It has not been a good few weeks for users of the services operated by Southern Railway. Cancellations have rocketed, partially due to an "unprecedented level of staff sickness" according to the company. . Cynics would say that this simply a way of improving performance by massaging figures, rather like how police forces claimed a reduction in crime by changing the way some offences were recorded.
Commuters in the region are fed up. Croydon MP Chris Philip has said Go-
For West Midlands rail passengers, the saga sounds awfully familiar. London Midland cancelled scores of services in 2012 following staff shortages caused by sickness and drivers leaving the company for pastures new. An MP called the cancellations "unacceptable". Did London Midland lose its franchise?
Maybe if the department was a bit more ruthless and stripped a TOC or two of its franchise if they failed to deliver, it might focus some minds in the industry to deliver a service that is better for the passenger, and better value for the taxpayer.
For West Midlands passengers, the devolution of services backed with a strong authority expecting high performance cannot come soon enough.
1 June 2016
Southern Rail Misery