Min­is­ter ‘sorry’ for dis­rup­tion on the rail­ways

Rochdale Observer - - FRONT PAGE - Char­lotte.cox@men-news.co.uk @ccox­men­media

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

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