Southern commuters want franchise stripped from Govia, survey finds

The majority of Southern commuters want Govia stripped of its franchise, a recent survey by a rail passengers' group has found.

Saturday, 31st December 2016, 11:14 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 4:41 am
web standing-images. Rail. (Hastings, but can be generic)

The survey, which was conducted by the Association of British Commuters (ABC), gathered a total of 1,099 responses mostly from those who either commute to work or education every day.

Of those 737 people said wanted to see the company stripped of the franchise while around 638 people said they wanted to Transport secretary Chris Grayling and/or rail minister Paul Maynard resign.

Most also reported daily delays – at an average of 27 minutes on outward journeys and 38 minutes on homeward journeys – widespread cancellations, and feelings of tiredness or stress, which was affecting their performance.

A spokesperson for ABC said: “Our passenger-led campaign produced the survey to highlight the real extent of suffering in the South, which goes far beyond the phenomenon of the current strikes – viewed by many as a symptom - not the cause - of the utter breakdown of service we have suffered in 2016.

“Questions focused on the costs to commuters – covering time costs, personal impact, work impact, extra expenses and much more. We also posed in-depth questions into the everyday difficulties of travelling on Southern Rail, and the health and safety risks that have been a daily concern over the past six months of service breakdown.

“Thousands of people are now at breaking point, and the Association of British Commuters continues to advocate on their behalf – calling for immediate and transparent government intervention into this failed company as well as a fully independent public inquiry into the circumstances behind the collapse of Southern Rail.”

ABC was set up earlier this year as a pressure group for Southern passengers, initially to protest against the ongoing disruption.

In September the group raised more than £26,290 to fund the application stage of a judicial review into the Department for Transport’s (DfT) handling of the Southern dispute.

Responding to the survey a spokesperson for Southern said: “We’re sorry for what passengers have been experiencing and are determined to restore the service they rightly expect.

“Despite the unions’ disputes, we’ve never wavered from moving forward with our modernisation plans, refocusing conductors’ responsibilities through the new On-board Supervisor role which will mean fewer delays, fewer cancellations and better on-board customer service.

“Now we are virtually finished with the transfer to driver-controlled operation, we call on the unions to stop this pointless action. No-one wants an end to this more than us and our door remains open for productive talks.”

The online survey gave respondents the option to skip certain questions, meaning not all of the 1,099 answered each question.

Of the 873 people who answered a question on what actions they would like to see taken, 84.42 per cent (737 people) said they would like to see Govia stripped of its franchise.

Most people – 82.25 per cent (718 people) – also said they wanted the Department for Transport (DfT) to intervene in the ongoing industrial dispute, while 76.98 per cent (672 people) said they would like to see a public inquiry into the DfT over the issue.

Meanwhile 73.08 per cent (638 people) said they wanted Transport secretary Chris Grayling and/or rail minister Paul Maynard to resign from their positions.

Just under half of respondents – 41.12 per cent (359 people) – said they would like to see the railway renationalised, while 26.8 per cent (234 people) said they wanted to see tighter trade union laws.

Only one respondent (0.11 per cent) found no fault with Southern’s services.

When asked who is the most responsible for the disruption out of Southern Rail/Govia Thameslink, the Department for Transport and the RMT and ASLEF unions, 23.43 per cent (205 people) said Southern/GTR are the most responsible, 23.31 per cent (204 people) said it was the DfT, while 5.36 per cent (46 people) said the unions were most responsible.

But most of those surveyed – 44.34 per cent (388 people)– said all the groups were equally responsible. The other respondents (32 people) said another group was most responsible.

When asked if they sympathise with the RMT and ASLEF strikes, 24 per cent (210 people) said they totally support the strikes, 41.26 per cent (361 people) said they sympathised but could not support the strikes due to its impact on their lives, while 34.74 per cent (304 people) said they do not support the strikes or the unions’ reasons for striking.

Asked if they had safety concerns around Driver Only Operations (DOO)

The full survey results can be found here:

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