The chaos of our rail network has been laid bare by the recent timetable changes. Commuters are missing work interviews and appointments, rejigging their schedules if employers are sympathetic – or facing disciplinaries if they aren’t. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has had to appear in the Commons with his job on the line. Brilliant at pointing the finger and passing the buck, Grayling blames Network Rail and the train companies equally but his own dithering about major rail projects – cancelled, then reinstated, then ‘paused’ – hasn’t helped – like East Mids electrification.
We know that the corner-cutting of profit-hungry private operators is a major factor. Northern has been reliant for years on drivers working their rest days; drivers are less willing to do so now. It takes a year to train a driver, and once qualified many leave for other companies offering better pay and conditions.
Labour believes in full, immediate rail re-nationalisation where the advantages of timetable co-ordination, through-ticketing, full staffing, cheap fares will be felt by the many not the few.
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