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First Capital Connect St Albans City & District Council Overview & Scrutiny (Public Services) Committee 30 June 2010. Neal Lawson Managing Director. Larry Heyman Integration & Partnership Manager. Trains on the Thameslink route. Above: Class 319 – 86 x 4-carriage units

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First capital connect st albans city district council

First Capital Connect

St Albans City & District Council

Overview & Scrutiny (Public Services) Committee

30 June 2010

Neal Lawson

Managing Director

Larry Heyman

Integration & Partnership Manager

Trains on the thameslink route
Trains on the Thameslink route

Above: Class 319 – 86 x 4-carriage units

Left: Class 377 Electrostars

23 x 4-carriage units

Performance and reliability
Performance and reliability

“Commuting is a way of life for a high proportion of our residents, who rely on an effective train service to meet both work and family commitments.”

Quotation from letter dated 4 February 2010 written by Councillor Robert Donald, Leader of the Council and Daniel Goodwin, Chief Executive, St Albans City & District Council.

Performance all fcc
Performance – all FCC

93.0% of trains arrived on time in Period 1 (month of April) against a target of 92.56% and 92.77% last year

All FCC – periods 1 & 2 to 29 May

93.78% of trains arrived on time in Period 2 (month of May) against a target of 92.53% and 92.38% last year

  • Average PPM (Public Performance Measure) over the year to date is 93.37% compared with 92.59% last year.

Performance tl route
Performance – TL route

92.15% of trains arrived on time in Period 1 (month of April) against a target of 90.59% and 91.58% last year

Thameslink route – period 1 & 2 to 29 May 2010

92.27% of trains arrived on time in Period 2 (month of May) against a target of 90.56% and 90.07% last year

  • Average PPM (Public Performance Measure) over the year to date is 92.20% compared with 90.87% last year.

First capital connect st albans city district council

Engineering performance

TL Route

GN Route

New trains finally delivered
New trains finally delivered

  • All 23 new Electrostars delivered

  • Almost 5,000 more peak hours seats every day since February 2009

  • Number of short 4-car peak trains halved


“Members felt that urgent attention should be given to ………… how the company communicates with its customers when services are disrupted.”

Quotation from letter dated 4 February 2010 written by Councillor Robert Donald, Leader of the Council and Daniel Goodwin, Chief Executive, St Albans City & District Council.

Customer information update
Customer Information Update

  • Customer Information System replacement software tender

  • Will create one system for all FCC

  • Thameslink route prioritised – will be operational end September

  • More accurate information

  • Fewer late notice platform alterations

  • Easier to manage during disruption

  • Driver announcements: good practices being developed and encouraged

Customer information update1
Customer information update

  • Problem – how to get real-time information to our ticket inspectors, gate line and platform staff

  • Solution – Blackberry smart phones with internet access

  • 260 devices issued by end of June

Customer information update2
Customer information update

  • Blackberry gives access to:

    • National Rail Enquiry staff services and other real-time information systems

    • Emails sent from control

    • Company information

  • www.firstcapitalconnect to be overhauled by end September this year:

    • more user friendly

    • disruption updates clearer, more informative

    • involving key stakeholders in design

Improved compensation offer
Improved compensation offer

“…….. we were pleased to hear that your Board has now made an improved offer to Season Ticket holders. We do however wonder what you intend to offer to those customers (e.g. part time workers) who are frequent customers of the service …. but do not benefit from Season Ticket rebates.”

Quotation from letter dated 4 February 2010 written by Councillor Robert Donald, Leader of the Council and Daniel Goodwin, Chief Executive, St Albans City & District Council.

Delay repay
Delay Repay

  • Passenger Focus welcomed the introduction of Delay Repay, which replaced the former Charter Discount and Void Day scheme for Season Ticket holders in many new franchises. The old scheme failed to compensate customers holding Weekly Season tickets or those using single or return tickets.

  • Delay Repay compensation covering the winter disruption to TL route services was based on delays against the normal TL route timetable and not the reduced service.

  • The TL route compensation scheme for Season Ticket holders was widely consulted with Passenger Focus, London TravelWatch and Rail User Groups.

  • The rail industry does not hold any data on users of Season Tickets issued for less than one month, nor for users of single and return tickets. Customers therefore needed to contact us to claim Delay Repay.

  • However, additional claims, over and above Delay Repay, from customers holding daily or weekly tickets who had evidence of purchase to support their claim, were considered on a case by case basis.


“Members wanted reassurance that the situation will not recur in the future. What guarantees are there that drivers will not simply decide to walk out again; and if this was to occur, what contingency arrangements will the company be putting in place?”

Quotation from letter dated 4 February 2010 written by Councillor Robert Donald, Leader of the Council and Daniel Goodwin, Chief Executive, St Albans City & District Council.

Tl route drivers
TL route drivers

We are working to become much less reliant on rest day and overtime working.

  • There are currently 27 new drivers in training, of whom 15 are being trained from scratch and 12 are qualified drivers. In addition one driver has just completed his training.

  • Another 11 qualified drivers will start their training next Monday and we are recruiting more.

  • It takes 14 months to train drivers from scratch and 8 months for a qualified driver to complete the necessary traction and route knowledge training.

  • A number of drivers will pass out, having completed their training, at the end of August and the rest will do so progressively in Autumn and Winter.

Planned st albans station enhancements
Planned St Albans station enhancements

  • 12-car length platforms – work nearing completion

  • Complete resurfacing of Station Way by end August this year subject to TRO and Herts Highways agreement

  • Refurbishment of the over-bridge and platform canopies

  • Expansion of the existing cycle parking in station forecourt and on Ridgmont Road side – approximately 100 more covered spaces

Planned harpenden station enhancements
Planned Harpenden station enhancements

  • 12-car length platforms completed

  • FCC gate-line scheme to be delivered by December 2010

  • Construction of new footbridge with lifts to all platforms. (Existing footbridge will remain.) Contractors to start work by end of this year

  • Replacement of existing cycle parking on west side of station. New scheme will increase capacity by approx 50%. All will be covered

West hampstead thameslink interchange
West Hampstead Thameslink interchange

Major interchange project underway to create new station entrance to south side of station, in Iverson Road

Includes a new footbridge (existing bridge will stay) with lifts to all platforms

New booking office in Iverson Road

Existing northern entrance off West end Lane will remain but that ticket office will close when the new one opens

Both entrances will have gate-lines

Planned completion May 2011

December 2011 first 12 car trains
December 2011 – first 12-car trains

Three additional four-carriage Electrostars from Southern will be sub-leased to FCC as part of Southern’s franchise agreement from December 2011. We will then have a total of 26 Class 377 Electrostars

Expected eight services per day (three southbound and one northbound in the morning peak and vice versa in the evening)

Approx 1,900 extra peak hours seats per day

Questions submitted pre meeting
Questions submitted pre-meeting

“Why has FCC today (Wed 23 June) announced a clearly pre-planned day-long programme of cancellations and alterations – with the vague excuse of “no drivers available?”

  • We did everything possible in the lead up to Wednesday to run as many trains as possible but unfortunately were unable to cover all our services.

  • The shortage of drivers on Wednesday was, to a major extent, a product of the number of colleagues who wanted to watch England’s World Cup match

Questions submitted pre meeting1
Questions submitted pre-meeting

  • Wednesday’s driver availability was also affected by major infrastructure issues the previous evening, following which some drivers worked extra hours to get rolling stock back to the right side of the Thames before the overnight closure of the cross-London route. These drivers then needed to have a mandatory number of hours break before the start of their next shift

  • This led to three cancellations in the morning peak

  • The situation was exacerbated by an FCC Brighton - Bedford train being trapped for one hour behind a failed Gatwick Express service during the morning peak, delaying northbound services and affecting subsequent southbound trains

  • The ongoing recruitment and training of drivers, which is limited only by the availability of qualified driver trainers, will reduce and eventually eliminate the chance of this happening in future

Questions submitted pre meeting2
Questions submitted pre-meeting

“Why, given overcrowding has been the biggest complaint of the past few years, do the new trains have fewer seats and less standing space than the old ones?”

  • The Electrostars are sub-leased from Southern and are designed and fitted to their specification, to which FCC had no input. It is planned that they will be replaced by the new Thameslink Programme trains, starting 2014

  • The Electrostars are a step-change improvement compared with the Class 319s. They have air conditioning, are DDA compliant (including wheelchair accessible toilets) and have automated announcements and passenger information screens in each carriage. However the new Thameslink trains will be even better

Questions submitted pre meeting3
Questions submitted pre-meeting

Interior of new Thameslink trains due from 2014

  • The new Thameslink trains will be fixed formation 8-car and 12-car units. They have been specified with open gangways, so there will be no inter-carriage doors except for entry into First Class.

  • Full size mock ups of the saloon have been specified to be built which will incorporate the floor, body-side and ceiling section for a length of seats equivalent to one end bay up to and including the vestibule and doorway. The mock up will include seats, luggage racks, utility modules, grab poles and draught screens and the location and form of passenger information displays and signage. Feedback from the mock-ups will be fed into the design process as necessary.

From 2014 new trains being delivered
From 2014 – new trains being delivered

  • Fixed length

  • Two designs

  • Lightweight

  • Walk-through

  • 2+2 seating

  • Different customer needs

  • Cutting-edge

    information systems

From december 2016
From December 2016

  • New fleet complete; many more 12-cars

  • Up to 24 trains per hour in central London

  • Great Northern route linked to TL

  • New cross-London destinations

  • London Bridgerebuilt

Questions submitted pre meeting4
Questions submitted pre-meeting

“Is the future Thameslink Programme under threat because of the recent budget announcements? I understand from the local government press that the £1.2bn contact to deliver 1000 new carriages is specifically under review; could FCC clarify the position?”

  • Negotiations are continuing with the two remaining companies bidding (Bombardier and Siemens) to build and maintain the new fleet of trains. The DfT will not be in a position to name a preferred bidder until after the findings of the Government’s spending review are announced this autumn.

Questions submitted pre meeting5
Questions submitted pre-meeting

“Why does FCC still run trains with 4 carriages instead of 8, especially at evenings and weekends? What is the impact of doing so on the performance statistics that FCC are obliged to report?”

  • Following delivery of the 23 Class 377 Electrostars, we have been able to halve the number of 4-car peak trains

  • 20 of the 23 Electrostars are in service during the morning and evening weekday peaks, as are 79 of the 86 Class 319 trains. The remainder are undergoing essential heavy maintenance.

  • Outside these peaks, maintenance is undertaken on many of the other trains.

Questions submitted pre meeting6
Questions submitted pre-meeting

  • We regularly check passenger loadings on our trains. E.g. twelve Saturday services between Bedford and St Pancras and vice-versa have recently been identified as being in need of additional capacity. These will be strengthened from four to eight carriages by the end of the third week in July

  • A short-formed peak hours train (timetabled to operate with eight cars) will invariably result in delays, due to longer dwell times at stations, resulting in Passenger Performance Measure (PPM) targets being missed.

  • Each period FCC has to report to the DfT how many trains have been short-formed against their planned formation. If we exceeded the permitted level of short forms permitted within the Franchise Agreement, action would be taken by the DfT.

Questions submitted pre meeting7
Questions submitted pre-meeting

“Why, when FCC has doubled fares between 4 and 7pm, can I still not get a seat in the evening rush hour?”

  • Evening peak restrictions were introduced in June 2006 and apply between 4.30pm and 7.01pm inclusive

  • They have helped to manage capacity by reducing the number of people travelling during these hours. Crowding would otherwise be considerably more severe

  • The key to increasing capacity is the Thameslink Programme. That’s why platforms are being extended to 12-car length, to allow 12-car trains to run from 2011

Questions submitted pre meeting8
Questions submitted pre-meeting

“Why, when my season ticket price has increased by 25% in five years, is my travelling experience more uncomfortable, unreliable and stressful than ever?”

  • A more comfortable journey will result from increased capacity, which is the reason for the Thameslink Programme. The first 12-car trains will be introduced with the December 2011 timetable change

  • A more reliable journey will be delivered through our major investment in an enhanced maintenance regime for our Class 319 trains, particularly the door mechanisms, and through the recruitment and training of many additional drivers

  • Our investment in new software for our Customer Information System, in PDAs for our frontline staff and in an enhanced website will greatly improve the accuracy of train running information, both when services are running normally and at times of disruption

Questions submitted pre meeting9
Questions submitted pre-meeting

“Why should I have to pay to use cash machines at FCC stations when other stations have fee-free cash machines?”

  • When the FCC franchise started in April 2006, only 12 of the 78 stations that we manage across the Thameslink and Great Northern routes offered customers ATMs

  • We wanted to extend the facility to other stations. But, when we opened discussions with the banks that previously provided this facility, they were not prepared to extend the service to any other station as they determined that the volume of customers was too small for them to provide a free service.

Questions submitted pre meeting10
Questions submitted pre-meeting

  • We felt this was unacceptable, knowing how much customers value the opportunity to withdraw cash at their local station, so we approached Cardpoint.

  • Cardpoint were prepared to provide ATMs across a substantial number of FCC stations (sixty in all) thereby extending the service to a much larger number of our customers. However, for Cardpoint to agree, the service needed to include a fee at the point of withdrawal.

Questions submitted pre meeting11
Questions submitted pre-meeting

“It is vital that the displays show correct information. I often have trouble assessing what is happening and where trains are going during periods of disruption. I would like to know what is causing this problem and what is being done to address it”

  • We have shown earlier in this presentation that there is an acute problem with the existing software which is being replaced at a cost of £1.5 million. The new software will be commissioned on the Thameslink route by end September and by the year end on our GN route