Southern rail: Government fines owners over train delays

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The proprietresses of Southern rail have been fined £13.4m for poor exhibition, the Department for Transport (DfT) has announced.

The government said the fine on Govia Thameslink Rail (GTR) would have been higher, but most of the delays had not been Southern’s overly.

The DfT said strikes and unprecedented levels of sick leave were also intermediaries.

The RMT union was critical of the fine, saying the government had let Southern and its parent performers off the hook.

‘Badly let down’

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling identified GTR strike action did «not fully explain the poor service».

In a letter to Charles Horton, GTR’s chief managerial, he said: «Performance on Southern has improved dramatically since Christmas, as the disruption from circle activity has decreased.

«But that performance is still not good enough.»

The shipping secretary said the £13.4m was to be spent on «performance and passenger improvements», tabulating £4m to fund 50 on-board supervisors over the next two years.

«Fares who depend on Southern have been badly let down,» Mr Grayling totaled.

‘Global laughing stock’

A spokesman for GTR said the company accepted the fee as a «fair outcome».

He said: «The settlement acknowledges that the industrial enterprise taken by the trade unions has been a major contributor to the disruption adept by passengers in the past year, and we welcome the fact that a significant modify of our claim was recognised.»

Mr Horton said: «We are pleased that this copy has been concluded, and accept and are sorry that our service levels haven’t been attractive thorough enough for passengers.»

However, general secretary of the RMT, Mick Cash, broke: «This pathetic response to the abject failure by Southern/GTR to deliver on their undertake doesn’t even stack up to a slap on the wrist.

«No wonder the company are gloating. Chris Grayling has let them off the ensnare big-style.

«This is yet another case of the government and their rail manufacture cronies investigating themselves while the services they are responsible for are a far-reaching laughing stock.»

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, added: «There is stock-still no end in sight to the problems of Southern.

«The DfT has failed, the transport secretary has failed, and Southern has give out.»

Southern has been embroiled in a bitter dispute for more than a year with the RMT and Aslef unions greater than driver-only operated trains.

‘Token fine’

The Association of British Commuters (ABC) took juridical action over what it described as a «fiasco», seeking a judicial flyover.

Bringing the case to the High Court last month, ABC argued legates had acted unlawfully by failing to determine whether managers had breached franchise pledges.

However, Mr Justice Ouseley said he would not grant a judicial cavalcade on the understanding that Mr Grayling would come to a decision over the Southern denounce crisis by 13 July.

Emily Yates, of ABC, said: «It [the fine] doesn’t in reality touch the sides of this whole issue.

«This is a token £13.4m hair-splitting presented as an improvement package.»

Southern says it has never made a profit on the putting into play.

An overtime ban by Aslef, the driver’s union, which came into thrust on 28 June has forced Southern to axe a quarter of its train services.

Southern is driving a revised timetable affecting services in Kent, Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire.

Dissection: Richard Westcott, BBC transport correspondent

The unions and some angry commuter numbers wanted the government to sack Southern but that was never going to come to pass.

It would mean the DfT would have to step in and run things and that’s the abide thing they want.

This line is complex and fraught with set up and industrial issues.

It would also be humiliating for ministers to have to permit that a private company couldn’t handle things. Fans of nationalising the railroads would have a field day.

And then there’s the long term. Theatre troupes aren’t exactly queuing up to spend millions of pounds bidding to occupied in over this tricky and troubled contract.

As someone from a combat train company once told me: «We dodged a bullet there.»

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