Grayling un­der fire over timetable fi­asco

Rail (UK) - - Network News -

Sec­re­tary of State for Trans­port Chris Grayling should take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the fail­ings of the new Govia Thames­link Rail­way timeta­bles in­tro­duced on May 20, the Lon­don Assem­bly says.

In a let­ter to Grayling seen by RAIL, Lon­don Assem­bly Trans­port Com­mit­tee Chair­man Caro­line Pid­geon out­lined a num­ber of is­sues sur­round­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of the new timeta­bles, in­clud­ing the fact that some were ap­proved just days be­fore the switchover date.

“It seems patently ob­vi­ous that there must have been a point at which GTR and other op­er­a­tors sim­ply wouldn’t have enough time to pre­pare their train di­a­grams and work sched­ules, and then to ros­ter their driv­ers,” she wrote.

Pid­geon also called for the “reliance” on rest-day work­ing for train­ing pur­poses to be “ur­gently ad­dressed”. She told Grayling: “We can­not think of another in­dus­try where work­ers have to carry out so much train­ing out­side their nor­mal work­ing hours. We heard that it could take six to nine months to learn a com­pletely new route on that ba­sis, which seems bound to cause prob­lems for op­er­a­tors.”

Grayling’s de­part­ment also came un­der fire as Pid­geon said the Class 700 trains were de­liv­ered late partly be­cause the De­part­ment for Trans­port was un­able to agree a deal for two years on how to fi­nance the elec­tric mul­ti­ple units.

And she said that while a com­pen­sa­tion pack­age for those af­fected is wel­comed, it should have been an­nounced sooner.

“Your de­part­ment needs to es­tab­lish a much quicker process to set up com­pen­sa­tion pack­ages for any fu­ture episodes of ma­jor, pro­longed dis­rup­tion,” she told Grayling.

In ad­di­tion, Pid­geon called on the In­dus­try Readi­ness Board - made up of Net­work Rail, the Of­fice of Rail and Road, train oper­at­ing com­pa­nies, Siemens, the De­part­ment for Trans­port and trans­port con­sul­tant Chris Green to man­age the timetable change - to ap­point ex­ter­nal voices in or­der to “pro­vide a use­ful chal­lenge to the in­dus­try group” in the fu­ture.

She said the Assem­bly was sur­prised that Trans­port for Lon­don does not have a pres­ence, de­spite the “ef­fect that the timetable fail­ure had on TfL’s own net­work” and the “high de­gree of in­ter­de­pen­dence of trans­port ser­vices in Lon­don”.

She added: “Set­ting up an In­dus­try Readi­ness Board to man­age this huge process may have been a good idea in the­ory, but it clearly failed in prac­tice. Cru­cially, there was no sin­gle con­trol­ling mind who was will­ing or able to put the process on hold.”

Pid­geon also ques­tioned the ap­point­ment of ORR Chair­man Stephen Glais­ter to lead the in­quiry into what went wrong, given the ORR was an “in­te­gral mem­ber” of the board. She pointed to a con­cern that mem­bers of the pub­lic may see the in­ves­ti­ga­tion as “lit­tle more than in­dus­try white­wash”.

Pid­geon con­cluded: “Pas­sen­ger con­fi­dence in the rail in­dus­try has been shaken by this episode. The rail in­dus­try is com­plex and frag­mented, and many parts of it have been at fault. But you, as Sec­re­tary of State, need to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the fail­ings of the in­dus­try here, and take steps to make sure it does not hap­pen again.”

Trans­port Sec­re­tary Chris Grayling is un­der fire from the Lon­don Assem­bly.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.