New campaign launched to advertise safe travel
This month we launched a new advertising campaign to reassure passengers that it's safe to travel on our services and to build confidence in the railway.
Adverts, which reference our enhanced cleaning and safety measures, have appeared in towns and cities across the network, as well as on social media and across national and local radio stations.
See examples below:
Reaching talent from across our communities
Next week, GTR and The Prince's Trust will welcome a new cohort of students to its 'Get Into Railways' programme. The programme helps people, at risk of exclusion or in unemployment, gain experience of the railways and learn new work skills. Building on this experience, this week we have launched a pilot of a similar programme, with our partners at East Sussex College and local Job Centre Plus branches, for people from the coastal towns of West Sussex.
Diversity and inclusion can bring huge value to all organisations. A great example of the success of this is Najla Almutairi (below), who joined us via the Get Into Railways programme and whose success in the National Rail Awards was highlighted in last month's InTouch. That is why we are committed to implementing initiatives to reach talent from across the communities we serve.
GTR become Microsoft case study after Covid-19 response
One of GTR's unsung aspects of our Covid-19 response has been recognised as a case study by our IT software provider, Microsoft.
Behind the scenes as the country entered lockdown, our IT team were stepping up their resources to cope with the challenge of keeping our people and customers moving remotely.
Around 90 per cent of performance, gateline and ticketing data was already being stored in an online data hub, which is analysed when we formulate our station and train plans.
On top of this, GTR built an application using Microsoft software that enabled managers and staff to record staff absences and sickness. Using the application, local managers were able to quickly and easily access guidance documents from GTR's then Chief Medical Officer, Dr Illeana St Claire. The data was gathered and could be viewed online, enabling service planning and faster decision-making throughout the pandemic.
This was followed by the rollout of a social distancing app that allowed all front-line colleagues to record how well social distancing rules were being observed at stations and on trains. Furthermore, an app was made for GTR's frontline teams, which showed them up-to-date cleaning records for all trains.
If you wish to read the full case study, click here
E-tickets will help Southern Railway passengers socially distance
Twelve additional Southern stations along the south coast between Chichester and Eastbourne now have barcode readers installed on the ticket gates to support customers to travel flexibly.
They have been fitted at Chichester, Bognor Regis, Barnham, Littlehampton, Angmering, Worthing, Lancing, Shoreham-by-Sea, Portslade, Eastbourne, Lewes and Falmer stations. These readers scan e-tickets bought via the Southern OnTrack app or online at southernrailway.com and displayed on smartphones or printed out at home.
Passengers could already use e-tickets if travelling to or from 15 major destinations on the Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern network, including Brighton, Gatwick Airport, East Croydon, London Bridge, London Victoria, London Blackfriars, City Thameslink, St Pancras International and Luton Airport Parkway.
Barcode e-ticket sales have increased in the UK from 25% of UK rail ticket revenues pre-Covid to 33% now as passengers realise the benefits of non-contact travel. They can help passengers travel with confidence and are ideal for advanced singles, peak and off-peak singles, and peak and off-peak day return tickets.
Over the coming months another 29 stations across the Govia Thameslink Railway network, including Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern will be fitted with barcode readers.
Engineering work to affect all lines via Horsham in Summer 2021
Engineers will be completing upgrade works engineering work on the Arun Valley (Three Bridges to Arundel via Horsham) and Mole Valley (Dorking to Horsham) railway lines in Summer 2021.
This will include a nine-day line closure of all rail routes via Horsham.
Work will take place on the following dates;
• Saturday 24th July - Sunday 25th July
• Saturday 31st July - Sunday 1st August
• Saturday 14th August - Sunday 22nd August
To improve journeys for customers on the two routes, we need to replace obsolete 1980s track and infrastructure with modern and more reliable equipment.
Services on the Arun Valley line are currently the worst performing in the region and this is partly why the upgrade works are needed. Over the past year, 61.7% of trains arrived at each station on the route within a minute of their scheduled time. By way of comparison, this is 14.2 percentage points lower than the Southern Railway average for the same period.
Taking key lines out of use for extended periods of time is not a decision that we take easily. However, by delivering this work over two weekends and a nine-day closure - we eliminate the need for the alternative of several bank holiday closures, supported by a long series of weekend closures over two to three years. This means that we can reduce the overall disruption and deliver benefits to customers faster.
Train services will be suspended along much of the Arun Valley line, as far as Three Bridges, and between Horsham and Dorking. Plans for alternative transport, including alternative routes and rail replacement buses are being developed and will be shared in good time to enable passengers to plan their journeys in advance.
Longer distance rail services such as from Portsmouth & Southsea or Chichester that would normally use the Arun Valley will be diverted via Hove and the Brighton Main Line.
More information on the upgrade is available at: www.networkrail.co.uk/arunvalley
World Mental Health Day marked with Southern station hubs
To mark World Mental Health Day (10th October), we held wellbeing hubs at Brighton and Eastbourne stations the following week as part of our ongoing work to support the health and wellbeing of our customers.
The hubs, held in partnership with Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust were staffed by a range of psychologists and therapists who were on hand to talk to passengers and the local community about any issues or concerns they have surrounding mental health. Southern's team of Wellbeing Champions were also available at each station for general advice and support, with the pilot marking the first partnership between Southern and an NHS trust to deliver localised mental health support collaboratively.
The mental health hub pilot scheme followed our recent 'Affirmation Art' campaign, which offered passengers messages of hope on World Suicide Prevention Day and highlighted the year-round effort the company puts into this topic.
Govia Thameslink Railway is UK's first rail operator to sign new homelessness charter
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), is the first train operating company to put its name to the Rough Sleeping on Rail Charter, introduced by Network Rail. The charter is a first for the industry and forms part of a wide-reaching programme of collaborative efforts to support a route out of homelessness for every person sleeping rough around the rail network. It was signed by Chief Operating Officer Steve White, and witnessed by NOAH - a homeless organisation in Luton and a long-standing official charity partner for GTR.
Signing the new charter reaffirms GTR's commitment to helping the vulnerable communities it serves. Last year, GTR launched the 'Great Sock Appeal', which collected more than 4,000 pairs of socks for homeless shelters across its route. This year, in addition to signing the charter, GTR is rolling out e-learning to all colleagues to help them support homeless people.
Homelessness in the UK is increasing year-on-year and has been heightened during the pandemic, with reports of rough sleepers up by 36%. The issue is particularly prevalent on the railway, which is why we have signed this charter to help safeguard vulnerable people and communities.
GTR doubles the number of female driver applicants in less than a year
This month Govia Thameslink Railway celebrated doubling the number of female train driver applicants from 413 in 2019, to 825 in 2020.
Our recruitment campaign, which has included working with organisations like Mumsnet, was centred around debunking stereotypes associated with careers in the rail industry and attracting a more diverse workforce which is vital for our business.
Whilst the progress made is encouraging, we have once again aiming to double the number of female train driver applicants by this time in 2021. Further commitments include improving diversity in teams across its entire talent pool, with the target of having a 50/50 gender split on all training programmes by the end of 2021.
If you are interested to hear the stories of three of our newly qualified female drivers - Paige Lunn (29), Lisa Gibbs (56) and Beau Hawkins (26) [pictured above], then click the links below.
• Paige used to work in retail but in her mid-twenties she decided she wanted a change. Read more here.
• Lisa initially applied to be a train driver when she was 21 years old. Over 30 years later she decided to try again. Read more here.
• Beau has been on the railway since she was 19. Read more here.
Great Northern trains save equivalent of over 4,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions after first year of full service
This month marked one year of full service for our new Class 717 trains on our Great Northern routes into Moorgate. Since entering service, they have already generated enough electricity through their brakes to power the equivalent of all the households of Welwyn and Hatfield Borough for a month, potentially saving more than 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
The 25 new Class 717 trains have delivered air conditioning, Wi-Fi, real-time information and power sockets at every seat which has seen passenger satisfaction soared 22 percentage points as a result.
In their short life to date, the trains are 33% more efficient than the Class 313 units that they replaced.
Great Northern MD Tom Moran was joined by Catherine West MP on Clean Air Day (Thursday 8 October), to mark the anniversary and celebrate the greener energy that our fleets are producing.
Across our combined fleets with regenerative braking - Southern Class 377s, Gatwick Express and Great Northern Class 387s and Thameslink Class 700s; more than 183 million kWh has been generated in the past 12 months, potentially saving more than 43,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
Go Ahead sustainability report highlights GTR's successes
GTR's commitment to its people, passengers and communities has been highlighted through the Go-Ahead sustainability reports which were published this week.
The reports highlight how we, together with other Go-Ahead companies, have worked with local suppliers to build strong communities across the UK. This includes collaborating with breweries and gin distilleries to produce hand sanitiser, setting up contracts with small cleaning companies to support the enhanced cleaning taking place due to COVID-19 and working with tech companies to help speed up delay repay claims.
Throughout the pandemic we have supported and served their communities in new ways, including amending train timetables support our key workers. In addition, we are supporting greener ways of travelling with the launch of the UK's largest EV charging hub at Hatfield Station, as well increasing spaces at Haywards Heath. In addition, we are supporting greener ways of travelling with the launch of the UK's largest EV charging hub at Hatfield Station, as well increasing spaces at Haywards Heath.
To read the full report click here.
Award-winning Gatwick Express artist surprised with goodies
GTR's Gatwick Express may be temporarily postponed however the excitement of the service was brought to life by July Alate from Goring who won an award from the Royal Academy of Arts for recreating our iconic red train.
July, who has autism, is a huge fan of the Gatwick Express and we loved her work and enthusiasm so much that we posted to her a jacket and teddy bear as a surprise gift. According to her mum, July would be sure to wear the jacket when the exhibition is previewed.
With Thameslink set to be returning tube maps in the coming months, we have been featured in Geoff Marshall's World Cup of Tube Lines and have made it to the final! Geoff, who is an avid rail enthusiast and Youtuber, is holding the contest on Twitter as a bit of fun and we are thrilled to be in the last two. Here is the semi final result, and look out for the final on Friday and please vote if you can!