GTR chief Horton apologises for Redhill bus overcrowding
Govia Thameslink Railway Chief Executive Charles Horton has apologised for high levels of overcrowding at Redhill station on February 25, which left hundreds of passengers queuing for rail replacement bus services.
Speaking at the Public Accounts Committee hearing into rail franchising on February 26, Horton explained: “We had engineering works yesterday at Redhill station. It was slightly unusual, because we had all lines stopped on the Brighton main lines. All four lines were not operating.
“We had a plan to operate buses from Redhill to destinations south of Redhill, including Gatwick Airport. We found that the road congestion and the difficulty of getting buses to circle around the routes we had planned meant that we were unable to get sufficient buses to Redhill station to allow the passengers to move in reasonable time. I have apologised absolutely for that.”
Horton promised action to resolve the issues in future engineering possessions, and offered compensation for passengers, saying: “We are doing two things. Firstly, we have had an urgent review today of our plans for next weekend and the weekend after, when we have similar engineering works, and we are putting in place revised plans as a result of those reviews and the lessons learned from today. We are working closely with Network Rail on that.
“Secondly, we are making it clear to passengers who suffered such inconvenience yesterday that we want them to get in touch with us. We will be giving them compensation. Where people have suffered further losses as a result of being in queues for such a long period of time, we will ensure that they are not out of pocket as a result.”
The RMT union described the situation as “dangerous chaos”. General Secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT has been warning for years that Southern/GTR aren’t fit to run a bath, let alone a railway. The terrifying pictures from Redhill today show why it is such a scandal that the union has been ignored.
“This is a company that has shown repeatedly that public safety is of little or no concern to them. That is why our members on Southern have been engaged in a fight with GTR for nearly two years now.
“GTR should be stripped of this franchise and the public sector brought in before there’s a major tragedy.”