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Train crew availability | Great Northern routes

I am very sorry we have had to cancel some trains on our Great Northern routes due to lack of train crew. This isn't good enough and improving the situation is my number one priority. Some of the steps I’ve taken include pausing some driver training to boost the numbers out on the network and postponing any non-essential activities for drivers until the autumn to further increase driver numbers at weekends. While this is happening, we have around 50 trainee drivers completing their qualifications in the coming months, which means more drivers will be available. And by the autumn we will have replaced all of our old, ‘313’ trains with our new £240m fleet of ‘717’ trains.

I am also making a clear promise to all our customers about what we will do to help if your train is delayed or cancelled. You can claim ‘delay repay’ for any delay of 15 minutes or more, and we will make sure you have the right information and support – whether on-line, on one of our trains or at one of our stations – so you can make the right travel choices and get where you need to be.

Tom Moran
Managing Director
Great Northern & Thameslink

Why is training impacting Thameslink and Great Northern services?

As we work to improve the service on Great Northern and Thameslink with new trains and longer routes, we need to train drivers in the new fleet and expand their route knowledge. By expanding the number of drivers able to cover different routes we can ensure the resilience of the service, giving you a better service in the medium-term.

Route learning for Thameslink services requires seven weeks of additional training per driver, and Great Northern Metro drivers learning our new Class 717s require an eight-day conversion course which can only be delivered now that the fleet is entering all day passenger service.

Do you have enough qualified drivers?

We have around 1000 qualified drivers across Thameslink and Great Northern, to operate 462 weekday driver schedules.

This provides more than two drivers for every daily schedule.

In ordinary circumstances, this level of drivers should be sufficient to operate the full timetable. and GTR, like most train operating companies, also use overtime to deal with fluctuations in availability.

This situation will improve as our qualified drivers complete their essential training.

In addition, we continue to operate the UK’s largest driver training and recruitment programme. Right now, approximately 90 Thameslink and 50 Great Northern trainee drivers are in the final stages of training.

However, elements of this training require 1:1 supervision for 250 hours of driving and other duties. This requirement for supervision can also have an additional short-term impact on the availability of qualified drivers.

How should I plan ahead?

The vast majority of planned services will operate completely as normal and those that may need to be cancelled will be advertised in online journey planners such as www.nationalrail.co.uk.