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We'd like to offer you our sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused to you if your journey was cancelled due to one of our drivers not being available. We fully appreciate how frustrating it is to hear that your service has been cancelled due to a 'lack of a driver'.
You might be asking 'why don't we employ enough drivers?' - the simple answer is we do. However, the wider situation is a little trickier to explain. So, we've provided some background below, which will hopefully shed more light as to why your service was cancelled and what we're doing about it.
In the meantime, we're strongly advising you to check your journey ahead of travel, either by visiting National Rail Enquiries, signing up to our FREE Journey Check tool, downloading our app or visiting our website. You'll also be able to use your ticket on other train operator services.
What is a 'Rest Day Working Agreement'?
Before we explain the current issue we're facing, it's important to explain what a 'rest day working agreement' is. In a nutshell, a ‘rest day working agreement’ is an opportunity for train drivers to increase their salary by working overtime. Drivers can do this by covering services that are unstaffed - these services might be unstaffed due to any number of reasons, many of which are often sudden or happen with short-notice. Choosing to work on a rest day is a completely voluntary choice for a driver. Indeed, these agreements are common within the rail industry and we have used these for a number of years.
So What's the Issue?
Two years ago, the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen(ASLEF), the train driver union, withdrew its rest day working agreement over a dispute regarding the introduction of a four-day working week for drivers. It was agreed that an independent person would look into the feasibility of introducing a four-day working week for drivers, provided there was no impact on resource costs to our business. Rest day working was reintroduced in an agreement that saw drivers paid up-front in recognition that it remained in place through to October 2016.
The review has now finished and concluded that a four-day week cannot be implemented without significant resource costs to our business. Unfortunately, ASLEF’s Executive Committee has refused to accept the conclusions of this review and have now withdrawn rest day working and will not enter any further discussions on the matter.
ASLEF has walked away from a long-term agreement that was due to expire in October 2016 and, at this stage, we do not expect to regain this before the end of our franchise as they have stated they are not willing to discuss this matter any further.
A Statement From Our Operations Director
Paul Watson, Operations Director at First TransPennine Express, said:
“We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused to customers and fully appreciate the frustration felt at service disruptions caused because of short term driver shortages. While we do have enough drivers to run our normal timetable, there are occasions where we rely on drivers to work on their rest days, for example, to cover drivers who are restricted from driving duties on medical grounds.
“This is achieved through what is known as a 'voluntary rest day working agreement’ with the drivers. Unfortunately, the drivers’ union, ASLEF, has now ceased this agreement without notice which means we’re experiencing challenges in covering some services. Please be assured we’re doing everything we can to keep disruption to a minimum and to make sure customers are provided with travel advice in advance of their journeys.”