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Author Topic: Shortage of train crews on Great Western Railway since September 2017 - ongoing discussion  (Read 133061 times)
IndustryInsider
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« Reply #1215 on: September 08, 2019, 12:16:22 pm »

Welcome to Sunday - needless to say the GWR website is advertising a good service running across the network.

All cancelled.

08:08 London Paddington to Didcot Parkway due 09:03
08:18 Reading to London Paddington due 08:51
08:34 London Paddington to Cheltenham Spa due 10:32
09:16 Didcot Parkway to London Paddington due 10:08
09:20 London Paddington to Newbury due 10:30
10:18 London Paddington to Cheltenham Spa due 12:29
10:49 London Paddington to Didcot Parkway due 11:42
11:11 Newbury to London Paddington due 12:25
11:25 Cheltenham Spa to London Paddington due 13:29
11:32 London Paddington to Paignton due 15:02
12:08 Didcot Parkway to London Paddington due 13:05
12:19 London Paddington to Cheltenham Spa due 14:31
14:00 Cheltenham Spa to London Paddington due 15:55
14:37 London Paddington to Cheltenham Spa due 16:44
15:45 Paignton to London Paddington due 19:40
15:46 Cheltenham Spa to London Paddington due 17:55
16:36 London Paddington to Cheltenham Spa due 18:32
18:00 Cheltenham Spa to London Paddington due 19:52
18:36 London Paddington to Cheltenham Spa due 20:29
20:00 Cheltenham Spa to London Paddington due 21:52
20:26 Weston-Super-Mare to London Paddington due 23:04

Very similar to the equivalent Sunday last year.  A couple more today, but cancellations are mostly focussed on 'less important' routes:

Summer holidays and the BBQ season are over, but...ÖÖÖÖit's Sunday so these are all cancelled because there aren't any crew available.

08:27 London Paddington to Cheltenham Spa due 10:43
09:24 Great Malvern to London Paddington due 12:08
10:27 London Paddington to Cheltenham Spa due 12:45
10:57 London Paddington to Penzance due 16:11
11:00 Bristol Temple Meads to London Paddington due 12:50
11:18 Cheltenham Spa to London Paddington due 13:30
11:27 London Paddington to Paignton due 15:03
13:33 Cheltenham Spa to London Paddington due 15:45
15:24 Swansea to London Paddington due 18:40
15:42 Plymouth to London Paddington due 19:29
15:45 Paignton to London Paddington due 19:50
16:13 Penzance to London Paddington due 21:42
16:22 London Paddington to Cheltenham Spa due 18:45
16:51 Swansea to London Paddington due 20:10
19:32 Cheltenham Spa to London Paddington due 21:45
20:57 London Paddington to Exeter St Davids due 23:35
21:30 London Paddington to Swansea due 00:53

How long will the list be next year, when many more Sunday trains are in the pipeline?

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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #1216 on: September 09, 2019, 12:01:25 pm »

We must be getting pretty close to GWR failing to meet their franchise commitment by failing to run so many trains, throughout the week but especially on Sundays due to crew shortage.  Perhaps a DfT fine for every service cancelled with this excuse may concentrate a few minds & catalyse a solution. I get that GWR are happy to cancel services & inconvenience customers rather than spend money to buy out Ts & Cs, but perhaps a metaphorical kick up the backside is needed, unless they wish to look even more ridiculous come December.
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« Reply #1217 on: September 09, 2019, 01:19:05 pm »

I'd have thought we are some way off of that to be honest.  I know statistics can be skewed and interpreted in many ways, but I'll list some anyway:

After the real horror year of last year, GWR is now ahead of the national average 'cancellation'* figure by some margin.  In the last year 97.9% of all trains have run, against a national total of 97.2% - which includes cancellations due to all of the other reasons other than just crew shortages.  That situation is improving, albeit slowly, as the Moving Annual Average of cancellations has dropped from 2.5% to 2.1% for GWR over the last five months.

In the last period, which covered the height of the summer holiday shortages, GWR 'cancelled'* 2.8% of trains against the national figure of 4.1%.

When a list of cancellations is generally concentrated over one day, or one evening (as the recent ones you've listed for Friday evenings and Sunday's have been) it does look very bad.  And it is far short of what GWR should be aiming for of course, but taken in context for the whole week and compared with the list of trains which do run then the picture looks a little different.

* Defined as ĎHalf a cancellationí when a train fails to stop at one or more of its station stops, or ĎA full cancellationí when a train completes less than 50% of its planned journey.
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« Reply #1218 on: September 09, 2019, 01:21:15 pm »

We must be getting pretty close to GWR failing to meet their franchise commitment by failing to run so many trains, throughout the week but especially on Sundays due to crew shortage.  Perhaps a DfT fine for every service cancelled with this excuse may concentrate a few minds & catalyse a solution. I get that GWR are happy to cancel services & inconvenience customers rather than spend money to buy out Ts & Cs, but perhaps a metaphorical kick up the backside is needed, unless they wish to look even more ridiculous come December.

I though I'd done a bit of contract gardening on this, but apparently not. The franchise agreement contains two mechanisms, breach and default, with defined levels for both. For the current period (2019/20 P6) these are:
Measurebreachdefault
Cancellation1.06%1.10%
TOC Minutes delay*20.3421.23
*per 1000 train miles

Now the terms breach and default are used throughout the contract text with similar meanings - not complying with the cotract - but presumably they are distinct to the lawyers who wrote this. One imagines that a default is more serious, and perhaps might permit the SoS to cancel without any specified preliminaries, but I can't find any such words. For breach, there are preliminaries:

From schedule 1.2 Operating Obligations (Daily Operating Obligations)
Quote
1.2 The Franchisee shall ensure that its performance in each Reporting Period, calculated as a moving annual average in accordance with Schedule 7.1 (Performance Benchmarks), does not exceed (that is, is neither equal to or worse than) each Breach Performance Level in respect of that Reporting Period. It shall be a contravention by the Franchisee of the terms of the Franchise Agreement if its performance exceeds (that is, is equal to or worse than) any Breach Performance Level in any Reporting Period.

From Schedule 7 Performance Benchmarks
Quote
4 Consequences for Poor Performance
4.1 The Franchisee shall procure that in each Reporting Period the moving annual average of:
(a) Cancellations and Partial Cancellations (calculated in accordance with paragraph 2.2 of this Schedule 7.1) does not exceed (that is, is neither equal to nor worse than) the Breach Performance Levels and the Default Performance Levels specified in the cells relating to each such Reporting Period in the Cancellations Benchmark Table; and
(b) the Minutes Delay occurring in respect of the Passenger Services which are attributable to the Franchisee (including in accordance with paragraph 2.9 of this Schedule 7.1) per 1000 Train Miles actually operated (calculated in accordance with paragraph 2.5 of this Schedule 7.1) does not exceed (that is, is neither equal to nor worse than) the Breach Performance Levels and the Default Performance Levels specified in the cells relating to such Reporting Period in the TOC Minute Delay Benchmark Table.
4.2 Certain consequences of the Franchiseeís performance exceeding (that is, equalling or being worse than) the Breach Performance Levels and Default Performance Levels relating to each Benchmark are set out in Schedule 10 (Remedies, Termination and Expiry).

From Schedule 10.3 Events of Default and Termination Events
Quote
1. Provisions Relating to Events of Default
Contravention
1.1 The occurrence of an Event of Default shall constitute a contravention of the Franchise Agreement by the Franchisee.
Notification of Event of Default
1.2 The Franchisee shall notify the Secretary of State as soon as reasonably practicable on, and in any event within 24 hours of, it becoming aware of the occurrence of an Event of Default or an event which is likely to result in the occurrence of an Event of Default. The Franchisee shall take such action or steps as the Secretary of State may require to remedy any Event of Default or potential Event of Default.
Consequences of Event of Default
1.3 On the occurrence of an Event of Default, the provisions of Schedule 10.1 (Remedial Plans and Remedial Agreements) shall apply.
2. Events of Default
Each of the following is an Event of Default:
...
Passenger Service Performance
2.6 The Franchiseeís performance in relation to any Benchmark exceeds (that is, is equal to or worse than) the Default Performance Level for that Benchmark for:
(a) any three consecutive Reporting Periods;
(b) any four Reporting Periods within a period of 13 consecutive Reporting Periods; or
(c) any five Reporting Periods within a period of 26 consecutive Reporting Periods.

All of these consequences are at the SoS's discretion, and there is a load of ... stuff about remedial agreements that I'm sure would be used as an alternative in the first instance (and possibly several more times).
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« Reply #1219 on: September 09, 2019, 04:15:21 pm »

To try to link the various performance measures together -

DfT in their franchise payments calculation use TOC delay minutes and Cancellations (including part-cancellations counted as 0.5). It says TOC delay minutes because it only counts delays due to the TOC. It does the same with cancellations, I'm sure, though for some reason the wording is different in that section and I can't find a clear statement that it does.

So the cancellations due to GWR, not NR or other TOCs, will be a fraction of the total - but I don't how big a fraction. Presumably all the staff shortages go down on their account, so you'd guess their total would have been at least half recently. If that's right then yes, they are worse than their breach level, and in contravention.

The franchise formulas do include a link to the ORR's CASL and PPM - but only to alter the scale factor for penalty/bonus payments. There are some more details here (or you can always refer to the contract..)

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« Reply #1220 on: September 09, 2019, 04:49:40 pm »

So the cancellations due to GWR, not NR or other TOCs, will be a fraction of the total - but I don't how big a fraction. Presumably all the staff shortages go down on their account, so you'd guess their total would have been at least half recently. If that's right then yes, they are worse than their breach level, and in contravention.

The data you're referring to is published on page 2 of this link I think?

https://www.gwr.com/~/media/gwr/pdfs/about-us/performance/gwr-periodic-report-2005.pdf?la=en

The TOC on Self measure would cover things like driver shortages, and there is a graph for that at the bottom.  As you can see the Moving Annual Average is pretty much in line with the Target MAA - though where the target sits in terms of possible franchise breach is one for you, Stuving!  Wink  Either way it's clear how, despite two poor periods, that figure is a huge improvement on what was being recorded up until the end of last year.
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« Reply #1221 on: September 09, 2019, 08:14:11 pm »

The data you're referring to is published on page 2 of this link I think?

https://www.gwr.com/~/media/gwr/pdfs/about-us/performance/gwr-periodic-report-2005.pdf?la=en

The TOC on Self measure would cover things like driver shortages, and there is a graph for that at the bottom.  As you can see the Moving Annual Average is pretty much in line with the Target MAA - though where the target sits in terms of possible franchise breach is one for you, Stuving!  Wink  Either way it's clear how, despite two poor periods, that figure is a huge improvement on what was being recorded up until the end of last year.

I think that's right - those figures ought to be the ones sent to DfT (and the last graph is even labelled "TOC-on-self DfT cancellations"). But of course there's one big omission - the formulas DfT use in contracts are all normalised, dividing by the number of services or the total miles they run (per period, for one period's data). That means they can use the same numbers as targets and limits per year and per period.

Now, what are the targets GWR are quoting? Are they the ones in the contract? For this year those are 0.44% cancellations and 8.92 minutes/1000 miles. In both cases the breach level is a lot higher - 1.06% and 20.34. It's possible to work backwards from the figures GWR give, on the basis of that assumption, and it gives numbers (93636 services and 3.796 million miles per period), from which the latest values are well within the breach limits.

But something about the numbers looks wrong. First, the average length of a service is 40 miles - which seems too short. It would get you from London to Reading, but not even to Didcot. Secondly, the cancellaions target on the graph has roughly doubled in the last two years, rising all the way. Since the target as a percentage hasn't changed, that can only mean the number of services has doubled. Again, that doesn't sound right to me.

And that last graph does suggest that at the peak of the MAA last year, it would have been well over the breach limit. Maybe GWR pleaded, and were allowed, special circumstances. But there are other details that look unlikely too. So ... conclusions deferred pending better data.

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« Reply #1222 on: September 10, 2019, 09:05:21 am »

Many thanks stuving for your excellent analysis and insight to the figure breakdowns, etc.
Wonderful  Grin
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« Reply #1223 on: September 10, 2019, 09:15:50 am »

I wouldnít be surprised if 40 miles average is about right.  Hourly services to far flung destinations would soon be counterbalanced when you factor in thrice hourly Windsor services and other short distance trains.
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« Reply #1224 on: September 10, 2019, 06:02:34 pm »

Many thanks stuving for your excellent analysis and insight to the figure breakdowns, etc.
Wonderful  Grin

Hear Hear!  Smiley
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« Reply #1225 on: September 10, 2019, 07:53:56 pm »

If anyone can clear very muddied waters, itís Stuving!
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« Reply #1226 on: September 28, 2019, 04:12:13 pm »

Good to see itís all gone quiet on this thread, for the time being at least.  Itís the annual staff jolly today so Iím a little surprised and pleased there isnít a list of cancellations.
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« Reply #1227 on: September 28, 2019, 04:55:56 pm »

Good to see itís all gone quiet on this thread, for the time being at least.  Itís the annual staff jolly today so Iím a little surprised and pleased there isnít a list of cancellations.

Sadly, the TransWilts thread on the same topic is not so quite and my log for the last 7 full days shows 7 services out of 119 (5.8%) effected by shortage of crews - one significantly late and 6 cancelled.  I think there were at least 2 more cancelled and re-instated.

Does "we will give special attention to the TransWilts and [3 others]" - from a GWR manager last year, seem to have become a rather different form of special attention to we would have liked ... the bottom of the barrel.
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« Reply #1228 on: September 28, 2019, 06:12:31 pm »

Good to see itís all gone quiet on this thread, for the time being at least.  Itís the annual staff jolly today so Iím a little surprised and pleased there isnít a list of cancellations.

Tomorrow's service will be interesting I guess...ÖÖ...see how many turn up for work depending on hangovers!  Wink
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« Reply #1229 on: September 28, 2019, 06:30:42 pm »

Indeed, though itís more of a family day out than a session!
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