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Troubled Southern Rail gets £20m improvement package from the government

PUBLISHED: 11:37 01 September 2016 | UPDATED: 11:37 01 September 2016

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A senior rail industry figures has been drafted in to help rail performance

The Department for Transport has created a £20million fund to help improve the troubled Southern rail network.

Passengers using the service, operated by GTR, ranked it as the joint-lowest for customer satisfaction in a national rail service survey earlier this year.

Now the government has brought in a senior rail industry figure and created the multi-million fund to help turn the business around.

Former Virgin Rail CEO Chris Gibb will head a new project board working with the train operator, alongside the DfT and Network Rail.

According to his LinkedIn page, Mr Gibb, who has worked in the rail industry for 35 years, has also worked as a senior adviser for Texas Central Railway in the US and is a non-executive director at Network Rail.

From the fund, £2m will be spent on rapid response teams to fix train fails more quickly, by locating the teams close to well-known fault hotspots.

Meanwhile £2.5m will spent on speeding up the maintenance of the train.

The rail service is currently under pressure after months of dispute with rail union RMT has led to the service cutting more than 340 of its services, including those in Ashford, Tonbridge and Bromley.

From next week the service is set to restore some of these services.

Now the transport secretary is urging the union and GTR to begin to work together.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: “I want the Southern network to be run by a team of people who work together to make sure passengers get decent journeys and that problems are dealt with quickly.

“This review will suggest how we achieve a joined up approach to running the train and tracks and make things work better for the public.

“We also need to get to grips with things that go wrong on this part of the network. That is why we are putting in place a £20m scheme to tackle the cause of breakdowns that too often cause frustrating and damaging delays on the network.

“I now urge the industry, the train operating company and unions to work together to improve services for passengers.”

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