It's Not About The Doors!

Exposing DfT/Govia Lies


September 2016


From Monday 26th September, Southern Rail has announced they will begin running trains again between Seaford and Lewes during the day after their near total cancellation of this route over the summer. 341 daily weekday train services were cancelled as an emergency timetable was introduced to bring some predictability to what can only be described as a chaotic period of last minute cancellations and alterations. The government and Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) put the blame for this squarely on the shoulders of guards, citing ‘unusually high levels’ of staff ‘sickness’. They hoped to play on people’s prejudices against unions and blue-collar workers in what were mainly Conservative party constituencies. Guards and the RMT union always denied there was any unofficial action and have repeatedly flagged up GTR’s failure to recruit enough staff to run the service. ‘Staff sickness’ was GTR’s attempt to deflect attention away from their skeleton staffing levels being exposed. There is always a high turnover of staff within the guard grade: some go driving, others become managers, there are always people retiring and then there are the secondments. These people are not being replaced as GTR strive to cut costs as much as possible. For those guards still putting up with the job the reality was, and is, they are reluctant to work their rest days (days off from work) as company attacks on themselves and their families have destroyed any goodwill which may have remained. It is a poisonous environment. Even as recently as last week Angie Doll, GTR Passenger Services Director, appeared on television to contribute more to the animosity by claiming that ‘additional healthcare professionals’ had been employed to get staff back to work!

(You can here Angie Doll be economical with the truth here)

We can now reveal evidence that shows what we have known all along – GTR’s ‘staff sickness excuse’ is a lie.

Moreover it also indicates that shortage of staff is the key issue behind GTR’s failure to run a reliable train service.

Rather than helping ‘ill’ staff to recover more quickly and return to work, the real reason that the service is being reinstated is due to managers being taken out of their offices and trained to work the Seaford route. Three managers (others?) from Brighton are being seconded to work as guards for at least six to eight weeks. Reproduced below are emails from Southern managers to their staff explaining the situation. All names have been removed. The question that remains to be answered is what on earth do these managers actually do that allows them to be moved to another job for two months? On this evidence, very little!

Slowly, the Department for Transport and GTR lies are unravelling. If you have anything to contribute that can accelerate this process then please contact us at: itsnotabouthedoors[AT] (only 1 t between about and the – abouthe)

Subject: Changes from Monday 25th September 2016


Hi all,

As you know we have been running an emergency timetable for a period of time and as a business we really need to look at re-introducing the full timetable as soon as possible. As you have all seen in the press the Seaford line is currently only served during the peaks then buses at all other times which has not been well received by our passengers.

Now as you know during the recent strikes a group of managers have been trained to run trains during these days to ensure we provide a service to our passengers. With this in mind and so we can re-start the Seaford Service it has been decided that this will happen on the branch line so we can start running a normal service to Seaford. So from Monday 25th September 2016 for a period of six to eight weeks myself and Xxxxx Xxxxxx  will seconded to the conductor role to cover these vital services.

Now because of this it will impact the area and how its run, so the following changes will be made from this date to cover myself and Xxxxxx whilst we assist the business putting this service back in.

Xxxxx Xxxxxx  Station Manager Haywards Heath will become Acting Group Station Manager Brighton Mainline.

Whilst Xxxxxx is away Xxxxx Xxxxxx  will take on Haywards Heath which means she covers Haywards Heath to Preston Park.

Xxxxx Xxxxxx  and Xxxxx Xxxxxx  will remain in current position with no changes.

With Xxxxx gone from Brighton the Station Manager responsibilities will change whilst she is away with the following.

Xxxxx Xxxxxx  will carry on with the STLs, Maintenance Teams, Advantix Staff and will also take over line management of the Sales Team including SPTL & Floorwalkers.

Xxxxx Xxxxxx  will carry on with the Area GPRs and will also take the Platform Staff at Brighton.

Xxxxx Xxxxxx will carry on with the Gateline, Fares to Pay and Customer Care Team.

Now I know for all the staff at Brighton the big question is what happens to the consultation I issued in February 2016, now I’m hoping to able to attend the company council meeting next week but after this it will be put on hold until I return in late November or early December. We will keep you fully updated.

Those stations affected by TSE, now I hope you have all been briefed by your line managers that this is currently on hold for six months until we have done a trail at eight stations, obviously you will be kepted fully updated if anything changes.

Now I know you all will but please support the managers through these times as it will be challenging for them as we are currently two short and this will make it four short. If you have any concerns or would like to talk this through then please speak with your line manager who will clarify this email further for you.

I will see you all over the next few months and you will be informed when myself and Xxxxxx are returning.

Kind Regards,

Xxxx Xxxxxx
Group Station Manager
Brighton Mainline

Go Via Thameslink Railway (GTR) Ltd

Tel: 07xxx xxxxxx

Go Via Thameslink Railway Ltd
Brighton Station, Queens Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 3XP

Registered in England and Wales No. 07934306. Registered office: 3rd Floor, 41-51 Grey Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6EE



Southern Rail’s  plan to operate their services without the guarantee of a second member of staff on board has been exposed as having a fatal flaw.

When the train company  drew up their plans they  inexplicably forgot to take into account the effect their changes would have on the ability of the disabled to be able to access their services.

If they go ahead with their plan to remove the guarantee of a second member of staff on every service within the present non DOO (Driver Operation Only) area, disabled customers will have to give 24 hours notice to Southern Assisted Travel of their intention to use the train service or risk a significant delay to their journey.

Southern are now aware of this flaw in their plan but are still intent in going ahead with its implementation.

In an email sent out by Alex Foulds, Southern Passenger Service Director, the company  are now appearing to claim that they are not going to clear the network for DOO yet still state their intentions to run trains without a guaranteed second member of staff on board. It would appear to be clear to everyone accept those at GTR that to run trains DOO they must first clear the routes with Network Rail for Driver Only Operation.

Alex Foulds also claims that the company see no requirement to redraw their station accessibility map. (the station accessibility map map informs customers who require assistance to board rail services if there is a guarantee of assistance either at the stations or on the train. If neither criteria is met then the advice is to book 24 hours in advance or risk a significant delay to their journey).

With the guarantee of the second on board person removed then there will be no certainty of assistance at the vast majority of stations in Southern’s present non DOO area.
Afraid of the negative publicity that would ensue from redrawing the Accessibility Map and highlighting that their modernisation plan would be in breach of the 2010 Equality Act Southern have instead decided, according to Alex Foulds, to leave the map unchanged!

The effect of the company failing to redraw the station accessibility map, to avoid negative publicity, will be that disabled customers will be left unaware that there is the real possibility that there will be no one at a station to help them board the train.

Southern or GTR or whatever company is responsible for this flawed plan, have the right to modernise the rail network but not at the expense of their disabled customers.

It is essential that the rights of disabled customers to have the same access to train services as everyone else is defended.

Lets ensure that this flawed modernisation plan is consigned to the bin.

Please help to give this issue maximum publicity and ensure that the rights of the disabled are at the forefront of any modernisation plan that Southern want to implement.


After 6 months of disruption to our rail services most customers are still confused by the difference between Conductors and On Board Supervisors. I hope this comparison of their duties will help.


Safety Critical Trained – This means that they have a legal responsibility when carrying out certain duties. These duties are: Train Dispatch, Emergency Train Evacuation, Protecting the line if the train is involved in an incident (derailment, collision with road vehicle, collision with objects on the track, fire, security alert etc.).

Ensures disabled access to train service – at present no service can operate over the disputed routes without a Safety Critical trained Conductor on board therefore disabled passengers are certain of a staff member being there to ensure they can gain access to ALL services.

Customer Service – This involves giving travel advice, selling tickets, giving reassurance by being highly visible, helping the elderly with luggage, making interchange announcements etc.

On Board Supervisor

Not Safety Critical Trained – Can’t carry out train dispatch, Can’t control emergency evacuation (may assist only), Can’t carry out protection of the line in event of incident.

Does not ensure disabled access to train services – there is no certainty that an On Board Supervisor will be on every service. Will be able to assist on services they operate, providing they are aware that assistance is required (unlike Conductors their role does not require them to step on to the platform to check. They have to wait for driver notification. This is to allow them to spend more time on board the train carrying out Customer Service).

Customer Service – this involves giving travel advice, selling tickets, giving reassurance by being highly visible, helping the elderly with luggage, making interchange announcements etc.

So there are the two job roles.

The union claim that the Safety Critical role is vital for running a safe railway. They argue that in the event of a serious incident it is essential that there is a 2nd Safety Critical trained member of staff on board to ensure customer safety.

The Union also argues that to remove the certainty from disabled customers that they will be able to board every service breaches the 2010 Equality Act.

The Company claims that modern trains no longer require a second Safety Critical member of staff and this releases staff to carry out more customer service.

The Company state that it is their intention to try and have an On Board Supervisor on every service but when this is not possible they will operate the service with only the Driver.

The company state they are not disadvantaging their disabled customers but have yet to explain how they will ensure that someone who requires assistance will be able to turn up and travel without pre booking assistance.

Hope this helps clarify the reasons for this dispute.

Our opinion is that we want as highly skilled personnel as possible working any service we’re on and that it is quite disgraceful that GTR/Southern would implement any plan to improve customer service that discriminates against the disabled.

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