Gibb Report: Strike action was final straw for over-stressed Southern network

By Ben Jones

A REPORT into the poor performance of Southern in 2016 has finally been published.

The company is part of Thameslink Southern Great Northern (TSGN), the UK’s biggest rail contract.

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The report was prepared by Network Rail non-executive director and career railwayman Chris Gibb for the Department for Transport (DfT) between September and December last year.

London Victoria’s concourse during one of the strike days last December. PA IMAGES

It identifies high levels of staff sickness and industrial action by trades unions over the controversial issue of Driver Controlled Operation (DCO) as key factors in the collapse of the timetable.

Mr Gibb backs DfT and Govia Thameslink Rail (GTR) criticism of the strikes, calling trades union motives for the action ‘debatable’ and ‘difficult to comprehend’.

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However, the report also criticises Network Rail, DfT and GTR and highlights many other areas of the system that were already under great strain as Southern attempted to run too many trains on deteriorating, unreliable infrastructure with a complex timetable and overcrowded trains and stations.

Chris Gibb, the author of the critical report.

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Other contributing factors include the ongoing disruption caused by Thameslink upgrades and London Bridge redevelopment, introduction of new train fleets, organisational changes and a high turnover in management roles at Network Rail.

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