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Great Northern, Southern, Thameslink and Northern trains cancelled and delayed

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Rail disruption is continuing on a day dubbed "Meltdown Monday" by unions after new timetables were introduced.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) rescheduled every service on its Great Northern, Thameslink and Southern franchise as part of an overhaul billed as the biggest in the UK.

The operator apologised after it cancelled dozens of trains, hours after its new timetable began on Sunday.

It confirmed disruption was continuing on Monday.

Passengers in the north of England are also reporting delays and cancellations as rail routes covered by Northern, which operates services from Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle, saw train times and stopping patterns change from Sunday.

The RMT called today "Meltdown Monday" and said it should "spell the end of the privatised chaos on Britain's railways".

The Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern rail franchise includes services to Bedford, Luton, Peterborough, King's Lynn, Cambridge, London King's Cross, London Moorgate, Wimbledon and Brighton.

GTR has called the new timetable "the biggest change to rail timetables in a generation" and said "we expect some disruption to services in the initial stages".

On Monday, a spokesperson said that "despite some cancellations, passengers will benefit from an overall increase in capacity with immediate effect".

On Sunday, GTR apologised for "any inconvenience caused" to passengers, calling the changes a "significant logistical challenge".

Why are there timetable changes?
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) said it was rescheduling every train in its franchise in an attempt to improve rail efficiency in the South East.

It said the timetable changes would mean a 13% increase in services across the GTR network - 400 extra trains a day and new direct services from 80 stations into central London, creating space for 50,000 extra passengers at peak times.

Arriva Rail North Ltd, which runs the Northern franchise, said its timetable changes would result in an extra 1,300 services added to the network.

It said 90% of the services would be affected by the changes.

Passengers have been advised to check with National Rail Enquiries before planning their journey.

What do the rail operators say?
A GTR spokesman said: "Due to the scale and complexity of the task, these changes will be made incrementally.

"This involves redeploying drivers and trains and changing operating practices to achieve a large increase in the number of services, carriages and station stops."

An Arriva Rail North Ltd spokesman said: "This is a significant operational challenge, and given the late nature of the planning for this, we do expect some localised service disruption, which could happen at very short notice while the new timetable beds in.

"We will continue to do everything we can to ensure we minimise any service disruption and keep customers informed."

What do passengers think?
As the new timetable faces its first real test as commuters return to work, frustrated passengers have been tweeting to complain about disruption on Govia Thameslink services.

One said: "[The] 0528 from Haywards Heath was cancelled, and I believe it will continue to be cancelled until early June. Less than impressive start to the brave new world!"

Another passenger wrote: "Going well I'd say. My one train instead of 4 of the hour isn't running."

Passengers in a number of smaller locations have complained they will be served with fewer or slower services.

Emily Ketchin, founder of campaign group Harpenden Thameslink Commuters, said: "We are actually losing a third of key services in the morning and we're also getting longer journey times.

"Even before the cuts it was a very overcrowded service... and it's going to get a lot more difficult."

Those using the Northern franchise this morning are using the hashtag #NorthernFail to express their displeasure.

How bad was the service before?
Four Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) services were among the 10 least punctual in Great Britain.

For the year to the end of April 2018, between one in four and one in five of their commuter trains were at least five minutes late arriving at their terminating stations.

Thameslink trains, the only GTR service which does not appear in the top 10 for delays, arrived on schedule about 86% of the time.

There are 54 services in Great Britain measured for punctuality in figures published by Network Rail.

The public performance measure (PPM) treats commuter services as late if they arrive at their terminating station five or more minutes after their scheduled time. For long distance services it is 10 minutes.

What do the unions say?
Unions said they understood the disruption was because there were not enough fully-trained drivers.

The RMT said it had reports from both Northern and GTR of a "hopeless lack of planning, combined with a shortage of crew and fleet, which has reduced the Monday morning journey to a nightmare for many passengers".

General secretary Mick Cash said: "It is our members dealing with the anger at the sharp end not the well-paid top brass from Arriva and Govia who are responsible for this Meltdown Monday on our railways.

"Both of these companies have sought to compromise safety and access by hacking back on critical staff and it is no surprise to RMT that they can't be trusted with the massive logistical challenges of bringing in new timetables.

"Frankly I wouldn't trust the private train operators to run a bath let alone our vital rail routes."

The Aslef union said not enough drivers had been trained on new routes and rolling stock.

An official said the union had asked the company to start training drivers last summer, but it only started in February.

"It's very sad. We welcome investment, we welcome new routes and we welcome new timetables if they work but believe GTR do not know how to run a railway," he said.

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