Local Commuters Face Rail Chaos

November 9, 2009 2:47 PM

Local MP Tom Brake and Sutton Council have come together to demand action from First Capital Connect (FCC) train operator after commuters in Sutton faced delays and cancellations last week on FCC'S Train Services.

Many of the people who had their journeys disrupted have now contacted local MP Tom Brake. One First Capital Connect customer told Tom, 'They hike our tickets up, and then give us an appalling service. It is an utter disgrace - either they hire and retain enough train drivers or they hand the franchise over. I could have ended up stranded in London on Saturday.'

Speaking about the problems people are experiencing Tom said, 'I understand that people are angry and frustrated at having their journeys to and from work disrupted. First Capital Connect are providing the people of Carshalton with a sub standard service that is impacting upon their daily lives.'

Tom continued, 'I have contacted First Capital Connect about this issue and they have told me that this problem is being caused by a lack of drivers. Up until now it appears that they have been reliant on drivers doing overtime to cover their staff shortage which is clearly not the right way to deal with this issue.'

'After a dispute about pay, many drivers have now decided not to work overtime, which has left First Capital Connect with this shortage.'

Sutton Council's Executive Member for Transport, Cllr Colin Hall added, 'This level of service is simply not acceptable for residents in Sutton who rely on trains to be available and on time.

'I will be raising the wholly inadequate approach by First Capital Connect at the next Public Transport Liaison Group and along with Tom I will be speaking to them direct to ask for an explanation.'

The Union which represents First Capital Connect train drivers, ASLEF have said that many drivers are unhappy with a recent offer of a 0% pay rise especially after considerable goodwill has been shown on their part during the implementation of new services. This has led to some drivers now not deciding to work additional hours.

First Capital Connect have said of the current situation, 'At the present time, while we continue to train drivers for our new trains, we rely on drivers to work an element of overtime and rest days to cover the service. A combination of factors has meant that we have not had adequate driver availability and this had led to a significant number of cancellations. This is not official or unofficial industrial action. We have been working hard to ensure we operate with as little disruption as possible and apologise for any inconvenience caused. We are monitoring this situation very closely to limit disruption and ensure we can provide the best possible timetable for our customers on each day. The website is regularly updated and customers are advised to check this for further information.

Tom has now written to the Chief Executive of First Capital Connect to ask what action is being taken to resolve the problem of driver shortages and to lessen the impact this is having on the service. He has also called on the Railway Ombudsman, The Office of Rail Regulation to investigate the matter

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