Minister ‘sorry’ for disruption on the railways
EMBATTLED Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has apologised to rail commuters.
After a summer of timetable changes, cancellations and overcrowding on Northern and TransPennine services, Mr Grayling appeared on BBC One’s Inside Out for a special programme shining a spotlight on transport in the north of England.
Talking to presenters, Mr Grayling said: “I’m really sorry for the disruption we’ve had - it’s been a huge frustration to me because this was the introduction of a major new investment that didn’t work out at the start. I feel deeply sorry for the passengers affected. I’m sorry passengers were affected but I’m not sorry that we are putting money in to sort out both the problems this summer but more particularly the long term problems of the railways in the north.”
It’s not the first time Mr Grayling has apologised for passenger experiences – but he has repeatedly declined to accept responsibilty for how the railways are run.
A new timetable was launched in May and then suspended after weeks of disruption. Some of the schedule was then restored in July – but not for many Greater Manchester passengers.
All services were supposed to come back this month, but some passengers are still waiting.
But on the show, Mr Grayling added: “We’re now in a position in September where the timetable has stabilised. I’m not saying it’s perfect.
“We will, this autumn, see the start of all the new trains arriving. Every single train in the North of England is either being replaced by a brand new train or completely refurbished.”
He mentioned upgrades to the Trans Pennine line – set to become the ‘first alldigital mainline railway.’
On whether the railway should be handed back into public ownership – a change called for by Jeremy Corbyn – he said the network is ‘bursting at the seams,’ adding: “It wouldn’t matter if it was run by the government or a private company. It’s about integration of track and train, it’s about smarter working and new technology. It’s about how the railway is run, not about who owns it.”
The episode featured a panel discussion including Rossendale MP Jake Berry, Northern Powerhouse Minister whose constituency includes Whitworth who was a no-show at a convention this month centred around improving transport in the north.
Nicola Addyman, executive producer, said: “We want to closely examine what travelling around the north is really like for passengers and devote a whole programme to discussing the problems and holding to account those responsible for running our railways and transport policy.”
●●Children from Small World Nursery in Castleton visited elderly residents of Half Acre House Care Home for a teddy bears picnic