First Capital Connect given weekend ultimatum to get services back on track
BELEAGUERED rail operator First Capital Connect (FCC) has been given until the weekend to get its services back on track by the Government. If they fail to do so, Transport Secretary Lord Andrew Adonis has said that the company will face the consequences,
BELEAGUERED rail operator First Capital Connect (FCC) has been given until the weekend to get its services back on track by the Government.
If they fail to do so, Transport Secretary Lord Andrew Adonis has said that the company will face the consequences, including the possibility of being stripped of its franchise.
He told a national newspaper that he will consider all the options available to him if the company fails to return to normal by the weekend.
Last week, the Herts Advertiser revealed that there were growing calls from furious commuters for FCC to lose its franchise due to the chaos on the line in recent months.
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A petition, which calls for the action, now has more than 4,000 signatures and rail union RMT today (Thursday) issued another plea to the Government to revoke the franchise.
Commuters have faced months of delays and cancellations due to a dispute with drivers over pay, which resulted in them refusing to work overtime or on rest days and a reduced timetable being introduced.
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The recent sub-zero temperatures also caused numerous failures on the tracks and damage to the trains, some of which is still awaiting repair.
But the drivers' dispute was resolved last week when union Aslef announced the result of a ballot which saw 70 per cent of drivers accept a revised pay deal.
FCC then said that a full service would resume by the start of this week - but cancellations and delays have continued.
A spokesperson told the Herts Advertiser earlier this week that this was down to power failures on the line which Network Rail were working to repair, as well as a shortage of trains due to the damaged caused by the snow and ice.
But RMT general secretary Bob Crow believes the line should be brought back under public ownership.
He said: "FCC continue to operate an under-staffed and under-resourced service while the company soaks up annual taxpayer subsidies of �140 million and rakes in operating profits of more than �90 million. They are a disgrace and they should be stripped on the franchise.
He added: "Yesterday, Lord Adonis said he was going to get tough with failing franchise holders. Tomorrow he has a chance to prove it by sacking FCC and taking the Thameslink service back into public ownership.