The Stress of Commuting

Ah, commuting… The joys of standing on a freezing cold railway platform, where everyone looks really miserable for some reason, waiting for your train to arrive. Usually late. Usually with not enough carriages for the number of people wanting to squeeze on. Usually with those carriages already full anyway after calling at stations along the way, leaving you waiting for the next one to come along. But, what happens when the trains are cancelled altogether?

• People being late for work
• People not arriving at work at all
• People being sacked for failing to meet their contractual requirements

So, where did it all go wrong?

Advertised as a service boost, three weeks ago new rail schedules were introduced. Now two franchises have gone into meltdown. One being Govia Thameslink Railway, which runs routes from Brighton to Luton and beyond, via London. The other being Northern Rail, which covers cities including Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds. Problems included cancellations, delays and confusion, with sometimes, two out of three trains failing to run at all. Adding to the problems, Northern Rail also had two days of strikes to contend with (with more planned for June).

Why?

The problem seems to be a lack of drivers available to service the new schedules. Both companies claim that they employ enough drivers to be able to cope. But employing them is simply not enough. All drivers need to be trained both on the train model they are to drive and on the route they are to operate. New drivers need to be trained by existing, qualified, drivers, which only goes to increase the shortage.

This has been caused by a number of issues all coming to a head at once and the people that suffer the most are, as usual, the service users – the general public.

How can HR and managers deal with the impact transport problems incur?

OK, so some members of staff have been late or not turned up at all due to no fault of their own. The effects of this can be loss of productivity, deadlines not being met and a feeling of negativity from those people that have been able to make it to work. The transport blip would usually be a short-term issue. We would suggest trying the following:-

• Show a little understanding and patience
• Encourage the individual to make the time up
• Look into working from home options for any future occurrences
• Encourage the employee to looking into alternative methods of transport
• Attempt to boost the morale of those ‘negative’ people

Hopefully, the rail industry will get it right next time…