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TRANSPORT Secretary Chris Grayling refused to take personal responsibility for this summer’s timetable fiasco today, despite renewed calls for his resignation.
In the aftermath of a scathing report, Mr Grayling toured broadcast studios to claim that the chaos on the railways following the disastrous introduction of new timetables was somehow not his fault.
The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) criticised the Department for Transport (DfT), Network Rail and train operators for their “failures” to identify the risk of disruption and said the rail industry had “placed engineering and planning concerns ahead of serving its passengers.”
But Mr Grayling said he did not want to “point the finger at individuals,” suggesting that it was “a system problem” which led to hundreds of cancellations a day for commuters on the Northern and Thameslink networks.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the DfT was “wrong” to accept at face value that the timetable change would not cause serious problems.
However, he added: “When you have the leaders of the industry sitting in your office saying: ‘We are ready for this,’ it’s tough for any politician to overrule the advice of the professionals.”
When asked whether he deserved to still be in a job, Mr Grayling said: “My job, in my view, is to get this sorted.”
The Transport Secretary also dismissed public support for taking the railways back into public ownership, telling Sky News: “Renationalisation does not deliver the answers.”
He added: “What matters is we have a railway that works, that’s more joined-up and it’s actually not about ownership.”
But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said British railways are in “a complete shambles,” adding that Mr Grayling is “totally incapable of running the railways and fails to grasp how to improve them. We need change.”
The government also announced a “sweeping review” of Britain’s railways, which will not report back until next year with “reforms” not starting until 2020 at the earliest.
Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: “Rail passengers don’t need another review from the Tories to tell them that rail is broken. Another review is meaningless in a year of rocketing fares, failing franchises and timetabling chaos.
“Another review lets Chris Grayling off the hook. The railways need a Labour government which will deliver public ownership of rail.”
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