I have to say much of what I have read on the subject places the
blame firmly at the DfT. They appear to be so prescriptive on
routes, rolling stock and so forth that there is little scope for
However, this is something I came across elsewhere. This article,
posted on the Southern Electric Groups Facebook page, but from a
seemingly unknown source, seems to give a deeper background than
others Ive read:
The following has been published elsewhere on the web as an
explanation of the problems GTR are suffering (edited slightly
and believed to have been written by an insider):
Previously the large traincrew depot at Bedford covered a lot of
Sutton loop work. The idea of the future - that traincrew depots
are opened at the ends of service groups and drive only those
routes, mean that new traincrew depots at Luton and St Albans
opened in May.
Bedford reduced in size and Luton and St Albans were filled with
either volunteers or the less senior drivers forced to move. St
Albans, being the furthest away from Bedford, has fewer
volunteers than Luton, and more 'less senior'. Because of
previous delays in training and a backlog of trainees, St Albans
it seems, has a roster populated by a fair number of trainees
(who aren't yet qualified or productive). Since it opened in
May, St Albans is the exclusive depot for Sutton loop duties.
The duties can be cross-covered by other depots by spare or rest
day work drivers, but it evidently isn't enough at present.
Half of Luton depot should be doing Rainham duties but many
aren't trained on the route yet. Some Bedford drivers haven't
been trained on new London Bridge layout, which leads us to....
2. Route knowledge is a problem in that not many Brighton drivers
know the new layout at London Bridge High Level platforms and
their approaches. The same goes for Horsham drivers, but you can
add the Core as well that most don't sign, although some
(together with some Brighton drivers) were sent to quickly learn
St Pancras to Finsbury Park (and Kings Cross). They all need
route conducting for the bits they don't know with associated
knock on delays if trains get cancelled or delayed. This has been
evident at Finsbury Park.
3. The duties won't be the same each day for an individual
driver. For a start the duties are different lengths (between 6
hours and 9 hours 54 minutes), so are placed in a rota called a
'link' and are worked in rotation by drivers, with different rest
days each week. This makes an 'average week' of 35 hours, with
some being less and some being more.
Similarly to the Sutton loop mentioned above - on the GN, some
Cambridge to Kings Cross stopping services are now run by Welwyn
Garden City traincrew depot, which isn't actually in existence
yet, but are separate rotas (links) at Kings Cross and Hitchin
until the new depot buildings are constructed. There's the same
problem here in that any vacancies or trainees will be placed in
these links as the drivers with the most seniority will remain at
Kings Cross or Hitchin. Also, whereas all of Cambridge and
Peterborough are trained on 700s, there are many at Kings Cross
both in the 'remaining at Kings Cross link' and in 'Welwyn link',
and also the Welwyn link at Hitchin who require traction training
Adding complication every train booked to go via the Core is now
dealt with by Thameslink SDC (Service Delivery Centre) at Three
Bridges, with the trains booked to go to Kings Cross (that's
booked not diverted) and Moorgate still being dealt with by Great
Northern SDC at Kings Cross and the extra phone calls, liaising,
and added complications of left hand and right hand having to
know what each are doing.
It remains to be seen whether phase two of transferring all the
remaining GN services to come under Thameslink SDC, with the
closure of Kings Cross SDC in the coming weeks, will make things
better or worse.
Please note this was originally written on a Rail Forum and was
then sent to SEG from an appearance on the Southern Email Group
on 9 June so I cannot prove the veracity of the content.
Chris J Dixon Nottingham
'48/33 M B+ G++ A L(-) I S-- CH0(--)(p) Ar- T+ H0 ?Q
Plant amazing Acers.