Why are Northern allowed to cancel Sunday Services seemingly at will?

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bramling

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This isn't really economically or operationally viable. You are basically asking the union to name it's price and giving no incentive to make this realistic. Costs could easily run into the tens of thousands per employee. Where should that be recovered from and is it really a good use of very limited resources?

There is then the high likelihood that unions will come back with higher and higher demands each time if they feel there is a good chance they will get what they want. Or alternatively even if they don't get what they want unions may just adopt stalling tactics in order to hold up the franchasing process each time there is a new contract.
Buying the conditions off people is the only realistic way of achieving change - at least in any meaningful timescale. I’m not sure the “price” would necessarily be that high, where I am people squabble over paltry amounts of overtime after all! Bung in a couple of extra leave days and most would be happy.

The bigger problem is the substantial increase in drivers, both financially and the logistics of providing them. All of a sudden one goes from a 6-day roster to a 7-day roster, or equivalent, with a whole load of extra duties on the roster. They have to be covered one way or other, so you either have uncovered duties galore (probably on the other six days too) or else a requirement for many extra people.

In a way it’s a perfect storm - drivers salaries have increased such that RDW is less valuable and a drive to cut costs, all at the same time as a desire to increase Sunday services. Something has to give...
 
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Bovverboy

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Significant number of train services replaced by buses between Hunts Cross and Manchester Oxford Road from late morning to late afternoon on Easter Sunday due to shortage of train crew
According to RTT, it was only three round trips which missed, but they were consecutive - 1245, 1348, 1448 ex Oxford Road, 1343, 1443, 1543 ex Hunts Cross. So one set missed two trips (stabled in platform 5 at Ox for the duration) and the other set missed one (platform 1).

There's no mention of replacement buses being provided, I do hope that they were.
 

MichaelAMW

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Possibly only through franchise changes/merging such as ex-Central/MML crew at EMT. Here in East Anglia us drivers are on the same contracts as we where working for Anglia, Great Eastern & WAGN in 2004. Neither will give up their particular T&Cs & all attempts to harmonise by National Express & latterly Abellio have failed. Perhaps these are the examples you are thinking of.
No, I'm talking about people who were on the same contract but who are now on more than one contract. I've checked my info and it was actually a private communication via this forum, which is why I couldn't find the relevant post to quote or refer to.
 

Aivilo

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Can't see Northern giving up the sundays they went out on strike for without out a decent deal.

Three sets of conditions at Northern and the west won't give up Sundays without a fight
 

dilbertphil

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In my Northern days the companies (abellio & arriva) complete lack of interest in harmonizing conditions and providing a decent Sunday service was apparent for all to see and the blame in my opinion lays squarely at their door.
 

Greybeard33

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When Arriva bid for the current franchise, it offered to provide the additional Sunday services. And, assuming the bid team had done its homework, it knew about the traincrew terms and conditions it would inherit from Abellio-Serco. So the subsidy payments Arriva agreed with DfT should have been based on a plan that would ensure that sufficient staff were available on Sundays.

If Arriva is now unable to resource the agreed Sunday services, it should be subject to financial penalties in accordance with the franchise agreement, regardless of the whys and wherefores.
 

sprunt

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Possibly only through franchise changes/merging such as ex-Central/MML crew at EMT. Here in East Anglia us drivers are on the same contracts as we where working for Anglia, Great Eastern & WAGN in 2004. Neither will give up their particular T&Cs & all attempts to harmonise by National Express & latterly Abellio have failed.
Does this cause a toxic working environment, as has previously been suggested in the thread ?
 

dk1

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Does this cause a toxic working environment, as has previously been suggested in the thread ?
Not in the slightest as they are all at different depots and we where all separate in the first place. It was just the name that has changed several times but to us Bishops Stortford is a WA, Colchester is GE & Ipswich AR for example. We all have certain things we would never give up so none of us are going to agree to change.
 

Richard P

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According to RTT, it was only three round trips which missed, but they were consecutive - 1245, 1348, 1448 ex Oxford Road, 1343, 1443, 1543 ex Hunts Cross. So one set missed two trips (stabled in platform 5 at Ox for the duration) and the other set missed one (platform 1).

There's no mention of replacement buses being provided, I do hope that they were.
According the National Rail app they were but I've no actual evidence that occured
 

muz379

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These threads always seem to come up with the same circular arguments , predominately from people not in the rail industry .

Firstly , the unions are not set against Sundays being inside the working week . If you go to the depots and speak to some of the members you might get that impression but the position of ASLEF is clearly that Sundays should be inside the working week . And there should be no reliance on overtime to cover the train plan . To this affect ASLEF have indeed been negotiating with Northern to achieve that aim as well as the harmonisation of 3 sets of T's&C's . But it seems that the deal put to the members was not acceptable to them . I have no doubt those negotiations will continue and it seems reasonable to expect that something might be put before members which they do find acceptable , but I could equally be wrong on that . That in my view is the correct way to go about guaranteeing cover for sundays .

Secondly , this idea of people being employed on new contracts is simply not going to happen , the unions would not sanction it and being honest about it , it would not even solve the problems anyway . Contracting people to work every sunday is all good and well until they book sick , get taken off trains for some reason or other or have annual leave . Then you will be relying on the people currently not contracted to work every Sunday to cover their work ? How well do you think that will go down . Given the topic of this thread and ongoing issue is getting staff not contracted to work Sundays to work them ?

Whilst I would not go as far as to call it a toxic environment , it would cause some friction between people in the same grade . If you employed someone to work every Sunday but paid them the same as current drivers without the requirement to work Sundays you are clearly going to get friction that occurs there . But also if someone is going to work every Sunday they cannot be rostered onto a late Saturday to early Monday turn shift changeover which is one of the least desirable aspects of shift working so that would cause friction . And of course in order to accommodate every Sunday whilst maintaining a 4 day week they are going to have to have a different rest day pattern to others in the same grade which will also cause friction . Whilst these might only be small points of friction between people in the same grade they can over time effect morale and ultimately reduce the amount of goodwill staff show to each other and the company . And even at TOC's with Sundays inside the week for all train crew there is still some need for staff showing goodwill .

The numbers also would not add up to start with and leave Sunday work uncovered . Say you have a larger depot with 150 drivers , and 10% of those are on the new contract . That is 15 drivers in work every Sunday , but at larger depots there can be 20-25 Sunday turns that need covering . And of course if any of those 15 drivers have annual leave , are off sick or are unable to drive for some other reason you have even less cover . That's why in my opinion bringing it in member by member in an industry with low staff turnover like the railway is just a daft idea and would not work in practice . In the short to medium term in fact it might make things catastrophically worse . Thankfully those advocating for it are nowhere near the bodies that make these decisions in the industry .

For me one short term change which could be used to try and improve things whilst negotiations are ongoing is make Sunday working more financially attractive , currently drivers earn more for a weekday RD than a Sunday , which stands to reason as being something to do with why Sundays are difficult to cover .
 

bramling

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Surely the employer would treat it exactly the same as if someone rang in sick on one of their normal working days? I.e. whatever monitoring/disciplinary system they have in place to deal with employees suspected of pulling fake sickies.

I'd imagine the employer will take action if someone is regularly sick on a Monday or a Friday, so the same should apply if they regularly phone in sick on Sundays which they've previously agreed to work.
People aren’t so daft as to ring in on the Sunday. In some cases they’ll just take the whole week off, depending on the attendance policy.

Realistically there’s not a massive amount of “action” the company can take. Issue a warning perhaps, bear in mind the self-same manager could quite easily be begging for a favour the following week. There’s a combination of an industry which is weakly resourced, combined with staff who quite simply have leverage as they can’t be replaced at the drop of a hat. This is simply one of those facts of life, in the same way that footballers earn disproportionately high salaries.
 

philthetube

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Put Sundays in the Rosta, pay time and a half, options for current drivers to opt out, and pay an overtime rate of double time for Sundays, this would not happen often and would rapidly become less frequent as more people ended up on new contracts.
 

Aivilo

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Good points above.

As safety critical staff we are bound by strict rest periods. Quite simply if I want to earn some additional money I'm not going to volunteer on a Sunday at a flat rate when I can get more on say a Wednesday rest day.

You can't even take annual leave on a Sunday which is why nothing can be done should you not arrive for your shift.

Sunday's will come in but the deal has to be right for drivers and I think the business made a big mistake by publishing the proposed agreement.
 

dk1

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Put Sundays in the Rosta, pay time and a half, options for current drivers to opt out, and pay an overtime rate of double time for Sundays, this would not happen often and would rapidly become less frequent as more people ended up on new contracts.
I pity the poor roster clerk that had to compile that Sunday driver list o_O

It would have to be all or nothing & go to a vote else unions will never agree to it. Total non starter.
 
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So, all in all, there don't seem to be any ongoing sanctions available in the franchise if Northern have short notice cancellations, because DfT recognise that drivers sometimes are unable to work on Sundays? And aren't the contracts now run by TfN?
 

Railweigh

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Good points above.

As safety critical staff we are bound by strict rest periods. Quite simply if I want to earn some additional money I'm not going to volunteer on a Sunday at a flat rate when I can get more on say a Wednesday rest day.

You can't even take annual leave on a Sunday which is why nothing can be done should you not arrive for your shift.

Sunday's will come in but the deal has to be right for drivers and I think the business made a big mistake by publishing the proposed agreement.
Every driver in the East that I spoke to (where Sundays are already inside the working week) wanted the new deal. I can only assume that the West don’t want Sundays inside their week at any cost, as the pay increase for them was huge. I came from outside the rail industry and can still remember what it’s like in the real world.
 

Aivilo

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East men came over to a local west meeting after the business spoke out and they weren't happy about the deal, It's far to vague and Sundays are being sold off for pennies if you look at the figures.

Personally for me it doesn't matter but I appreciate that these conditions were fought for and won't be given up for nothing.
 

ComUtoR

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I came from outside the rail industry and can still remember what it’s like in the real world.
What is this 'Real World' you speak of ? Do you mean the one where people are contracted to work on specific days, the one where many people also refuse to work weekends, the one with the monday-friday culture, the one with zero hour workers, or the one where you never work on a bank holiday ?
 

baz962

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What is this 'Real World' you speak of ? Do you mean the one where people are contracted to work on specific days, the one where many people also refuse to work weekends, the one with the monday-friday culture, the one with zero hour workers, or the one where you never work on a bank holiday ?
I would suspect they mean the one where people work double the hour's us driver's do for half the pay and work every weekend , every bank holiday , and get flat rate at minimum wage. But I suspect you knew that Com. I am committed to 26 Sunday's myself at my toc. I am not agreeing or disagreeing with railweigh or yourself Com , I'm happy with my lot and I understand both sides.
 

Bletchleyite

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I would suspect they mean the one where people work double the hour's us driver's do for half the pay and work every weekend , every bank holiday , and get flat rate at minimum wage. But I suspect you knew that Com. I am committed to 26 Sunday's myself at my toc. I am not agreeing or disagreeing with railweigh or yourself Com , I'm happy with my lot and I understand both sides.
I do understand the issues, but what to me is unacceptable is publicising an undeliverable service. If what can be reliably delivered is 2-hourly on the mainlines (max the lengths out) and nothing on the branches, that is what should be being publicised.

And that (be that bidding an undeliverable service, or not implementing pre-published emergency timetables well in advance) is 100% Northern's fault.
 

baz962

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I do understand the issues, but what to me is unacceptable is publicising an undeliverable service. If what can be reliably delivered is 2-hourly on the mainlines (max the lengths out) and nothing on the branches, that is what should be being publicised.

And that (be that bidding an undeliverable service, or not implementing pre-published emergency timetables well in advance) is 100% Northern's fault.
I'm not disagreeing . I think in this day and age we should be providing a decent service every day in every industry , not just the railway.
 

Bletchleyite

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I'm not disagreeing . I think in this day and age we should be providing a decent service every day in every industry , not just the railway.
I think that should be the aim for public services (and is in far more religious countries than the UK - you don't get much more Christian than Italy, for instance, and that doesn't have and never did have rubbish Sunday train services). However, I also don't think TOCs should be getting away with the publication of undeliverable timetables.

You almost never see a cancellation on the south WCML (other than the Southern service, so the same applies to that execrable TOC too). That should be the norm everywhere. If it isn't, the timetable needs thinning.
 

njamescouk

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just wasted 90 mins of my life waiting for a rail replacement bus. if there'd been advance warning (eg. notices at every affected station saying no trains on Sunday) I wouldn't have made arrangements. should have known better than to even go to the station.
 

MichaelAMW

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I pity the poor roster clerk that had to compile that Sunday driver list o_O

It would have to be all or nothing & go to a vote else unions will never agree to it. Total non starter.
Except, as I have already pointed out to you, there are already depots where drivers and guards do have different contracts, and Sundays are an element of those differences.
 

Matt_pool

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just wasted 90 mins of my life waiting for a rail replacement bus. if there'd been advance warning (eg. notices at every affected station saying no trains on Sunday) I wouldn't have made arrangements. should have known better than to even go to the station.
Similar thing happened to me a few weeks ago. Rail replacement buses due to engineering work. I planned on getting the RRB because in the past they have actually been reliable, journey time to Liverpool city is quicker than the normal bus, and a return ticket is cheaper than on the normal bus.

So I bought a return ticket on the Northern app, ended up waiting 45 minutes with no sign of the bus. Decided to give up when 2 other people waiting for the RRB went down the road to catch the normal bus. Waited another 10 minutes for the bus, still with no sign of the RRB, and forked out an extra £2.30 on a bus ticket.

That reminds me, I need to put in a couple of delay repay claims to Northern!
 

DanDaDriver

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We had Sunday’s brought into the working week quite recently. ASLEF were very much for it, and negotiated the pay deal around it.

It’s come in and virtually no-one is upset about it. If anything the rest Day pattern has improved. There’s still RDW if you want it, and there’s a few protected ex-BR guys who have their own link without Sunday’s in it.

Everyone’s happy, no fuss despite what the Daily Mail readers on here would have you believe.
 

Killingworth

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Sadly the poor customers wanting to travel are once again the victims here.

We all know Northern is the most subsidised TOC in England so extracting as much revenue as possible should be a priority. The Hope Valley line is busiest at weekends, particularly mornings and late afternoons. The Peak District National Park and other bodies want to get traffic off the roads. Today that was an issue with cars parked in all available car parks, and other suitable and unsuitable places. It would take many long trains to make much of an impression but a lot do want to use trains.

Saturday strikes for many months threw more load onto Sunday services as walkers changed arrangements, but already Saturday loadings have fully recovered. However today two return services have been cancelled at short notice due to crew issues leaving 2 hour gaps in the service.

Is it surprising that most would prefer to use a car that starts at exactly the time required, goes to the precise location desired, and is immediately available for the return journey? Those who are trying to promote public transport find it hard enough when trains and buses run to timetable. The reason for any deviance from those timetables is not foremost in the mind of the traveller having to replan their journey, and subsequent plans for the rest of the day.

If Northern, and all other TOCs, offer timetabled trains on Sundays they should organise their affairs to operate them all - and on every day.

Knowing the underlying reasons for these Sunday failings has been festering for years is no consolation whatsoever. The fragmented privatised railway is unlikely to find easy long term solutions when there are so many old terms and conditions to disentangle. In the meantime passengers' opinions of the rail industry sink yet again. Managers, workers, the government, it's all the same to those stranded for another hour or more.
 
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