Transport Secretary Chris Grayling accused of ‘insulting commuters’ by not stripping crisis-hit train company of its franchise after timetable chaos
- Govia Thameslink Railway has been asked to pay £15million to improve services
- That is on top of £15million compensation it has been ordered to pay passengers
- Any profits it makes this year will also be docked, and profits capped until 2021
- But the measures have since been labelled a ‘half-hearted slap on the wrists’
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has been accused of insulting rail passengers by giving a train operator at the centre of this year’s timetable chaos a ‘half-hearted slap on the wrists’.
Yesterday he announced that Govia Thameslink Railway, which runs Thameslink, Great Northern and Southern, will have to pay £15million to improve services, on top of the £15million compensation it has to pay passengers.
Any profits it makes this year will also be docked, and profits will be capped until the end of its contract in 2021.
But the Department for Transport said it would not strip the operator – which made £70million in pre-tax profits last year – of its franchise, arguing this would ’cause further and undue disruption’.
Chris Grayling (pictured) yesterday announced that Govia Thameslink Railway, which runs Thameslink, Great Northern and Southern, will have to pay £15million to improve services
Any profits Govia Thameslink Railway (pictured) make this year will also be docked, and profits will be capped until the end of its contract in 2021
Yesterday, transport committee chairman Lilian Greenwood said Mr Grayling still ‘hasn’t got the message’ and urged him to freeze fares for Thameslink, Great Northern, Northern and TransPennine Express passengers.
The committee’s scathing report said the botched introduction of a new timetable in May was a result of a ‘system wide failure’, with government officials, rail bosses and regulators showing ‘extraordinary complacency’.
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Branding Mr Grayling a ‘specialist in failure’, Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: ‘His half-hearted slap on the wrists for GTR is a pathetic insult to the many thousands of passengers who have suffered daily misery at the hands of this basket case franchise.’
But Anthony Smith of watchdog Transport Focus said the fine would ‘take some of the sting out of the frustration many passengers have felt.’
Mr Grayling said he had apologised ‘many, many times’, and told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘At no point did I get the information I would have needed to intervene.’
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