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"Poor and unreliable" - verdict of damning Southern Rail report

"Poor and unreliable" - that's the verdict of a damning report into Southern Rail Photo: PA

"Poor and unreliable" - that's the verdict of a damning report into Southern Rail. The long-awaited investigation has found all parts of the company have been under strain.

Problems highlighted in the Gibb Report include an "unreliable infrastructure", overcrowded trains and stations, and the strikes which have disrupted hundreds of thousands of commuters over the last year.

The Report largely blames the unions for the company's problems, while union, Aslef, says its down to the company because of their failure to engage with them over driver-only trains.

Conservative MP Huw Merriman for Bexhill & Battle says he's "delighted the report has finally been published":

What is the Gibb Report?

Last year, the Secretary of State for Transport commissioned Chris Gibb, a non-executive Network Rail director with more than 30 years’ experience in the industry, to prepare a report outlining the issues affecting the Southern Rail network's performance.

Gibb was tasked with recommending how to resolve these, and other issues directly related, including the Thameslink 2018 operation.

That report has now been published by the Department for Transport.

What does the Aslef union think about the findings?

Responding to the Gibb Report, Mick Whelan, Aslef general secretary, said:

I note Chris Gibb states that no single party is responsible for Southern Rail's performance. He's right. It's a combination of the Department for Transport and GTR/Southern deliberately provoking an industrial dispute.

The Southern Rail network is a microcosm of the entire rail industry.The Government has been sitting on the Gibb report for six months. Why were they so afraid to publish it?"

– Mick Whelan, Aslef general secretary

What does the RMT union think about the findings?

Responding to the Gibb Report, Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, said:

No wonder the Government have sat on the Gibb report for seven months. It's taken them that long to slice and fillet it into a document that they can spin as an attack on the unions and the staff.

Nobody who uses Southern Rail day in and day out will be fooled by this fit-up by Chris Grayling and the minority Tory Government.

This is a classic case of who pays the piper calls the tune. It's a shame Mr Gibb never bothered to talk to the unions and the staff and has allowed himself to be used by the Government as a human shield over the Southern Rail fiasco.

The fight for safety and access to services on Southern Rail goes on. Chris Grayling can cut and paste Gibb however he likes to try and prop up the basket-case GTR operation, but the passengers forking out thousands of pounds a year for Britain's worst rail service won't buy it. GTR should be stripped of the franchise with the whole lot taken into public ownership."

– Mick Cash, RMT general secretary

What does Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), Southern's parent company, think about the findings?

Responding to the Gibb Report, Charles Horton, GTR's Chief Executive, said:

We are grateful to Chris Gibb for his thorough review of the challenges GTR has to face on the Southern network. It is the most congested railway in the UK with passenger journeys doubling in just 12 years.

As he rightly identifies, we took over long-standing problems and a very challenging franchise with unreliable infrastructure and a very tight timetable. He also notes, 'the RMT and ASLEF leadership... are the primary cause for the system... to fail'. The only way to address the capacity problem is to modernise infrastructure, trains, systems and working practices. We urge our trade unions to play their part by working with us on the modernisation of working practices and have assured them that there will be no job losses. We have in fact increased staff providing customer service.

Some of the changes he recommends have already been implemented, such as the provision of an additional £300m of infrastructure investment and allowing increased engineering hours on the Brighton Mainline, whilst others are currently being considered by the Government, Network Rail and ourselves. Performance on Southern has improved for six consecutive months since this report was written. Things are moving in the right direction, and we believe they will continue to do so as our investment and modernisation programme bears further fruit."

– Charles Horton, Chief Executive Officer, Govia Thameslink Railway