A shortage of Southern drivers has led to further frustrations this week for commuters from Reigate.
Many morning peak services were cancelled from the station today (Tuesday) and yesterday, meaning London travellers had to rely on GWR services to Redhill or Dorking, and change there.
A spokesperson for Southern said this afternoon:
“We apologise to passengers for the train cancellations on the Reigate line. These services were cancelled for the last two mornings as there was no driver available to cover them. We are in the midst of the UK’s biggest driver recruitment programme to increase our driver numbers, to reduce our reliance on overtime, and there are new drivers coming through their training every month.”
The spokesperson also said that Reigate to Redhill services are not now dependent on a second crew member:
“The capability for trains from Redhill to Reigate to run with the driver in sole control of the train was confirmed at the end of October. We are therefore in a position that should there be no second member of staff available, and cancelling the service would lead to disruption, we could run without one. However, as on board supervisors can work more flexibly across routes there is less likelihood that we will need to do this.”
Stephen Trigg, Chairperson of Reigate, Redhill & District Rail Users’ Association has been taking up the plight of Reigate commuters with Govia Thameslink, operators of Southern, including in e-mail exchanges over recent weeks. Among his calls, he has asked for better contingency planning from the operator, and has made a number of suggestions about managing staffing. In an e-mail this morning he said:
“[There is] no sense of action plan or urgency to deal with an appalling situation that has been a problem for several months now. We pay our taxes and fares for you to provide train services and yet you fail consistently.”
On Monday evening, returning commuters were faced with a separate problem caused by a trespasser on the line at Norwood Junction, closing all lines in the area for a period.