Chris Gibb, the trouble shooter appointed by the Government to investigate the problems at Southern Rail, has today published his report. The findings are consistent with what we discussed when I met with him in December, and the report can be found here: http://bit.ly/2tRChFw
Key Findings include:
– RMT and ASLEF leadership are “the primary cause for the failure of the system integrity”: Their action is undermining the system and “without doubt the priority is to resolve the current Southern industrial relations issues”.
– The infrastructure on the network is in a poor and unreliable condition and this needs to be urgently raised. At least £300 million needs to be spent before the end of 2018 to improve current performance.
– Two weeks of closures are recommended on routes notable for their poor condition, including station closures, to allow for “an intensive and productive period of infrastructure maintenance”. In East Surrey, this would include closure of Horley station.
– A decision needs to be made on driver recruitment practices, and whether to recruit on the basis of no overtime being worked.
I am pleased that work is already underway to implement some of Chris’ recommendations. In January, for example, the Government announced £300m for Network Rail to improve rail infrastructure and resilience along the Southern and Thameslink networks.
That said, I am still concerned about the service and I am today writing to Chief Executive Charles Horton to request a meeting to discuss the recommendations in detail, as well as Southern’s plans to implement them.