Posted 15th June 2018 | 4 Comments

Beleaguered Thameslink chief steps down

THE managing director of Govia Thameslink Railway is leaving.

Go-Ahead Group said that Charles Horton had tendered his resignation.

The news has followed a troubled period during which GTR attempted to introduce a completely revised timetable on 20 May with more than 3,000 retimed trains, only to find that the new schedules did not work.

As a result, GTR has been running a reduced timetable since 3 June in a bid to improve reliability, but the number of trains still cancelled or delayed by more than 30 minutes has hovered around 5 per cent in recent days, partly because of specific incidents.

Charles Horton said: “I recognise that passengers have been hugely frustrated at the significant disruption caused by the introduction of new timetables. It is the right time to hand leadership of GTR to a new pair of hands. I am immensely proud of my team and I would like to thank my 7,000 colleagues at GTR for all their hard work over the past four years.”

Go-Ahead, which owns 65 per cent of Govia alongside partner Keolis, said he will remain in his post for a short period, and his successor will be announced in due course.

Go-Ahead chief executive David Brown said: “I would like to thank Charles for his hard work with Govia for the past 15 years. Under often challenging conditions, he has built a team to deliver the largest railway change programme for decades, on a franchise that is not only the UK's biggest, but which has also has seen the highest passenger growth.

“We are committed to working with the Department for Transport and Network Rail to address recent problems and to deliver a reliable, punctual service for passengers.”

The RMT reacted to the news by calling for the franchise to be terminated. The union’s general secretary Mick Cash said: "The Horton resignation opens the door for the this sorry chapter to be bro‎ught to a close and that means sweeping GTR away and returning the services to public ownership with safety, access and quality the guiding priorities."

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • claydon william, Norwich, Norfolk

    A great shame; the railway loses another fine manager in Charles Horton.

    Charles has the railways running through him like a stick of rock, and what he doesn't know about running a railway isn't worth knowing. He just struggled with the industrial politics of all this like any mortal would, and I know Charles was not in favour of merging Southern with Thameslink in the first place.

    As for Mick Cash and his dreadful union, they were determined that this timetable change wasn't going to work, and there was no little industrial sabotage involved here. They succeeded.

    Shame on Cash. He ought to be called out and publicly prosecuted for bringing misery to millions of commuters, in seeking to return the railway to the dreadful 1970's when union domination resulted in terrible service and poor investment.

  • Jez Milton, Manchester

    Leave the doors to the driver. The second person on board focusses only on serving passengers, especially selling tickets. GTR and the other operators are spot on to 'dig in' to win this battle for management's right to manage.

  • david c smith, Bletchley

    Interesting that a similar dispute about driver only operation on Scotrail was settled with a sensible compromise within a matter of weeks.

    I can only think that both the government and the rail unions have been trying to use this question as pretext for trying to disempower each other , with the passengers suffering in the middle.

    Yet another example of the " unfit for purpose" current structure of the passenger railway, which a well known rail commentator has described as "pretend capitalism".

  • Jez Milton, Manchester

    When is Mick Cash going to step down? He has put rail commuters through misery up and down the country in disputes that have already ended in abject defeat for his Luddite union on Southern and Anglia. Defeat on the other operators will follow, sure as night follows day.

    These Trots cling to the dream of a Corbyn McDonnell government. But the latest YouGov poll shows Labour 7 points behind. Wake up RMT members. Get a leadership that can negotiate you a good deal. Reject a leadership dreaming of a communist revolution.