FCC train disruptions continue, new drivers due... in 2010

16 November 2009

Bitterwallet reader Olly is a regular passenger with First Capital Connect (FCC) and he's mad as hell. He's one of the thousands of London commuters caught up in the continued disruptions caused by FCC drivers deciding to work-to-rule after recent pay negotiations collapsed. That means drivers aren't working overtime or on rest days, although you'd assume FCC could still run a reasonably satisfactory timetable - it is a business after all, and you don't run a business based on high numbers of staff working overtime, all the time. And yet, as Olly explains:

"The whole timetable has gone tits up. On Thursday, for example, when there are meant to be eight trains between 8-9am into London from my station (Elstree) there were just three. Thameslink line being one of the most overcrowded at the best of times meant that, not surprisingly, eight trains loads of people into three trains didn't go.

Bitterwallet - First Capital Connect

"The FCC is handing out emergency timetables - it's like the Blitz spirit, except it's 2009. This new timetable means that because I, like a large section of population finish work at 5.30pm (say closer to 6pm in reality), I have one train between 6-7pm to get home. Usually in that hour there is at least five."

So what has FCC to say on the matter?

"This situation started when pay talks began with our drivers. As pay talks have continued, we have been experiencing high levels of cancellations particularly on the Thameslink route. We are working to provide the best possible timetable each day and limit the disruption caused."

FCC has explained that despite employing enough drivers, some of these drivers are on long-term sick and others are restricted as to what they can do - that's why when drivers decide to work-to-rule the entire network falls over.  It's like a perfect storm, not of wind, rain and big waves, but of shortages according to the train company - except FCC have been operating the franchise for over three years. As Olly points out: "If you have that high a percentage of drivers who are unable to drive then you probably need some more drivers."

There is some light at the end of the tunnel (a little train humour, right there); FCC has recruited new drivers to help ease the disruption - although they won't finish training until Spring next year - and FCC has agreed to an unspecified amount of compensation, "to be paid out... based on trains which should have arrived under the old timetable". Right now, that's pretty much all of them.

TOPICS:   Travel

9 comments

  • John
    I can reveal that ALL fcc drivers will be walking out on the 29th on both routes: http://www.penaltyfareappeal.co.uk/wordpress/?p=682
  • Martin
    Is sitting next to a stop/go lever all day long the sort of job that injures a lot of people? I could understand a lot of Lion Tamers or Fire Jugglers being on long term sickness, but driving a train doesn't seem to be that bad.
  • me
    lol have noticed the level of fcc cancellations when boarding southern trains at brighton, although as I only ever go to london vic I prefer the southern service anyway - least you dont loose your ears every time another train/tunnel passes!
  • maxtweenie
    And I thought it was only the postmen who were still living in the 1970's. Sack the lot of them and get people in who want a fucking job.
  • Inactive
    " And I thought it was only the postmen who were still living in the 1970’s. Sack the lot of them and get people in who want a fucking job. " Why, they are only doing what they are contracted to do, it is FCC Management that needs sacking.
  • grex9101
    Another prime example of why a bus company running a train franchise just doesn't work. I work for another of the First rail franchises (the one that's been extended to 2014 due to a dodgy government backhander), and it's the same with us. All traincrew grades rosters rely on overtime to maintain a full timetable, theory goes that it costs less to pay overtime than to employ extra people. This is great in theory, but the shit really hits the fan when vacancies/holidays/sickness comes into play - there simply aren't enough bodies to fill the vacant man hours. As a company, Firstgroup suck. Every ounce of my enthusiasm has been sucked out, they get nothing extra from me now, and our morale is at an all time low.
  • me
    Another company completely lost as to why they rely on workers doing favours then wonder why they withdraw them when they piss them off. Overtime is optional, otherwise it would be part of your contracted hours. Typical fuck ups by a bunch of suited muppets, while they leave the rest of us stranded. Sack the managers.
  • grex9101
    "Another company completely lost as to why they rely on workers doing favours then wonder why they withdraw them when they piss them off." Agreed. Ironically, I used to get paid overtime. They then increased the team I'm responsible for by 33%, withdrew my overtime and expect me to do MORE for (technically) less money! Needless to say I'm not the only one in the company in this position. First should stick to running buses (badly), the railways should be renationalised.
  • Oli
    I get a train from Redhill to City Thameslink in the morning, and back in the evening (finish work about 5:30/6pm if I'm lucky) but now there are NO trains in the morning, and the only evening train that is direct is at 5:20pm! I have to go all over bloody London changing trains to be able to get to and from work now.

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