Rail boss to resign following new timetable shambles making live misery for passengers
The boss of beleaguered rail firm Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) is to resign. Passengers have faced major disruption as hundreds of trains were cancelled following the introduction of new timetables in May.
GTR, which runs Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern, said chief executive Charles Horton would remain in post for a short time to oversee the development of a temporary timetable.
The RMT said: “The rotten franchise he was steering remains in place.”
Announcing his resignation, Mr Horton said: “I recognise that passengers have been hugely frustrated at the significant disruption caused by the introduction of new timetables.
“It is the right time to hand leadership of GTR to a new pair of hands.”
GTR – Britain’s largest rail franchise – changed the time of every train on its timetable on 20 May.
Passengers were warned of disruption before the changes were brought in, but the implementation of the new timetable saw some services withdrawn and further cancellations without any warning.
The changes affected the Southern rail, Gatwick Express, Thameslink and Great Northern networks.
About 230 daily services were removed from GTR’s routes to make for a “more consistent timetable”, the company said.
Last week, it emerged the firm was using taxis to make sure students could get to exams on time.
And Mr Horton – who will be grilled by the Commons Transport Select Committee on Monday alongside other rail bosses – admitted being delayed by his own trains.
In a letter to staff, he said: “In my view, this was an industry-wide failure of the timetabling process. But with leadership comes responsibility and so I feel it is only right that I step down.
“Before my departure in a few weeks’ time, I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure a smooth handover as we work to put our railway back on track and give our passengers a reliable service once again.”
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Mr Horton may now have gone but the rotten franchise he was steering remains in place and no change at the top will alter that.
“This whole basket-case operation is a failure on every level.”
Charles Horton has been chief executive of Govia Thameslink Railway since September 2014, having previously been managing director of Southeastern.
He started his career in transport at the London Underground in 1985, rising to station services director.
Mr Horton moved to Connex South Eastern in 2000. He then became managing director of Southern Railway from 2003 to 2006, when he moved to Southeastern