Southern Rail infrastructure is in ‘poor and unreliable’ condition, says report | London

Southern Rail’s infrastructure is in “poor and unreliable” condition and all elements of the system have been under strain, according to a delayed report into the company’s performance.

A long-awaited report by Network Rail director Chris Gibb criticises industrial action taken by Aslef and the RMT union over the past year in protest at driver-only trains which has caused travel chaos.

But the report, completed last year, also makes it clear that the Department for Transport, Southern’s owners Govia Thameslink Railway, Network Rail as well as the unions, have been “well aware” of how much strain the system has been under.

Charles Horton, chief executive officer of Govia Thameslink Railway, said:

As he rightly identifies, we took over long-standing problems and a very challenging franchise with unreliable infrastructure and a very tight timetable.

The only way to address the capacity problem is to modernise infrastructure, trains, systems and working practices. We urge our trade unions to play their part by working with us on the modernisation of working practices and have assured them that there will be no job losses. We have in fact increased staff providing customer service.
Some of the changes he recommends have already been implemented, such as the provision of an additional £300 million of infrastructure investment and allowing increased engineering hours on the Brighton Mainline, whilst others are currently being considered by the Government, Network Rail and ourselves.

– Charles Horton, chief executive officer of Govia Thameslink Railway

I note Chris Gibb states that no single party is responsible for Southern Rail’s performance. He’s right. It’s a combination of the Department for Transport and GTR/Southern deliberately provoking an industrial dispute.

The Southern Rail network is a microcosm of the entire rail industry.The Government has been sitting on the Gibb report for six months. Why were they so afraid to publish it?

– Mick Whelan, Aslef general secretary

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