Southern trains: Chris Gibb to sort out mess
Veteran rail executive, Chris Gibb, is to head a trouble-shooting team tasked with sorting out the endemic performance problems currently afflicting Southern trains.
A DfT spokesman informed 21CR that the £20m funding made available on Thursday by the new transport secretary, Chris Grayling, has been reallocated from Network Rail’s budget (so is not ‘new money’ and will be probably drawn from other projects).
Grayling said: “I want the Southern network to be run by a team of people who work together to make sure passengers get decent journeys and that problems are dealt with quickly. This review will suggest how we achieve a joined up approach to running the train and tracks and make things work better for the public.
“We also need to get to grips with things that go wrong on this part of the network. That is why we are putting in place a £20 million scheme to tackle the cause of breakdowns that too often cause frustrating and damaging delays on the network.”
Grayling wants Southern GTR and Network Rail to work more closely together.
The £20m funding is for a package of improvement measures including: £2m for rapid response teams to sort out problems at known hotspots; £2.5m to accelerate train maintenance; £0.8m for more signal supervisors; and £0.9m on measures to minimise bridge strikes.
Worn track will be replaced and extra staff employed at some key stations to speed up dwell times.
Gibb will head a project board that will include representatives from GTR (Southern’s parent company) and Network Rail (but not DfT). A passenger representative will also be appointed to look after commuter interests (to be chosen after consultation with local MPs).
The board will start in the coming weeks and should present its findings later in the year.
Gibb has occupied senior management rail industry roles for more than 35 years. He is currently a non executive director with Network Rail, and was previously chief operating officer with the Virgin Rail Group (VRG).