A cross-party report has damned transport minister Chris Grayling’s mismanagement of the rail network, and predicted rail users will face yet more problems this year.
Speaking to talkRADIO’s Mike Graham, Bruce Williamson of campaign group Railfuture’s warned that commuters faced another “year of hell” .
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“We had a really horrible time last year with the timetable changes but I think the rail industry got its fingers so badly burned it can't afford to make the same mistakes again," he said.
“However there’s no doubt that there are problems in the rail industry and there’s incompetence, sadly, which goes right the way to the top.
“I think it would be very hard to find anyone, maybe not even the man himself, who would defend Chris Grayling’s performance as transport minister.”
‘Ideologically wedded to a system that isn’t working’
MPs have warned that scenes like this are likely to be repeated in 2019. Image: PA
Mr Williamson said the “root cause” of the rail problems was the fragmentation caused by the franchise system.
He added: “One of the problems is in the good old days of British Rail we had a level of expertise passed on from generation to generation and consistency and long term planning which we don't have with this fragmented, franchised rail industry.
“The problem is the Conservatives are ideologically wedded to a privatised system that isn’t working, and although even Grayling himself admits that the franchise system needs to change they won’t renationalise for obvious reasons.”
Mr Williamson said Railfuture advocated a “concession system” whereby private companies are paid to run the rail network but the rewards and risks are taken by the government.
He acknowledged that taking the risk away from private rail companies may not be popular with the public, however.