Brighton MP urges Prime Minister to sack Grayling, freeze fares and strip GTR of Southern trains franchise

Posted On 15 Dec 2016 at 4:00 am

Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas urged the Prime Minister Theresa May to sack Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, freeze fares and strip GTR of the Southern trains franchise.

The Green MP slated Mr Grayling at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons yesterday (Wednesday 14 December).

She said: “I do not think the Prime Minister has any idea of the level of pain that rail passengers and businesses in Brighton and beyond are suffering.

“It is not just on strike days. This has been going on for well over 18 months.

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“Given the failure of her passive Transport Secretary, who apparently has no intention of acting to deal with this utterly incompetent company, will she sack him, strip GTR of the franchise and freeze fares for long-suffering passengers?”

Mrs May said: “First of all, my right honourable friend the Transport Secretary has been taking steps in relation to the general performance of Southern railway.

Caroline Lucas

Caroline Lucas

“We have stepped in to invest £20 million specifically to tackle the issue and bring a rapid improvement in services.

“We announced ‘Delay Repay 15’ from (Sunday) 11 December for the whole of Southern railway, which will make it easier for passengers to claim compensation.

“We have announced that we will give passengers who are season ticket holders on Southern a refund for a month’s travel.

“We have been looking at the wider issue.

“The honourable lady raises the question of the current strike. There is only one body responsible for the current strike, and that is Aslef.

“This a strike by the trade unions and she should be standing up and condemning that strike because it is passengers who suffer.”

Earlier the Conservative MP for East Worthing and Shoreham Tim Loughton also put a question to the Prime Minister.

He said: “Today, a constituent of mine from Shoreham will struggle to get to University College Hospital, London, for life-saving cancer drug trials.

“And across Sussex thousands of others will be unable to get to work, to school or to college because Aslef objects to their drivers on Southern operating the doors.

“Yet today, Aslef drivers will be driving Thameslink trains on the same rails, operating the doors on the London to Brighton line.

“Can the Prime Minister give her assurance that everything will be done at the ACAS talks today to end this nonsense of a strike, address any residual safety issues and give our constituents their lives back?”

Mrs May said: “My honourable friend is absolutely right to raise this issue. This is an appalling strike and he is right to raise the discrepancy in the attitude of Aslef.

“We have seen driver-only operated trains on rail networks in the UK for decades and they are on Thameslink.

Theresa May

Theresa May

“I hope that the talks at ACAS are going to lead to an end to this strike but I have a suggestion for the Leader of the Opposition as he could do something to help members of the public.

“The Labour Party is funded by Aslef. Why does he not get on the phone and tell it to call the strike off immediately?”

On its website Southern said that services today (Thursday 15 December) would be disrupted because of the strikes yesterday and tomorrow.

The company said: “A reduced service will operate across the Southern network with no service on some routes due to the ongoing overtime ban and disruption caused by the strikes on (Wednesday) 14 December and (Friday) 16 December.

“We are expecting services to be disrupted throughout the day. This is due to trains starting the day in the wrong places for their normal working patterns following today’s driver strike action.

“Services in the evening will be disrupted as drivers prepare to take further strike action on Friday 16 December.”

  1. Hjarrs Reply

    Lucas is quite right, the ideolog Grayling has demonstrated incompetence in every government role he has held. It just goes to show how threadbare the Conservatives are.

    Grayling refused to transfer some Southern services to the London Major because the role is currently held by a Labour politician! He wants to privatise railway maintenance back to a failed model (that had to be nationalised!!). He is also sponsoring the Southern strike in a political attempt to break trade unions.

    GTR are well known for running a profitable shoestring operation of poorly staffed trains, cancellations and barely enough drivers to cover a service. One knock and it all falls down. Their normal service is so poor that it is impossible to tell whether it is a strike day or not.

    The people suffering are us train users, as powerless piggies in the middle, and GTR front line employees who have to deal with the stressed public, or face losing significant amounts of pay to protect their modest conditions.

    Nothing will change until people stop voting Conservative.

  2. Rolivan Reply

    So if You suggest people stop voting Conservative who do you suggest they vote for.I would really like to vote Green but they have proved to bé anything but.Nice to see you back HJarrs have you been on Hols?

    • Hjarrs Reply

      The Conservatives have shown themselves over decades to be hopelessly short termist, appalling at running services and obsessed with asset stripping the tax payer. There is plenty of alternative choices to vote for. However, the Conservatives are backed up by a very powerful and persuasive media. Personally, I shall continue voting Green, I don’t expect perfection but they are the stand out party for fighting cuts, protecting the environment, changing an economic system and reforming our democracy.

      No holiday, but my account in the Argus has been banned. But that is politics for you.

  3. Richard Reply

    Ban strike action by trade unions… if people don’t like their jobs, they can change them…. we need a modern service on our railways and all the unions are doing is blocking progress.

    • Hjarrs Reply

      Trade unions do not take strike action, it is ordinary working people that take strike action when they can see no way forward. I am yet to meet someone who wanted to go on strike and lose money.

      Working people come together in trade unions do so to maintain and improve their conditions. This has overall resulted in improved pensions, better working conditions, improved health and safety and higher wages.

      We already have your vision in most companies and we have witnessed the ending of final salary schemes (at the same time, more money has been spent by companies on share buy backs than the level of pension deficits) the fall of relative wages and an attack upon our working conditions.

      Far from blocking progress, trade unions frequently force companies to take a long term view and encourage investment.

  4. richard Reply

    Interesting… If you leave a reply supporting GTR’s position, the moderator removes it, no foul language, nothing offensive…

    how long till this get;s taken down

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