London

Watchdog calls for compensation for delayed Thameslink commuters

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Media captionLondon TravelWatch said it was concerned over the poor performance of Govia Thameslink Railway

A watchdog has called for commuters to receive "significant" compensation after a series of delays and cancellations at a new rail franchise.

From 12 October to 8 November, 24% of Thameslink services were delayed and 18% of Great Northern trains arrived late, according to figures from Govia Thameslink Railway.

London TravelWatch said a "significant gesture" was needed to regain trust.

The Govia Thameslink Railway franchise apologised for the network's service.

'Frustrating start'

London TravelWatch said it was extremely concerned about the lack of train drivers across the franchise.

Stephen Locke, chair of the watchdog, said: "A significant gesture is necessary now if they are to have any chance of recovering the trust and confidence of increasingly cynical commuters who, being effectively a captive market, have no choice but to put up with the situation."

He added lessons needed to be learned from the "frustrating start" to the new franchise.

Govia, which is 65%-owned by Go-Ahead and 35%-owned by French firm Keolis, took over the franchise in September.

From 9 November until 6 December, 4% of Thameslink services were cancelled and 21.3% were delayed, while 2.9% of Great Northern services were cancelled and 16% were delayed, according to figures from Govia.

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Image caption Govia Thameslink Railway said they will be replacing trains on the Thameslink route

In a statement, Govia said: "We apologise for the recent service on our network and in particular on Thameslink.

"As well as issues such as train failures which we are determined to address, there have been many problems with infrastructure, such as signal failures."

The company also blamed a shortage of drivers for the cancellations and said they were recruiting more drivers.

Govia said passengers who had been delayed at least 12 times in a four-week period would be entitled to claim enhanced compensation.

Thameslink services run between Bedford and Brighton; and Luton, St Albans, Sutton and Wimbledon, while Great Northern Trains run between London and Peterborough, Cambridge and King's Lynn and Welwyn Garden City.

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