Rail operator blames lack of train drivers for delays to services

MP Jonathan Djanogly,

MP Jonathan Djanogly, - Credit: Archant

A train company has accepted that its service has “not been good enough” after complaints from passengers about persistent delays and cancellations.

Govia, which runs the Great Northern rail service from London King’s Cross to Huntingdon and Peterborough, has blamed an increase in cancellations and delays during the summer months on a lack of train drivers.

Govia took over the service in September last year but the company has seen its public performance measure, the percentage of trains that arrive at their destination on time, drop from 87 per cent in 2014/15 to 84.1 per cent this year.

MP for Huntingdon, Jonathan Djanogly, contacted Govia officials for an explanation and was assured by the company that it had launched a recruitment drive to employ more drivers.

Govia’s stakeholder manager, Katherine Cox, said: “Due to the school summer holidays we are experiencing higher levels of holiday leave, as a company we are currently reliant on asking our drivers to work rest days due not having enough drivers to carry out day-to-day operations.

“The amount of rest day working we need fluctuates, depending on factors such as labour turnover and sickness levels as well as covering for holiday leave and training. “We know that this is not good enough for our passengers and have made a commitment to reduce to a minimum our dependence on drivers working rest days so that we can deliver a more consistent service for our passengers.”

Ms Cox said the company was working “flat out” to recruit new drivers but added that it takes “over a year” to train a candidate.

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Mr Djanogly said: “Cancelling trains between London and Huntingdon at peak times is never convenient and is not an acceptable level of service from Great Northern. “However, I am somewhat reassured that Great Northern have accepted that relying on drivers to work on their rest days is unsustainable and that they are prioritising the recruitment and training of new train drivers.”