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Friday 23rd
posted by Steve Sweeney in Britain

THE government was accused yesterday of ignoring damning new evidence which exposes the extent of Govia Thameslink Railway’s (GTR) failure.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan blasted the train operator after figures revealed that only 62 per cent of its trains arrived on time in the last five-week period — the worst figures for any company in over a decade.

On GTR’s troubled Southern routes, performance was even worse, with a dismal 56 per cent of services on time.

Mr Khan urged ministers to “stop burying their heads in the sand and ignoring the evidence” and demanded that Govia be “stripped of the Southern franchise.”

The figures from Govia’s Public Performance Measure (PPM) cover Gatwick Express, Thameslink and Great Northern services as well as Southern.

Performance on GTR services has been in steady decline for the past five years, according to the report, with fewer trains arriving at their destination on time each year.

GTR chief executive Charles Horton has written to drivers claiming that the company will never be able to reach an agreement with rail unions to resolve a long-running dispute over the introduction of driver-only operation trains.

However, Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan hit back, saying: “This letter does nothing to address the substantive issues — and our serious concerns about passenger safety — but merely restates the company’s entrenched position.”

He charged that Southern “cares more about profit than it does about the safety of passengers.”

The beleaguered train operator even caused disruption for road users this week, when a lorry transporting a Southern carriage blocked a busy crossing in Crystal Palace causing tailbacks on Wednesday evening.

And bookmakers Paddy Power are taking bets on the cancellation of trains on Christmas Eve, offering odds of 5/1 as an insurance policy for customers.

Mr Khan also reiterated his call for Transport for London (TfL) to be given temporary control of trains on GTR’s routes, insisting: “Govia Thameslink are not fit to run rail services around London.”

He said TfL would provide “a more reliable, frequent and affordable service,” but also urged unions to call off their strike action.