Stop blaming Govia for rail dispute

I worked on the South Central division of The Southern Region of British Rail which included the current lines so badly affected by this dispute.

I started my working life at the age of 15, until I took early retirement in 1995 (the first year of privatisation).

I was a driver and subsequently became a train crew manager, so I know a bit about crewing of trains and the running of a train service.

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Your campaign to strip Govia of this Sussex franchise shows a total lack of understanding of the problem. You assume that because the train service is so abysmal that it must be the fault of management.

The unions want re-nationalisation, they hate privatisation. This dispute is being played out with that hope in mind. Govia have stated publicly that there will be no redundancy, it’s a simple case of a change of job responsibilities. All this talk of the safety of the travelling public is a “smokescreen”. We have had Driver Only Operation since before I retired. No company can deliver a service with the current level of staff sickness, which for some reason has doubled since the dispute began. It will be interesting to see if the levels of sickness remain the same once this is over, or will there be a sudden improvement?

I notice that you and others are calling for Govia to lose the franchise. Pardon me for asking, but who would you put in their place? There is not another company running any of our railways who would do any better, and few would want the poison chalice even if offered.

I fully sympathise with the travelling public. It was bad enough back in 1995 when I retired, and was part of the reason I left.

Stop blaming Govia and look a bit further than your nose.

Michael Bassett

Durrington Hill


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