The Department for Transport (DfT) has denied giving permission for cuts to services on the troubled Southern Railway but the company will publish a temporary timetable on Tuesday (5 July) to provide a ‘more predictable’ service.
The Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union claimed that the Government had given Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which runs Southern services, ‘permission to introduce an emergency timetable… allowing them to cancel another 350 trains a day’.
Southern will run fewer services from London Victoria
A DfT spokesman said: ‘We are aware that GTR is considering some changes in order to strengthen their timetable in the face of ongoing disruption, so as many services as possible can run.
‘When this happens, operators are contractually obliged to inform us in advance, but these decisions are taken only when there is no other solution, and this does not amount to the government giving permission.’
A GTR spokesman told Transport Network THAT the company would be confirming details of a temporary timetable on Tuesday.
He said: ‘The timetable recognises that the present level of service has not been acceptable and will aim to give passengers a more predictable service they can plan around.
‘This will be a temporary measure until train crew availability levels return to normal.’
Responding to the news, Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, joined calls for GTR to be stripped of the franchise.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said the plans were the ’latest savage attack on passenger services by GTR’.
He said: ‘The solution of this failing, basket-case franchise is not axing more trains and attacking those trying to hold it together at the sharp end - it is the removal of Govia at the earliest possible point.
'Directly Operated Railways, who sorted out the mess on the East Coast, are lined up and ready to go and they should be given the green light to take over and start running these routes under public control, in the public interest.‘
Last week, Southern came joint bottom of Transport Focus’ National Rail Passenger Survey, in polling conducted in February and March.