Beleaguered customers of cancelled and delayed Govia Thameslink Railway trains are in line for ‘millions’ of pounds worth of compensation after this year’s shambolic timetable changes.
The FTSE 250 listed operator of the train companies, Go-Ahead, confirmed it will be writing to the tens of thousands of customers affected by the bungled changes, which led to a spate of cancellations, delays and overcrowded trains this summer.
Go-Ahead blamed the chaos on ‘collective industry failures’ around how the new timetables were introduced in May, but admitted the performance of its Thameslink line was ‘below certain contractual thresholds.’
Compensation: Govia Thameslink Railway train customers are in line for ‘millions’ of pounds worth of compensation
David Brown, Go-Ahead’s chief executive, told the Press Association the industry was left ‘mortified’ by this year’s blunders. The group said it could be fined by the government or have its contracts ended.
In addition to an existing offer of payments to season ticket holders, Thameslink and Great Northern announced at the end of last month that regular travellers, including part-time workers who do not have a season ticket, could also be eligible for compensation.
Go-Ahead insisted it has been proactively contacting those affected on its Thameslink services to offer compensation, with 30,000 customers contacted since the beginning of last week alone.
Govia Thameslink Railway consists of Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and the Gatwick Express.
On 20 May the time of every single Thameslink and Southern train changed. Chaos ensued and interim timetables have now been introduced in an attempt to alleviate the problems.
Mr Brown said the group was providing a ‘much improved train service’ since the interim timetables were introduced in mid-July, and is ‘confident’ of having the full changes in place by 9 December.
Go-Ahead’s share price was up over 16 per cent in early morning trading and is currently up 6.97 per cent or 114.00p to 1,749.00p.
Go-Ahead, which also runs the Great Northern and Southeastern franchises, saw its annual pre-tax profits rise 6.5 per cent to £145.7million.
All change: On 20 May every single train time on Southern Railway lines changed
Underlying operating profits fell 9.8 per cent to £135.9million, while revenues slipped 0.6 per cent to £3.5billion.
Go-Ahead’s rail division saw operating profits fall 25.7 per cent to £44.5million, largely due to the recent loss of the London Midland franchise.
Its bus arm delivered a slight rise in underlying earnings to £91.4million against £90.7million the year before.
The group’s Southeastern contract expires next March and has been put out to tender, but Go-Ahead is one of the short-listed bidders for the service.
Go-Ahead said it expected a ‘robust’ performance over the new financial year.
Network: Govia Thameslink Railway consists of Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and the Gatwick Express