England

Southern rail dispute: Passengers pile pressure on bosses

Charles Horton at London Victoria Image copyright PA
Image caption Govia Thameslink CEO Charles Horton said passengers had expressed their frustration with Southern's service

Angry rail passengers piled pressure on the boss of Southern's parent company at a "meet the managers" session at London Victoria.

Travellers have endured months of disruption on routes between London and the south coast and the company has cut more than 300 trains from its schedule.

Govia Thameslink CEO, Charles Horton, apologised to affected passengers and said they had been "very honest".

Some people tweeted they could not get to the event because of delayed trains.

'Felt scared'

Charity worker Rona Hunnisett, 40, who commutes from Brighton to London said that when she asked for "a definitive time" when services would improve, she received "waffle and more evasion".

"I'm sick of the constant excuses and blame," she said.

She said she felt "physically scared" for the first time in 20 years of commuting on Monday during severe congestion at Brighton station.

"I pay them £4,000 a year for a service and I don't get it," she said.

IT contractor Navneet Jha, who commutes from South Croydon, said he was told by a Southern manager that "all the problems will go in a month".

"I highly doubt that," he added.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption Passengers tweeted that they could not get to the meeting because of rail delays

Mr Horton said passengers reflected their frustration with the service and recounted some of their bad experiences at the event.

The delays, cancellations and reduced timetable have resulted from staff shortages and a dispute between Southern and the RMT union about plans for drivers, rather than guards, to open and close carriage doors.

Mr Horton is already under pressure from MPs and met the new rail minister Paul Maynard to discuss the issues on Monday.

Mr Maynard has said the current level of service is unacceptable and the government will consider brokering talks between the two sides.

Southern said discussions at the session were mainly about the current situation and the revised timetable.

"Our performance is better than before it [new timetable] was introduced and it's giving our passengers more certainty about their train service, enabling them to plan their journeys with more confidence," a spokesman said.

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