A NEW RMT hotline exposes 33 examples of Govia Thameslink cancelling trains due to ‘staff shortage’ or other excuses when a full crew of staff has been available.

The union said yesterday: ‘In less than a week since rail union RMT set up a dedicated helpline for people to let us know about GTR “train cancellations” we have definitive evidence of 33 trains cancelled where staff were available and ready to work but the trains were either cancelled because of engineering works, rolling stock failures or unavailability.

‘The 1703 Eastbourne to Brighton service on Tuesday 14th was even announced as cancelled due to “staff shortages” as it left the station with a complete crew and full of passengers. On route, station staff said to the crew, “We’ve been told you’re cancelled and I’ve been telling everyone”.

‘A sample of other information sent to the RMT includes:

• “17.57 London Bridge to Brighton yesterday was cancelled due to crew unavailable. When Control were asked which member of crew was missing, they didn’t say which one but they did say the stock was missing”

• Monday 13th June. “This evening this happened. Both conductor and driver were there! The conductor had been in the Breakroom since 20:30pm so no excuse. Driver was on platform waiting”.

• “On Sunday 12th June announcements at Victoria were saying that services from Redhill-Tonbridge are being cancelled due to a shortage of available train crew. Fact is Redhill is closed to due to planned engineering works so there is a rail replacement bus in operation. Nothing to do with train crew”

• “On Saturday 11th June 2N69 Littlehampton-Portsmouth and Southsea was cancelled with a full crew!”

• “On Friday 8th June a Southern train broke down in Hastings causing the cancellation of the 0542 train from Hastings to Eastbourne, the cancellation of the 0702 train from Eastbourne to Hastings and the 0738 Hastings to Eastbourne. These were advertised on the Customer Information Service as cancelled due to conductor sickness. The conductor and driver were both there but their train had failed.’

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: ‘RMT is sick and tired of Govia Thameslink, backed up by Tory transport minister Claire Perry, peddling a pack of lies and trying to blame staff for cancellations and disruption which are down to the company itself. This research blows apart that campaign of dirty tricks.

‘There is no “unofficial action” on Southern. The staff shortages are down to gross mismanagement of staffing numbers, rosters and diagrams by the company on this basket case franchise and our hotline information now proves that services are being axed even when staff are available.

‘Trying to lump the blame onto hard-working, frontline staff , who take the full force of passenger anger for cancellations and delays, is cowardly and despicable behaviour by this failing, rip-off GTR outfit and their cheerleaders in the government.

‘Luckily, no one believes a word that comes out of this company and their dirty-tricks department. This is a franchise in meltdown, propped up by a government bending the contract penalty rules to keep GTR afloat. Govia should be slung out immediately with the publicly-owned Directly Operated Railways swung in to try and sort out this shambles.’