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Temporary crew unavailability

We are very sorry that our service on Great Northern has been below the level you rightly expect. There have been too many cancellations particularly on Saturdays.

We have a great team of around 1,000 qualified drivers on Thameslink and Great Northern. To improve the situation, we are:

  • Further reducing our training plans until more of our circa 50 trainee drivers have qualified
  • Supporting our colleagues to operate the full train service
  • Postponing non-essential activities until the Autumn

Our new £240m fleet of Class 717 trains will now operate seven days a week and will be fully introduced by the Autumn.

We pledge not to leave anyone stranded and to keep you informed during disruption.

Additional staff will be at key locations to support you on Saturdays. You can claim delay repay compensation if your journey is delayed for 15 minutes or more.

Please check your journey in journey planners such as www.nationalrail.co.uk.

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.