FINES issued to Govia Thameslink (GTR) for poor performance have been slammed as insignificant by unions and MPs.

The troubled rail provider, which runs Southern, Gatwick Express and Thameslink services, is being paid around £8.9 billion over the course of the seven year franchise agreement.

However, despite the continued dismal performance, the Department for Transport (DfT) has issued fines of just £2 million since GTR took over in September 2014.

That equates to just 0.02 per cent of the public money GTR is being paid to run the service.

Even if GTR continues to get fined at the same rate up until the end of the agreement in 2021, it will come to less than 0.01per cent (0.078 per cent) of the total they receive.

The figures have led to further criticism of the so called risk free contract GTR has struck with the DfT.

GTR is protected from falls in revenue as all profit it makes from ticket sales is sent directly to the DfT.

In return DfT pays GTR a franchise fee, which it is estimated will total nearly £9 billion by 2021.

Many have criticised the deal, arguing GTR has no incentive to improve performance.

However, Rail Minister Claire Perry MP disputed the claim in an interview with The Argus earlier this week.

She added that GTR's share price has dropped 18 per cent this week.

Peter Kyle, MP for Hove, is among those who have criticised the deal. He said: "This amount is a drop in the ocean in comparison to the overall sums the DfT pay GTR to operate the franchise.

"Instead of this merry go round with money going back and forth between the DfT and GTR, it should be put into a proper compensation scheme for the commuters who’ve endured a terrible service over the last six months."

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT, said the franchise deal enabled Govia to make money out of poor performance levels.

He said: "This is a unique franchise even by the standards of Britain's privatised and failing railways.

"All of the risk is carried by the taxpayer and the passenger with Govia even able to make money out of performance levels below 20 per cent.

"The company could and should be sacked today."

A spokesman for GTR dismissed the claims and said the fines "bite deep" into their tight profit margins.

He said: "Unlike other train companies, we take none of the money from ticket sales and this franchise costs a huge amount to run. Every day alone we pay Network Rail £1 million for the use of the track, the power to run our trains and our 236 stations, on top of which we have to lease the trains and pay our 6,500 staff.

"Last year we made a loss and the forecast profit for the life of the franchise has just been halved to 1.5 per cent, which is very low for any business."