ORR fines Govia Thameslink Railway £5m

Class 700
Credit: ThamesLink

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has announced that Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) face a £5m fine after they found that it failed to provide appropriate, accurate and timely information to passengers following the introduction of a new timetable last May.

Following the severe disruption caused by the introduction of the May 2018 timetable and findings from a subsequent independent ORR Inquiry, ORR initiated a further investigation into whether GTR and Northern did everything reasonably practicable to provide appropriate information to its passengers.

A separate ORR investigation into Northern found that although in many cases passengers did experience inadequate information in the two weeks that immediately followed the timetable introduction, it had considered and subsequently took reasonable steps in these circumstances to give passengers appropriate, accurate and timely information both prior to and during the disruption.

An interim timetable was introduced on 4 June that stabilised service levels, improved performance, and enabled the provision of better information to passengers. In consideration of these findings no further action will be taken against Northern.

The ORR found that:

  • Trains were permanently removed from the timetable but passengers were not clearly informed until several weeks later
  • Further trains were removed or cancelled on a daily basis leading to very short notice changes to the timetable and a severe lack of certainty for passengers up until the point of travel
  • Some trains were reintroduced but with insufficient time to input journey information into systems. These ‘ghost trains’ arrived at stations with staff and passengers unaware of their arrival or where they were expected to stop
  • Replacement buses were used on some routes but prolonged delays in providing information in journey planners meant many passengers weren’t aware that they were available
  • Inadequate internal communication often left frontline staff with little or no information to assist passengers in making their journey
What did the officials say?

Stephanie Tobyn, Deputy Director, Consumers, ORR:

“The disruption experienced by many passengers as a result of the May timetable introduction was awful. When disruption happens, poor quality information makes an already difficult and frustrating situation worse.

“The exceptional circumstances that followed the introduction of the timetable meant that providing perfect advance information for passengers was from the outset an impossible task and GTR’s overriding focus was on providing as much capacity as it could to meet customer demand. However persistent and prolonged failures in information provision meant that passengers couldn’t benefit from the operational improvement it was trying to make”

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  • Good. Govia Thameslink Railway deserves it. But what about fining Arriva Northern trains for allowing continuous strikes in a space of a year or few years to continue. As Northern have had at least 48 strikes.