MPs savage “system-wide failures”for last year’s timetable change fiasco

A CROSS-PARTY committee of MPs has severely criticised train operators, Network Rail, the DfT, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and the complex structure of the rail industry in a scathing report on last May’s timetable chaos, which affected around 20% of UK rail users.

“The statistics cannot do justice to the severe effects on people’s lives,” said the cross-party committee of MPs, chaired by Labour MP Lilian Greenwood. 

“Businesses and local economies suffered. Children were late for school. Anxiety about getting to and from work put a considerable strain on people’s mental health. At points it was not clear that significant portions of the railway were operating to any timetable at all.”

Overcrowded platforms at Manchester Piccadilly. PHIL MARSH

In perhaps its most damning passage, the report says: “Far from marking the intended substantial improvement for rail passengers across the north and in London and the south of England, the May timetable change and the weeks that followed will live long in the memories of a large proportion of rail users as a prolonged period of intensely inconvenient, costly and, on occasions, potentially dangerous disruption.”

“We endorse the ORR’s finding that ‘nobody took charge’ (The RM Dec). This is extraordinary and totally unacceptable. Effective communication broke down. The situation was chaotic.”

The chaos led to dangerously overcrowded platforms caused by last-minute cancellations and platform changes subjecting passengers to “uncontrolled risks”.

Disabled passengers were particularly hard hit, witnesses telling MPs “using parts of the railway became simply impossible”.

Read more in the January 2019 issue of The RM – on sale now!

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