Tom Brake MP called for the Transport Secretary to walk the plank during an Urgent Question in the House of Commons yesterday about the ongoing chaos brought on by GTR’s new rail timetable.
Speaking afterwards on rail compensation, Tom said:
“There is absolute pandemonium on our railways and it’s all happening under the less-than-watchful eye of our inept Transport Secretary. He has been GTR’s biggest cheerleader for the last two years and is now deflecting any Ministerial responsibility for the catastrophic timetable changes.
“It is very telling that Mr Grayling failed to answer my question about compensation. Thousands of Carshalton & Wallington residents are having their lives affected daily by this chaos -- arriving late to work and school, missing appointments and exams -- and yet he refuses to confirm that residents will have all the information they need to be properly compensated should their trains be late or cancelled.”
On Grayling blocking rail devolution in London, Tom said:
“Shamefully, the Transport Secretary still refuses to recognise that there was a consensus among MPs and local representatives to devolve suburban rail services to TfL.
“He is yet again putting party politics ahead of common sense -- and in the process, betraying the rail passengers he is duty-bound to stand up for as Transport Secretary.”
During the exchange, Tom Brake MP said:
“For four years, GTR have failed to run services efficiently and provide sufficient drivers. So, before he walks the plank, will the Secretary of State do two things?
“First of all, confirm that any compensation that is going to be paid will be based on the timetable they should have been running or indeed better than that?
“And secondly, will he consider reversing a u-turn that he performed some months ago? He had proposed handing over the services in suburban London to the Mayor when the Foreign Secretary was the Mayor of London. He then changed his mind when Sadiq Khan became the Mayor. WIll he reconsider that decision?”
Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling MP responded:
“Mr Speaker, I never took that decision in the first place. It is my view that services running outside London should not be controlled by an elected representative inside London. And the approach we have taken in the North and we have offered in London and which we are doing in the West Midlands and elsewhere is one of partnership, so you can have involvement from both sides. That's the right way to do it.
“But of course the issue when people talk about handing over to the Mayor - the London Overground is a franchise run by Arriva, the same company that runs Northern, so I'm at a loss as to why people think that's some kind of magic solution.”