Minister questioned on Southern Rail

In a statement on rail infrastructure the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, said that the Government wants an integrated approach between train services and infrastructure and track works to reduce delays for commuters. He said:

“This is not rocket science. If the trains are being run from over here and the tracks from over there, when things go wrong we get two separate teams waving contracts at each other rather than working together.

This is about forging teamwork on the ground to respond to challenges, to plan better and to deliver a better service to passengers.”

The statement comes following chronic delays and cancellations due to track and infrastructure works and union strike action.

I asked if this approach will put passengers first:

“Network Rail recently carried out upgrades worth £3 million on the line running through Fareham in my constituency. Does the Secretary of State agree that this announcement will mean a greater focus on passengers?

There are still so many commuters from Fareham who struggle because of troubles with Southern Rail. A more joined-up and coordinated approach will be a step in the right direction towards ensuring that commuters have better journeys to work.”

The Transport Secretary responded:

“Three things need to happen to deal with the issues on Southern. The first is that we need much more joined-up working.

 Secondly, we will have to put more money into the Southern infrastructure, which is clearly under great stress. It is a very intensively used railway, and not enough has been spent on it over the years.

Above all, we just need to get the workforce back to work. The bizarre thing is that the 10-coach train that I often take to Victoria in the morning has a driver and no guard, and it has been like that for years. Why on earth are the drivers and the guards on Southern putting the passengers through such enormous distress when no one is in danger of losing their job? It is shocking.

 I would like to hear one word of condemnation from the Labour party. Do we ever hear any condemnation of its union paymasters? The answer is no, not for a moment.”