UPDATE: Jobs at risk as Southern Rail move sees on-board catering service ‘terminated’

Southern Rail terminates on-board catering service.  ENGSNL00120111220094914

Southern Rail terminates on-board catering service. ENGSNL00120111220094914

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Many jobs could be at risk after a decision by a rail service provider to cancel its on-board catering service.

On Sunday (July 26) the on-board trolley service on many Southern Rail trains came to an end.

Private catering company Rail Gourmet had been contracted to provide the service aboard Southern Rail trains across the south east.

However, due to the recent move which has seen Southern join the Govia Thameslink Railway franchise the company took the decision to terminate the service as it was no longer the most popular option with customers.

The cancellation has left many jobs at risk and has also resulted in the closure of three Rail Gourmet service centres including one in Lewes.

A spokesperson for Rail Gourmet said: “We can confirm that our contract with Southern Railway has come to an end early and at short notice as a result of Southern joining the Govia Thameslink Railway franchise.

“We can confirm that the termination of the contract will result in the closure of three service centres in Victoria, Lewes and Brighton.

“As a result, discussions with Rail Gourmet employees who have been affected by this decision have already started, and we are working hard to find alternative employment for them elsewhere in the company and with Southern Railway.

“It is therefore much too early to speculate about job losses, and all employment is paid throughout the consultation period.”

A spokesperson for Southern Rail explained the companies decision to end the service.

They said: “The popularity of station coffee shops and food outlets has steadily increased as we have invested in and developed our stations over the past few years with the majority of passengers opting to purchase food and drinks before they board their train.

“The number of customers who want to use the on-board trolley service tells us that this is no longer our customers’ preferred service and so our current on-board trolley service will end on the July 26 when Southern Railway joins the Govia Thameslink Railway franchise.

“We are working with Rail Gourmet to explore the possibility of helping their staff find employment with us going forward.”

A spokesperson for Govia Thameslink Railway added: “Bringing Southern, Gatwick Express, Thameslink and Great Northern into one franchise allows us to invest heavily in a better service for passengers.

“We’ve already brought in new trains on the Brighton Mainline and, as one company we’ll be able to completely recast this route’s timetable in December to give passengers a more reliable service.

“We’re introducing nearly 1,400 new train carriages, new routes, and 10,000 additional morning peak seats on crowded services into London with a 50 per cent increase in capacity.

“Smartcard ticketing will be extended and many of the stations will get a makeover, too, with more than £50 million being spent on everything from improving access to free Wi-Fi access. We’re also increasing staffing hours with 100 of our busiest stations staffed from first to last train.”

Related stories: Sussex rail operators join Thameslink franchise

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