Network have promised a raft of measures to tackle the chaos that has made London Bridge station a minefield of chaos and travel misery.
Rail minister Claire Perry and transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin met with Labour MPs to hear their concerns and immediately confirmed the changes which include better timetable, more staff and better delay warnings.
MPs had told the transport bosses to “get a grip” on the “failing management” at the station and launch a compensation scheme. The station has been dogged by delays and bottlenecks with crowds forced to leap barriers to avoid the crush.
The RMT transport union claimed there had been a “catalogue of faults” with the work with corners including poorly-installed track and signalling layout, corners cut on quality of new points.
Disruption has followed rebuilding work involving the £6.5billion Thameslink Programme which the RMT transport union called “life-threatening”.
Ms Perry said carrying out work on one of the UK’s busiest stations was like doing “open heart surgery on a marathon runner” but promised action.
Network Rail’s managing director of network operations Phil Hufton, now “gold commander at the station” said: “In the last few weeks passengers have experienced unacceptable levels of service and over-crowding.
“Passengers have been very tolerant about the changes but understandably they have lost their patience with the recent poor service experienced, for which we are very sorry.
“The measures we are putting in place will improve train service provision as well as station management in order that customers receive a better service at London Bridge and, if delays occur, they are given the help they need.”
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “The union warned from the off that the continuing chaos at London Bridge could be tracked back to the fragmentation and privatisation of our railways with its myriad contractors and sub-contractors, and the drive to cut corners and rush through important works in the interest of meeting financial targets and protecting profits.
“The catalogue of faults identified by our reps is breath-taking and, alongside the abject failure to listen to our members who understand how a railway works, shows that the continuing chaos and overcrowding at London Bridge was entirely predictable.
“RMT will continue to expose the truth while those responsible offer nothing but PR stunts and sticking plaster solutions.”
Network Rail, and the train operators serving London Bridge, said they were taking action to make the station a better environment for passengers to use over the months ahead as rebuilding work continues.
NR said the action plan includes:
- Increasing the number of staff, especially at peak times and at times of disruption.
- Ensuring staff and passengers have access to the latest travel information and advice by boosting wi-fi capability, providing tablets to staff and bolstering information screens.
- Better advanced warning for passengers of potential problems at the station and offering alternative travel advice.
- Changes to the timetable to help a better flow of trains into, and out of, the station.
- Reintroducing Olympic 2012-style “travel champions” who can be called upon to boost station staffing levels and help people find their way.