Southern, the company behind the Train of Shame – the 7.29am service from Brighton to Victoria which was late every day last year – was forced to apologise to customers yesterday following a week of severe delays.
“We understand our passengers’ frustration and apologise for the levels of performance they are currently experiencing,” said David Scorey, Southern’s deputy managing director. The comments came following a flurry of angry tweets and a statement by shadow secretary Chuka Umunna, who wrote to transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin asking him to investigate whether Southern Rail was in breach of the terms of its franchise. Umunna reiterated a suggestion by Lord Adonis that more suburban franchises should be controlled by TfL, following the example of the Overground network.
“Southern’s services have become a joke, are causing immense disruption to my constituents and are holding back business,” he said. “A unified south London transport network which is reliable, provides more trains per hour and better connectivity across London seems at the moment to be the only viable long-term option to meet the capacity challenge facing Londoners.”
While McLoughlin has yet to respond to Umunna’s letter, a spokesperson for the conservatives told City A.M. it was something the Prime Minister had already touched on: “Earlier this week the prime minister made clear that rail operators risk losing their franchise if they fail to run proper services.”