You can read 19 more articles this month
CHRIS GRAYLING was accused of “going into hiding” yesterday after he jetted off to Qatar.
The Tory Transport Secretary’s flight to the Gulf meant he escaped the wrath of angry commuters on the day rail fares were raised yet again.
In rainy Blighty his Labour opposite number Andy McDonald was due to join protests against the fare rises in Leeds. But on his way from London the Virgin Trains East Coast service ground to a halt, prompting him to record a video message.
The shadow transport secretary hit out at the fare rises — the highest in five years — and the recent decision to end the East Coast franchise early, saving parent companies Virgin and Stagecoach billions of pounds in planned premiums.
“[The train has] run out of power, a bit like the Tories,” he quipped.
“But this is on the same line that’s had the benefit of a £2 billion payout the last few weeks, and of course it comes hot on the heels of an announcement they have a 3.6 per cent increase in fares.
“If anything has demonstrated just how broken the system is, it’s this today.”
The government said Mr Grayling had skedaddled to Qatar for meetings with officials there, but Mr McDonald said: “The Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has gone into hiding, unable to defend today’s 3.6 per cent fares hike and refusing to explain the £2bn taxpayer bailout of Virgin East Coast.”
RMT general secretary Mick Cash fumed: “Chris Grayling knew that the fares story would be top of the news agenda today. But instead of being available to defend his government’s Great Rail Rip-off he booked himself a winter escape to the Qatari sunshine.
“[Passengers] will draw their own conclusions from the Transport Secretary’s decision to book himself a trip to the desert rather than face the music.”
Mr Cash joined a demo outside King’s Cross station in London, where he handed out sweets branded with the union’s campaign to save train guards.
Across the capital at Paddington station, Labour youth activists joined the local RMT branch to leaflet commuters.
GMB activist and Labour Students vice-chair Lara McNeill told the Star: “Real wages are falling and rail fares are becoming a bigger and bigger percentage of young people’s earnings.”
Virgin declined to comment on Mr McDonald’s travel troubles.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.