England

Thameslink and Great Northern apologise in newspaper ad for 'ongoing problems'

GTR apology
Image caption The letter said the company apologises "sincerely and unreservedly"

A trouble-hit rail operator has taken out a half-page newspaper advert to offer passengers a "sincere apology" for its "ongoing problems".

Passengers on Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) trains have endured more than a month of disruption following the introduction of new timetables in May.

In the advert the firm said the service on Thameslink and Great Northern routes "has not been good enough".

The RMT Union called it "patronising nonsense".

'Significant delays'

GTR, which oversees Thameslink and Great Northern routes, changed the time of every train on its timetable on 20 May, which saw some services withdrawn and further cancellations without any warning.

In the advert, placed in the Metro commuter newspaper in partnership with Network Rail, GTR acknowledged it "failed to launch new services as planned" which has resulted in "significant delays, cancellations and disruption".

The letter stated: "We apologise sincerely and unreservedly for the impact this has had on your daily lives."

Image copyright Leam G Webb
Image caption Delays and cancellations are the norm

An interim timetable introduced on 4 June to improve performance saw about 6% of daily services removed, but reliability has continued to struggle.

A third train timetable in two months - which will be introduced on 15 July - will be "more dependable" and prioritise peak trains to give "more certainty to plan your journeys to and from work", the advert pledged.

Govia Thameslink's ongoing problems

On Sunday it was reported that GTR could be about to lose its contract and a government source told the BBC it was "drinking in the last chance saloon".

GTR chief operating officer Nick Brown has written to staff stating that "nothing has changed" and the company is "continuing to work within the terms of our contract".

Referring to both the letter and the advert, the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) accused GTR of "playing for time".

General secretary Mick Cash said: "GTR have taken the blame game to a whole new level in this barrage of propaganda which takes their passengers and staff for a bunch of mugs who can be fobbed off with any old garbage.

"It is unbelievable that they think they can get away with this patronising nonsense."

St Albans commuter Matthew Faulkner said "no more excuses, give us the service we pay for, you're not running at a loss but you are affecting people's pay, careers and lives", while another, Ali Hall, said "I'll believe it when I see it!".

Image copyright Emily Perry
Image caption Passengers have described the service as "diabolical"

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