slowly destroyed over this.
 

petersi

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Plus the normal over crowding on Saturday mornings at station south of welwyn garden city.
It not a attractive travel propersition
 

the sniper

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Great Northern has been DOO since British Rail days so isn't anything to do with the current disputes on the Southern and Gatex parts of GTR's empire, unless GN staff are acting out of sympathy.

GTR have enjoyed giving ASLEF a kicking, which ASLEF members employed by GTR will obviously be non too impressed with. It's not sympathy, it's treating GTR with the contempt they deserve.
 

Hadders

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It's unreal and now means that I can't see myself wanting to use GN for leisure purposes until this is sorted, as you simply don't know when you'll get home - or that you'll even be able to start your journey on time.

Even if you can see all the cancellations for the whole day in the morning and create your own revised timetable, it's mad that you have to a) do this and b) factor in gaps of an hour or more between trains, with the additional concern of how crowded the trains may be.

It's far easier to stay at home.

You only need to stand on any platform to see how the public react when Atos Anne is apologising for yet another delay or cancellation due to a shortage of train crew to know that GN's reputation is being slowly destroyed over this.

Absolutely spot on. Reliability is the key thing and frequent short notice cancellations do nothing to enhance the reputation of the railway.

Good work has been done for years in encouraging people to use the trains. I know this is true across the whole country but 20 years ago a 4 car train on almost any GN service was more than sufficient. Now many services are 8 or 12 car and wedged! All this good work will be ruined if people can't rely on the service.
 

Hadders

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Looks like a large number of cancellations on GN again today and they are saying that there will be 'cancellations, alterations and extended gaps' tomorrow from 1600 until end of service.

Total shambles.
 

jon0844

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Suffice to say, I am not intending to travel on GN at weekends unless I absolutely have to, and will check 50 different sites to double check a train is scheduled to run!

Okay, maybe not 50.

51.
 

Skimble19

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This afternoon / evening is going to be a total mess. The service on the loop looks like it will be so minimal that some of the Cambridge stoppers have had to be diverted from welwyn to go round the loop calling at stations along there instead..
 
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