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TSSA call for COBRA to meet to discuss rail timetable crisis as a national emergency

20 July 2018

TSSA is calling on the government to declare the timetabling crisis at Govia Thameslink (GTR) a national emergency and wants the biggest rail breakdown in peacetime history made a matter for the government's COBRA committee.

TSSA warns the latest new timetable introduced by GTR this week - their third since May 20 - is doing nothing to improve services nor is it it alleviating the misery of GTR's beleaguered passengers and staff.

A current TSSA survey of our GTR members station-eye view of the crisis is reveals GTR have now lost the confidence of the station staff to be able to resolve the timetable crisis. Members are also reporting stations are no longer safe work-spaces as passenger anger at the unreliability of the service melds into staff abuse.

Nearly all our GTR station staff - 94pc - have experienced passenger abuse as a result of frustrations brought on by cancelled trains and the new, unclear and unreliable schedules.

And a whopping 90pc of our station passenger service staff who have responded so far are reporting that their jobs have become more difficult and their anxiety at work has increased since the new time table changes came into effect.

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes proposes an immediate return to the pre-May 20 timetable as an interim solution but wants Theresa May to refer the rail crisis to the government’s emergency management COBRA committee.

TSSA has also taken the unusual interim step of referring the complaints to rail watchdog, Passenger Focus and to Her Majesty’s Railway Inspectorate whilst the survey remains live.

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes says, "The entirely bad management -made breakdown in services at GTR is nothing short of a national scandal, but it is also a national emergency. Passengers are stranded at stations and squashed into trains. Overcrowding of carriages and platforms have escalated to seriously dangerous proportions for all concerned. Too many stations are no longer safe for passengers or staff. And as workers can't make it to work so our economy is haemorrhaging money.

"Meanwhile The Department for Transport has no grip on the situation and given people are failing to be transported on their public rail service, it is hard to see how the DfT is fit for purpose. Transport Minister Chris Grayling has failed to respond to parliamentary demands for an answers to the crisis this week. He's missing in action whilst passengers across the South East are no longer commuting but going into rail combat each day. And our staff our amongst their combat targets.
"This week's new timetable changes have made no difference to the trauma facing passengers nor the abuse they are meting out in their frustration to staff. Our members are being turned into scapegoats for the company by over-heated staff but our survey shows GTR is giving little or no support to passenger-facing staff. No wonder staff are now reporting being embarrassed to represent the company and staff think there is no serious intent on the company to resolve the timetable issues. .

“The situation on station platforms and trains should now be escalated to a national emergency and frankly, COBRA itself should be meeting to deal with this situation, as the Tory Department of Transport and the Disastrous Transport Secretary Chris Grayling have shown themselves simply not fit for purpose in the face of the problem of this magnitude. Stripping GTR of this franchise at once and bring it back into public ownership as the Government recently did with Virgin East Coast is the most viable solution.”

“GTR and the DfT have allowed the chaos at Southern to infect and contaminate the rest of GTR and together they are deliberate jeopardising the health, safety and wellbeing of staff, as well as passengers. And the economy of the south east now also very much at risk. Timetables and rail safety must now be made a COBRA issue.

“GTR needs to revert to the last timetable that everyone understood, their pre-May 20 one, which was at least viable. And Passenger Focus need to launch their own immediate inquiry into the situation that is risking the physical and mental health of staff and passengers alike as a matter of urgency. Our member’s survey still has two weeks left to run. But, our interim findings are already revealing a crisis in staff safety and staff morale that no union worth its salt and no government that cares about its economy can afford to ignore a day longer”
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TSSA's survey of GTR staff opinion of the ongoing timetable changes are showing
• Two thirds of staff admit to seeing incidents on the network that they consider unsafe, with several staff reporting feinting, overcrowding and overheating;
• Three quarters of staff responding feel less safe at work;
• A huge 94% say they have experienced increased levels of passenger frustration across the network since the new timetable came into force;
• 90% of staff say their job has become more difficult and more stressful;
• 30% of staff don’t feel they have safe, secure and appropriate rest facilities at work.
 

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