MINUTES of the meeting held on 13th October, 2016:
Introductions and Apologies
Present: Charles Martin (Chair) Tony Pattison (minutes), Jerome Pacatte (Head of Customer Service Manager, Thameslink), Colin Quemby, Shirley Quemby, Cllr Richard Marston, Joanna Shrimpton, Ann Teather, Bernard Crocker , Andy Brown, Rod Brown
1. Apologies: Nkulu Phiri, Juliet Chaplin, Eric Keighley, Geoff Cox
2. Minutes of meeting held 14th June, 2016 and Matters Arising
In the third paragraph of item 3, the sentence on the dwell time of the trains was corrected to “The new 700s will have an improved average waiting time (dwell time) at train stations of 42 seconds in 2018.” There were no matters arising.
3. Southern Issues combined with Thameslink Issues
Jerome Pacatte outlined progress on the dispute between the Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT) and Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR).
He listed the imminent strike days and reported that a number of offers had been made but the RMT had been unwilling to change. The RMT’s position was that dispensing with guards and letting the drivers operate the doors was unsafe.
Jerome said that 40% of trains were already driver-only-operated (DOO). The GTR offer to the RMT included: no redundancies; no reduction in salary; no relocation of staff; guaranteed above-inflation pay rises; where there is currently a guard on-board, the train will normally have a supervisor in future.
All conductors/guards were required to sign the new contract to start on 1st January 2017. A £2,000 bonus was being offered to all guards who were willing to sign. Jerome reported that a substantial number had already signed.
Rod Brown asked if the proposal to change the role of the guards was in the franchise. Jerome replied that it was. Rod added that members of the previous Coalition Government must have known that this proposal was included in the terms of the franchise.
Jerome replied that the Department for Transport (DfT) want DOO implemented nationally.
Joanna Shrimpton said that she felt that it was not really safe for DOO on a 12-car train if anything happens and Jerome assured her there are two cameras per carriage.
Ann Teather asked what would happen if there was a head-on smash with two DOO trains.
Bernard Crocker said that the passengers were being the pawns in this dispute. He asked if there could be a similar resolution to the dispute as there was in Scotland.
Jerome said that GTR’s objective was not to make money but to improve the service. The Scottish agreement had brought their practices into line with those currently operated on Southern. He reported that around 400 services a day had been cancelled in the Summer but in the Autumn GTR had re-introduced around 200.
Joanna Shrimpton said that trains were often late because of other problems and sometimes the service was worse than on a strike day.
Jerome said that the number of infrastructure incidents was not worse, but the current impact of them was worse, due to the ongoing work at London Bridge. He said it was like reducing the number of lanes on the M25 motorway from 5 to 3 but still expecting the same volume of traffic to use it.
He added that there were teething problems with the new Thameslink Class 700 trains which were, at present, unreliable. Trains are computers on wheels for which updates have to be done. Introduction on the Wimbledon Loop had been delayed as had further deployment on the Brighton main line.
Bernard Crocker said that the maximum capacity of 1750 passengers on the new trains was a lot for one driver. Jerome said there are communication links.
Colin Quemby asked if the number of train drivers recruited was going up. Jerome replied that it was.
Charles Martin and Rod Brown highlighted problems with connections at stations with different services.
Jerome said that there was a consultation on the 2018 timetable, running till December 8. He suggested that replies through Sutton Rail Users’ Forum might be more effective than individual replies. Charles has written his observations (see attached).
Charles added that one of his main wishes was for timetables advertising 4 trains per hour to be really that, not two running close together and almost half an hour wait for the next one.
Rod Brown suggested all Thameslink trains running via Mitcham Junction to Sutton terminate there and all trains round the loop via Wimbledon continue to/from London Bridge.
Charles said that the connections with London Overground and Southern trains at West Croydon used to be good. Now they were definitely not, some having become a 20 minute wait.
Colin Quemby suggested more use of the Dorking-Horsham line to give a direct service to the South Coast and to act as an avoiding line for the Brighton route when necessary.
It was agreed that SRUF should prepare a formal response to the consultation.
Jerome said that every GTR station with more than 1m passengers a year will be staffed from first to last train.
He added that, following RMT and TSSA agreement, a six month trial running with station hosts had been agreed at 8 stations and if all three parties were happy they would be implemented. The stations included: Battersea Park, Balham, Queens Road Peckham and City Thameslink.
Joanna Shrimpton said that she was not happy with the idea of station hosts replacing manned ticket offices.
4. South West Trains
Colin Quemby and Richard Marston reported that they attended the SWT stakeholders meeting. The franchise is expected to be extended to June, 2017 with an announcement of the new franchise holder being made in February.
Rod Brown asked about Crossrail 2 and said that it would be a good idea if trains turned not at Wimbledon but went round the Loop.
5. Date of next meeting
Thursday, 19th January 2017 at 7.00 pm in Meeting Room 5, Civic Offices, Sutton.