First Capital Connect strike - commuters hit back at rail chaos

PUBLISHED: 15:28 12 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:39 06 May 2010

ANGRY commuters have hit back at First Capital Connect over the rail chaos which has consumed its services today. With passengers facing cancellations of around 50 per cent of the normal timetable, there has been misery throughout the day, especially duri

ANGRY commuters have hit back at First Capital Connect over the rail chaos which has consumed its services today.

With passengers facing cancellations of around 50 per cent of the normal timetable, there has been misery throughout the day, especially during the peak morning rush hour, with further problems set to continue into the evening.

The Herts Advertiser, which originally broke the story about the unofficial industrial action being taken by drivers two weeks ago, has been inundated with comments from disgruntled FCC customers.

Commuter Philip Nalpanis said: "This morning, even trains shown in their published reduced timetable were being cancelled. The train I did eventually catch was announced as eight coaches but was actually four, so it is even worse than already reported.

"And no-one has yet reported what pay rise ASLEF are seeking or even prepared to negotiate on, other than that they consider the offer of inflation + 3% for next year as 'derisory', which I think most people would consider a very good offer in the current economic climate."

David Johnson, from Harpenden, said: "The current disruption on the Thameslink route is actually far worse than suggested by the emergency timetable, which has cut 50 per cent of all services.

"This morning I arrived at Harpenden station just in time to see the southbound 0804 pull out. The 0809 - which I was aiming for - and 0820 trains, which appear in the emergency timetable, were both cancelled. All due to 'no member of staff being available'. The next train, the 0826, did not appear until 0850: thus a totally unacceptable gap of 46 minutes between trains at a peak time.

"To exacerbate matters, the 0804 was formed of four coaches, presumably due to the usual excuse of lack of serviceable stock, yet two empty eight coach trains thundered through Harpenden between 0810 and 0845. Clearly, two available members of staff and plenty of serviceable stock there! Why could not these trains have formed the 0809 and 0820 services?

"I now read that the 50 per cent timetable reduction is because drivers are refusing to work overtime and rest days. This suggests that First Capital Connect is seriously under-staffed: if 50 per cent of their driver resource comes from overtime and rest day working, there is no other possible conclusion."

Katie Bovington, aged 22, from St Albans, works in Victoria, London, said: “I understand why they are asking for a pay rise because of all the extra hours they are putting in. The train company makes so much profit – because the fares are so ridiculous and go up every year – so why shouldn’t the fat controllers’ wages go up too?”

Matthew and Jacqlyn Taylor of Riverside Road, St Albans, said: "In First Capital Connect’s own Passenger Charter, they claim they will offer compensation over and above the normal Delay Repay if there is a sustained period of disruption.

"It says 'Should customers on any of our routes experience a sustained period of poor punctuality on peak services we will consider compensating season tickets holders over and above the arrangements outlined.'

"As this claim is hidden away in their Passenger Charter, many passengers may not be aware of this and it would help if awareness of this element of their Passenger Charter was raised as much as possible to encourage as many people as possible to press FCC for compensation as they should now be entitled to it without having the undue form filling exercise that is their Delay Repay scheme, resulting in even more of commuters’ time being wasted and FCC trying to avoid paying you anything.

"Incidentally, we have tried once on this about a week ago and didn’t get very far, however, we are going to try again, if they do not respond satisfactorily (i.e. give us compensation) then we will be taking as far as we can starting with passenger groups like Passenger Focus and London TravelWatch."

In response to the disruption, First Capital Connect has issued the following statement: "There is a significantly reduced service on our Thameslink route because some drivers are not working rest days and overtime. This situation started when pay talks began with our drivers. We are disappointed that the union Aslef has now decided to ballot its members for strike action and apologise to customers for the continued disruption.

"We have made what we believe to be a fair offer given the current economic climate and unprecedented duration of the recession."

The offer is a two-year package and includes:

- no increase for the first year from April 2009;

- a minimum increase of 3% for the second year starting April 2010;

- a lump sum payment of £200 in April and other benefits;

The statement added: "As pay talks have continued, we have been experiencing high levels of cancellations particularly on the Thameslink route. We are working to provide the best possible timetable each day and limit the disruption caused. Talks will continue and we hope for a speedy resolution."

LATEST CANCELLATIONS ANNOUNCED BY FCC:

17:38 Kentish Town to Three Bridges due 18:55

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

16:13 St Albans City to Sutton Surrey due 17:37

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

17:18 St Albans City to Sutton Surrey due 18:39

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

18:02 St Albans City to Sutton Surrey due 19:39

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

14:44 Luton to Sutton Surrey due 16:35

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

15:44 Luton to Sutton Surrey due 17:39

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

16:44 Luton to Sutton Surrey due 18:31

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

17:34 Bedford to Brighton due 20:00

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

18:10 Bedford to Brighton due 20:30

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

21:50 Bedford to St Pancras International due 22:52

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

18:02 Luton to Sutton Surrey due 19:36

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

18:42 Bedford to Brighton due 20:58

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

19:16 St Albans City to Sutton Surrey due 20:36

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

18:30 Bedford to Sutton Surrey due 20:35

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

13:04 Brighton to Bedford due 15:20

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

13:34 Brighton to Bedford due 15:50

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

14:04 Brighton to Bedford due 16:20

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

13:37 Sutton Surrey to Luton due 15:30

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

14:34 Brighton to Bedford due 16:50

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

16:18 Elephant & Castle to Bedford due 17:28

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

15:04 Brighton to Bedford due 17:20

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

15:34 Brighton to Bedford due 17:58

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

17:00 Elephant & Castle to St Albans City due 17:49

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

14:36 Sutton Surrey to St Albans City due 15:57

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

14:37 Sutton Surrey to Luton due 16:30

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

15:37 Sutton Surrey to St Albans City due 17:15

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

15:36 Sutton Surrey to St Albans City due 16:59

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

16:36 Sutton Surrey to Bedford due 18:24

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

18:04 Brighton to Bedford due 20:28

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

(Message Received: 03:35:34 12/11/2009)

18:34 Brighton to Bedford due 20:50

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

19:34 Brighton to Bedford due 21:50

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

17:24 Brighton to Bedford due 19:58

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

18:32 Sutton Surrey to Bedford due 20:40

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

19:27 Three Bridges to Bedford due 21:20

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

17:38 Sutton Surrey to Luton due 19:34

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

18:40 Sutton Surrey to Luton due 20:30

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

19:37 Sutton Surrey to Luton due 21:30

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

19:40 Sutton Surrey to St Albans City due 20:59

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

23:04 St Pancras International to Bedford due 00:06

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

23:34 St Pancras International to Bedford due 00:36

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

20:04 Brighton to Bedford due 22:21

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

20:34 Brighton to Bedford due 22:50

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

20:37 Sutton Surrey to Luton due 22:30

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

20:40 Sutton Surrey to St Albans City due 21:59

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

16:04 Brighton to London Bridge due 17:02

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

18:22 Elephant & Castle to Bedford due 19:38

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

17:16 Elephant & Castle to Bedford due 18:28

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

17:48 Elephant & Castle to Bedford due 18:58

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

16:22 Brighton to Bedford due 18:48

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

17:58 Elephant & Castle to Luton due 19:05

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

19:32 Moorgate to Hertford North due 20:19

This train will be reinstated.This is following a member of train crew being unavailable.

16:37 Sutton Surrey to Luton due 18:32

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

17:09 Brighton to London Bridge due 18:17

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

17:40 Sutton Surrey to St Albans City due 19:05

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

18:09 Elephant & Castle to Bedford due 19:34

This train will be cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

18:42 London Bridge to Brighton due 19:52

This train has been cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

15:56 Kentish Town to Sevenoaks due 17:12

This train has been terminated at London Blackfriars.It will no longer call at: Elephant & Castle, Denmark Hill, Peckham Rye, Nunhead, Crofton Park, Catford, Bellingham, Beckenham Hill, Ravensbourne, Shortlands, Bromley South, Bickley, St Mary Cray, Swanley, Eynsford, Shoreham Kent, Otford, Bat & Ball and Sevenoaks.This is due to waiting for a train crew member.

13:04 Brighton to Bedford due 15:20

This train has been cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

13:34 Brighton to Bedford due 15:50

This train has been cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

13:37 Sutton Surrey to Luton due 15:30

This train has been cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

13:07 Brighton to Bedford due 15:36

This train has been revised.It will call additionally at: Kentish Town, West Hampstead Thameslink, Cricklewood, Hendon, Mill Hill Broadway, Elstree & Borehamwood and Radlett.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

14:04 Brighton to Bedford due 16:20

This train has been cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

19:40 Sutton Surrey to St Albans City due 20:59

This train has been cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

13:56 Kentish Town to Sevenoaks due 15:12

This train has been cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

14:34 Brighton to Bedford due 16:50

This train has been cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

14:36 Sutton Surrey to St Albans City due 15:57

This train has been cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

14:37 Sutton Surrey to Luton due 16:30

This train has been cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

17:40 London Kings Cross to Peterborough due 18:50

This train will be formed of 8 coaches instead of 12.This is due to an earlier broken down train.

15:04 Brighton to Bedford due 17:20

This train has been cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

15:26 Kentish Town to Sevenoaks due 16:42

This train has been cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

17:05 Sevenoaks to Bedford due 19:20

This train has been cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

15:34 Brighton to Bedford due 17:58

This train has been cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

15:36 Sutton Surrey to St Albans City due 16:59

This train has been cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

15:37 Sutton Surrey to St Albans City due 17:15

This train has been cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

16:22 Bedford to Gillingham Kent due 18:36

This train has been cancelled.This is due to a member of train crew being unavailable.

17:12 Sutton Surrey to Bedford due 19:12

This train has been revised. It will call additionally at: Kentish Town, West Hampstead Thameslink, Cricklewood, Hendon, Mill Hill Broadway, Elstree & Borehamwood, Radlett, Harpenden, Luton Airport Parkway and Harlington.This is due to train crew having been unavailable earlier.

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