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the Increasingly Frustrating Thameslink

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Tetchytyke

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Unless they start tinkering with stopping patterns for the Hertford service (all trains missing out Hornsey and Harringay) then this situation will continue

I don't think the future of those stations has quite been decided, London Reconnections talked about it last year with no consensus.

I expect that off-peak the Hertford Loop will not be fully segregated, but that during the peaks (when the real test will come) it will be.
 
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21C101

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You were unlucky there. The power problems were much earlier, around 8pm, and only a couple of trains were affected. If you look carefully at Smithfield sidings, you might still see the remains of a pantograph and the dent in the girder near the roof.

Not again.


Nice though it would be for us Albanistas, all that does is reshuffle the pack. Every train arriving West Hampstead / St Pancras in the morning peak is wedged. So to avoid other trains absorbing more passengers, a St Albans fast starter would have to be wedged too.

In a sensible world EMT would run 10 car trains not some as 4 car and stop them at St Albans.
 

Bald Rick

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In a sensible world EMT would run 10 car trains not some as 4 car and stop them at St Albans.

Again, good for us Albanistas - we could stand in intercity ambience, but the trains would be rather expensively carting fresh air up to Derby / Nottingham / Sheffield, and all those already on board would have an extra 5 mins journey time.
 

21C101

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Less drivers transferred over from FCC to GTR than was expected, there's been a much higher than normal rate of sickness and drivers are doing less than expected (I should add, that's in no way blaming drivers). Recruitment of drivers is something already happening.

So no cutbacks, no lack of recruitment, no cock ups.

Several years ago FCC were very short of drivers and it caused no problem until Firstgroup introduced a corporate zero per cent pay rise policy at which point the drivers went off rest day working and overtime and two months of chaos with emergency timetables ensued.

Hence my cynicism.

PS if drivers didnt transfer where did they go?
 

asylumxl

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Several years ago FCC were very short of drivers and it caused no problem until Firstgroup introduced a corporate zero per cent pay rise policy at which point the drivers went off rest day working and overtime and two months of chaos with emergency timetables ensued.


Hence my cynicism.


PS if drivers didnt transfer where did they go?



I commented about this earlier in the thread.

While it was initially an absolute disaster, I feel FCC handled it well. An emergency timetable was implemented, with all trains stopping at all stations and every train 8 carriages.

I actually found it more enjoyable to travel. As all trains had the same stopping pattern the load was spread more evenly and there were no 4 carriage trains.
 

Abpj17

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Rick - I had a table seat, the language of those left behind or sardined was rather more colourful than unlucky!

Still delays all over the place (but consistent delays so not too bad - especially outside rush hour), same reasons as last night given - drivers and overhead. But *drumroll* first class is declassified!
 

W230

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Too few drivers because of cutbacks/lack of recruitment, drivers going sick because of work issues, or just good old-fashioned cock-ups ?
No idea exactly, but like I said further up thread there are masses of uncovered jobs at the moment. I've been contacted two days before my start time and asked to go in early for my job today as a favour, which I don't mind doing to help out. But in reality this should help to show just how short we really are and just means another uncovered job elsewhere...
 

petersi

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No idea exactly, but like I said further up thread there are masses of uncovered jobs at the moment. I've been contacted two days before my start time and asked to go in early for my job today as a favour, which I don't mind doing to help out. But in reality this should help to show just how short we really are and just means another uncovered job elsewhere...


Are there drivers in training as not advertising for drivers on web site
http://www.gtrailway.com/working-for-us/latest-vacancies/
One of the vacancies looks very difficult to fill
How many drivers are required to cover for training for thameslink and new signalling on great northern.
 
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Aictos

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Branling I meant the Inners not the Outer Stoppers so do the all stations services go any faster then 75mph? Guess most they reach is 50mph before they have to stop at next station.
 

talltim

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Jokes aside you can't compare buying a car to buying a train! :lol: for a start a train has to please ALL the people who use it. Louder inside? Third world problems? :P

Why can't you? They are alternative forms of transport. Agreed that seat comfort is a subjective thing, but things like 1st class being exactly the same excepting an bit of paper isn't
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Less drivers transferred over from FCC to GTR than was expected,

So no cutbacks, no lack of recruitment, no cock ups.

How is that not a cock-up?
 

21C101

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Well, this is the departure board at Blackfriars tonight. #fail

1622, 1652, 1656 to Bedford all cancelled.
 
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21C101

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But their drivers might have.

Although as it turns out, these cancellations are down to a lack of drivers.

I guessed that from the warning notices this morning that warned of lots of cancellations due to lack of drivers.

Cancelling both the 1652 and 1656 is not going to make them very popular to say the least.
 

David Sinnett

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At least Go Via (somewhere other than) Thameslink have an apology on their website. Long time to get some things fixed though.
 

21C101

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At least Go Via (somewhere other than) Thameslink have an apology on their website. Long time to get some things fixed though.

I fear that it will be a while before the fast Bedfords run again. Last time this happened we had two months of hell. Pity those who get on at Harpenden and Radlett AM and St Pancras PM.
 

user15681

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A full statement from Charles Horton.

http://www.thameslinkrailway.com/about-us/performance/yourservice

Thameslink said:
Your recent service

Service issues

We would like to apologise for service levels, in particular on Thameslink. We appreciate that recent weeks have been a difficult and sometimes frustrating time for many of our passengers and we are sorry if you have been personally affected by delayed and cancelled services.

When we took over the franchise in September we knew that punctuality and reliability on the Thameslink route in particular had been declining for the past three years. We immediately put plans in place to address the underlying issues but knew that the changes we are making will take time to deliver their full results.

We have also been affected a number of incidents and delays. Some have been outside our control – for example there were seven fatalities on Thameslink in the first three weeks – but around 23% of delays can be attributed to Thameslink and Great Northern and we have to do better.

Driver shortages

Regrettably, despite our best efforts, some services have been cancelled because we have not had enough drivers for all our rail services, especially given the essential training we are undertaking at the moment to deliver Thameslink programme works.

We inherited this issue when we took over the franchise in September and we are determined to address it. We have made a public commitment to recruit enough drivers to substantially reduce our reliance on drivers working overtime. Right now we have 62 in training who will be finishing their courses between now and August and we are recruiting another 89. We are recruiting extra trainers so we can ramp up the number of courses. Training a driver takes more than a year however, so there is no quick fix to this issue.

In the meantime, while the extra drivers are in training, we can normally cover driver shifts through drivers volunteering to work overtime but with the festive period upon us, this has not always been possible.

As mentioned previously on Thameslink, the situation is exacerbated by the need for essential training for the new routes our drivers will be taking into and around London Bridge plus the conversion course for driving our new trains. We have had 900 training days on Thameslink in just three months.

We have a resilience plan for the festive period, suspending all non-essential driver release and double-manning our driver resource management team, and we are constantly reviewing the drivers we have available and assigning them to services in such a way as to minimise the disruption caused. Driver-related cancellations will recede reduce in January.

Punctuality, reliability and short trains

Part of the issue is train reliability. On Thameslink, the trains are being worked very hard at the moment while others are taken out of service for heavy overhaul and, in some cases, accessibility improvements, which is a legal requirement. This overhaul programme will pass but in the meantime it has affected reliability and also led to shorter trains. In response, we aim to increase the size of the fleet with three extra trains as soon as they become available, in the New Year. We also have new trains coming in now on Bedford to Brighton services plus, in another 18 months, even newer trains through the Thameslink Programme which are fixed in length at a minimum of eight carriages.

Frustratingly, where things have gone wrong with issues within our control, it has frequently been where it causes the most disruption to our services and our passengers – for example in the heart of London. On some occasions it has taken us too long to recover the service and we are putting in place processes with Network Rail so we can do better.

However, most delays (around 66% across our network) are attributable to problems with signalling, power and track systems (the railway infrastructure). To tackle infrastructure issues such as these, we have formed an alliance with Network Rail to scope out projects to tackle problem areas.

For example, speed restrictions north of Bedford on the Midland Mainline means that some East Midlands Trains services are arriving late onto the tracks we share and causing delay to our trains. Network Rail expects to have removed these by the middle of 2015.

On Great Northern, reliability has actually been better year on year thanks to the completion of a year’s worth of infrastructure work in just three months but recent overrunning engineering work on three consecutive Mondays and signal failures at places like Alexandra Palace have taken their toll.

Information

At times of disruption we appreciate information is crucial. In response we have introduced a twitter account providing service updates, a new ‘On Track’ app, and a free travel alert system and are upgrading our website. There are plans to improve real-time information, including on-train systems and provide door-to-door journey information on our app. We have just started a trial whereby all our frontline staff will be issued with iPad minis giving them the latest information at their fingertips. Improvements to our app and website will be rolled out after Christmas.

Good news – new trains and more seats

There is good news. The first of 29 brand new, air-conditioned Class 387 trains have started to arrive on the Thameslink route and these will be steadily rolled out on Bedford to Brighton services so that we can, this January, lengthen two key overcrowded Brighton services and deliver a much more pleasant, comfortable way to travel. By May virtually every train on this service group will be a modern air-conditioned train. The older trains still in operation are having modern accessible toilets installed, spaces for people in wheelchairs and scrolling information displays.

Great Northern benefits too: in response to passenger feedback, we’ll have 15,500 extra seats in the off-peak from 14 December 2014 to and from Moorgate and King’s Cross, through longer trains and later late night services.

Thank you for your patience and please accept our apologies. We are determined to make things better.


Charles Horton, Chief Executive Officer Govia Thameslink Railway
 

21C101

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GTR today said:
Regrettably, despite our best efforts, some services have been cancelled because we have not had enough drivers for all our rail services, especially given the essential training we are undertaking at the moment to deliver Thameslink programme works.

We inherited this issue when we took over the franchise in September and we are determined to address it. We have made a public commitment to recruit enough drivers to substantially reduce our reliance on drivers working overtime. Right now we have 62 in training who will be finishing their courses between now and August and we are recruiting another 89. We are recruiting extra trainers so we can ramp up the number of courses. Training a driver takes more than a year however, so there is no quick fix to this issue.

So they've known that they have had a problem since September. Given that I would have thought they would have an amended timetable prepared rather than sudden multiple ad-hoc cancellations and there would have been more notice of the cancellations, and a generally more controlled situation?

This is now the BBC reported the start of two months of hell on 5th November 2009. Sound Familiar (my bold)?

BBC said:
Commuter and weekend train services into London from the east, south east and south are facing disruption because of a shortage of drivers.
First Capital Connect and Thameslink rely on staff working overtime, rest days and weekends to cover services.
Sickness and training programmes have combined to create the shortage....
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/8344231.stm

By 12th November, more detail was known by Railnews:

Railnews said:
First Capital Connect has halved the Thameslink service, as drivers continue to refuse overtime and rest day working in protest at the company's pay offer. ASLEF has announced a strike ballot, while FCC has warned that the emergency timetable will continue until further notice...

Railnews has been told that the number of Thameslink drivers is down by 30, or almost 10 per cent, and that normal services were only being maintained by a large amount of overtime and rest day working. The drivers started to refuse extra hours almost three weeks ago, and FCC services have been increasingly affected....

First Capital Connect introduced an emergency timetable on Wednesday which effectively halves the Thameslink service. There are only two off-peak trains each hour from Bedford, and three from Luton. FCC has warned that even this timetable may not be maintained throughout.
http://www.railnews.co.uk/news/2009/11/12-thameslink-in-tatters-as-drivers.html

I am worried that there may be more to this than just training and general shortage. I don't ever want to endure another winter like 2009-10.
 
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Tetchytyke

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GoVia have inherited a situation where there are too few drivers for the number of booked jobs. They're reliant on goodwill. Coming up to Christmas that goodwill is always less in supply.

Consider it a goodbye gift from First Group.
 

SPADTrap

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GoVia have inherited a situation where there are too few drivers for the number of booked jobs. They're reliant on goodwill. Coming up to Christmas that goodwill is always less in supply.

Consider it a goodbye gift from First Group.

This is the truth!
 
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Which part of their franchise bid dealt with their solution for the driver shortage issue. It must have been known that there would be this problem, both to GoVia when it bid and by DfT when it awarded the franchise.

Sounds like they hoped this could all be brushed under the carpet.

I have no issue with drivers deciding not to work rest days and overtime, its their right to refuse, but how in the name of sweet Jebus can a 21st century rail network be run using 19th century staffing practices.

It isn't possible to magic drivers up from thin air, but seeing the numbers they plan to recruit and train I'm surprised more trains aren't cancelled.

This is a management and Government failure. Given the proximity to the next general Election I think its time to bring this to the attention of the relevant Honourable Members of Parliament.
 

Bald Rick

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An honest statement from the top.

It does get better immediately in the new year:

1) the training for TLP reduces considerably
2) annual leave requests drop
3) the Christmas bills come in, meaning overtime is more likely to be covered

There is, as ever, stuff that can't be said on here, and will await publication in the book "A Cunning Plan" the memoirs of Bald Rick.
 

Bishopstone

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First Class declassified on TL tonight, so I shall see what they make of a London Bridge - Haywards Heath claim on a London Terminals - Seaford annual season.

I expect this will prove too complicated for them and I will be ignored.
 

otomous

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Which part of their franchise bid dealt with their solution for the driver shortage issue. It must have been known that there would be this problem, both to GoVia when it bid and by DfT when it awarded the franchise.

Sounds like they hoped this could all be brushed under the carpet.

I have no issue with drivers deciding not to work rest days and overtime, its their right to refuse, but how in the name of sweet Jebus can a 21st century rail network be run using 19th century staffing practices.

It isn't possible to magic drivers up from thin air, but seeing the numbers they plan to recruit and train I'm surprised more trains aren't cancelled.

This is a management and Government failure. Given the proximity to the next general Election I think its time to bring this to the attention of the relevant Honourable Members of Parliament.

Can you explain what you mean by "19th century staffing practices" please?
 

21C101

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I see First Crapital Connect are still going. Their forum has started attracting posts again, alough rather more heat than light. http://www.firstcrapitalconnect.co.uk/

It also does seem that half the posters on this board commute on Thameslink
 
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ChiefPlanner

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Just back in - 1948 off SPX - late - 4 cars - unboardable / wedged solid.

2004 Bedford cape.

Got an 8 car (thank you Lord !) all stations to SAC - wedged with refugees off fast trains. £2K+ for a 6 monthly season ticket + 1-4 Travelcard. I rest my - and other commuters case.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I commented about this earlier in the thread.

While it was initially an absolute disaster, I feel FCC handled it well. An emergency timetable was implemented, with all trains stopping at all stations and every train 8 carriages.

I actually found it more enjoyable to travel. As all trains had the same stopping pattern the load was spread more evenly and there were no 4 carriage trains.

Absolute rubbish - a worse service than the post Hatfield post corner gauge cracking. (when it was a 12 TPH emergency service all stations to Moorgate only) - if you think they (FCC) handled it well , as they caused it in the first place , then we violently disagree.

People pay a high premium for a so called fast outer suburban service - not some random "all shacks" service wedged to the roof with local London commuters south of Elstree.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Again, good for us Albanistas - we could stand in intercity ambience, but the trains would be rather expensively carting fresh air up to Derby / Nottingham / Sheffield, and all those already on board would have an extra 5 mins journey time.

Despite protestations to the contrary - there is a surprising amount of fresh air now on the EMT's tearing down the fast lines towards SPX. Of course - the ambience might be ruined by a surge of SAC commuters trampling on a the hallowed carpets of a HST / 221.

A mere 7 million journeys from SAC in the recent counts. One might think I have had some bad journeys recently.....
 
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Can you explain what you mean by "19th century staffing practices" please?

I mean a service industry that hasn't yet worked out that it needs to provide a service when its customers need it, not when it can be bothered to arrange adequate staffing levels. Imagine rocking up at MacDonalds at lunchtime on Saturday only to be told there are no burgers because they couldn't get staff to work on a Saturday? The days of a five-day working week are over. In case the message hasn't percolated through, London is a 24 hour seven day a week city and the people working there need to have reliable affordable transport. Today's cancellation of two consecutive Brighton - Bedford services just at the beginning of the evening peak is inexcusable. The 17.02 service from St Pancras is usually rammed, with overspill being taken by the following train.

There should be enough trained drivers employed to cover ALL rostered turns with PAID cover in the event of sickness/emergency/unforeseen domestic incident. Whatever happened to drivers in a "Spare Link", or did that go the way of BR when Major's Government carved up the system?

Up to now its been a cozy arrangement whereby the management doesn't have to pay the rate that would be needed to ensure weekend and off-peak services run, but it also benefits drivers because they can work rest days and overtime and get paid well over the normal hourly rate.

At present, the drivers' T&C mean they can't be forced to work rest days. I'm not saying they should be forced to, but enjoy the benefits while they last. Eventually there won't be contracts on offer that allow the current practice to continue. Political and consumer pressure will be brought to bear on the issue. The London Underground drivers who strike at the drop of a shop steward's hankie are amongst the most loathed workers in London by those other workers who are inconvenienced by their actions. Why should it be any different when it comes to intransigent main line drivers and incompetent or spineless management?

The same management team (GoVia) at London Midland admitted that most of the weekend trains it runs rely on the goodwill of drivers working rest days. This is what I mean by 19th century staffing practices.
 

Abpj17

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Meh; I really don't want slow/reduced service - commute is already two hours each way on a bad side of normal day. Another 30 mins each day due to poor frequency and slows would be awful. On the plus side, two weeks off for Xmas without thameslink :)
 
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