The report identifies a serious lack of leadership to provide ‘system integrity’ – something that will come as no surprise to commuters affected by the Brighton mainline rail nightmare who’ve been left to pick up the pieces in their working and family lives.
It’s time for the Government to apologise for getting it so badly wrong and to stop washing its hands of the industrial dispute on our railways. The Transport Secretary’s response is wholly inadequate and doesn’t even reference resolving the industrial dispute. Chris Gibb states that Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is already determining the strategic direction of this difficult dispute, so he really cannot now continue to refuse to get around the table himself.
It’s an outrage that large sections of this report have been redacted – and I’m demanding a full explanation from ministers for their secrecy.
There are still outstanding questions on safety and access for disabled people that need to be addressed and the Secretary of State needs to get involved. We need leadership to bring all parties to the table, without pre-conditions, and not to give up until a resolution is found. After all, Chris Gibb says plainly that “In GTR "do nothing" is not an option, so negotiations must be entered into”.
It is also a serious concern that chunks of the report have been redacted. For example, why can’t we see Appendix 9, which includes all Gibb’s recommendations on the Southern Franchise Agreement?