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French farce over late running rail uniforms

25 February 2015

"Oh Mr Porter, what shall I do, after six long months, I am still without a clue..... as to where my new uniform is."

Staff at Britain's newest and largest rail franchise have been waiting since September for their new uniforms because of a Whitehall mix up over who should pay the bill for them.
New staff have been  told by their bosses at GTR that they can wear their own clothes at stations and on trains because Whitehall cash to pay for new uniforms has not arrived on time.
Older staff from two of the four firms that were  merged to make up the largest franchise in the country - from Peterborough and Bedford in the north to Brighton and Portsmouth in the south - have been told to carry on wearing their old uniforms. (*)
But the DfT claims it is not responsible for the "second hand uniforms" tiff and is now busy checking out the contract with the new partly French state-owned franchise (**) to determine who is actually responsible for staff smartness at the former Thameslink and First Capital Connect firms.
Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA rail union, said "This farce highlights just how feather bedded these so called private franchises really are.
"Why on earth is a partly French state owned rail franchise expecting British taxpayers to pay for their staff uniforms?
"This is where the great Will Hay in "Oh Mr Porter!" meets French farce. We already have a situation whereby profits from English commuters paying the highest fares in Europe on this franchise are being exported to France to subsidise state controlled rail fares for commuters in Paris. Just how mad is that?
"The sooner we get rid of all these taxpayer funded private franchises the better.
"GTR have been in charge for six months and my members are still waiting for their uniforms.
"I bet their own Fat Controllers in charge have not had to wait so long for their perks.
"If they cannot get something as simple as this sorted out, what sort of message does this send out to passengers."
The new franchise will handle over 270 million passenger journeys a year when Southern and the Gatwick Express join in July to complete what will be the biggest franchise in the UK.
* The four firms that used to cover the South East were First Capital Connect, Thameslink, Southern and Gatwick Express. The two latter firms contracts expire in July.
** Keolis, owned by French state railways, has a 35% stake in GTR.

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