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The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has said that transport secretary Chris Grayling “should get out” following 12 days of disruption to rail services caused by time table changes.
Passengers on Northern and Thameslink continue to face chaos on their lines after what RMT calls a ‘Dirty Dozen’ days of disruption following the introduction of a new timetable that was meant to increase capacity on certain routes.
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham labelled the Northern service “unacceptably poor”, calling for an investigation into whether the company is in breach of its franchise agreement.
More than 2,000 services have been cancelled since 18 May. Burnham says rumours that Northern will introduce an emergency timetable from Monday that could reduce services by 50 per cent is “unacceptable” and that passengers are “having their lives turned upside down”.
Northern has blamed the problems on staff shortages and a delay to line electrification work being carried out by Network Rail.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “It is absolutely disgusting that those responsible for the carnage on our railways over the past 12 days – Chris Grayling and his private train companies – have dived for cover rather than face the passengers they have hung out to dry.
“Meanwhile, [RMT] members, working at the sharp end of the cancelled and delayed services, are bearing the brunt of the public anger without a shred of support from Govia, Arriva or the Department for Transport.
“Not only is Chris Grayling incompetent and not fit to run a railway, but he is a coward as well, leaving RMT members to take the flack for failed policies that are his responsibility. Grayling should get out, the private companies he is propping up should be sacked and the vital rail services the nation depends on should be returned to public ownership.”
Grayling wrote to MPs earlier this week to say he had commissioned a report to “ensure lessons are learned” by the timetable failures. He said he expects disruption to lessen over the coming month and criticised Network Rail for being unable to “cope” with the changes.