Luton South MP rails against timetable chaos

MP Gavin Shuker talks to commuters
MP Gavin Shuker talks to commuters

The MP for Luton South has called for Govia Thameslink Railway to lose its rail franchise after timetable changes brought chaos to rail commuters over the past two weeks.

Gavin Shuker MP said that transport secretary Chris Grayling was in deep trouble over the fiasco – which has seen rail journeys cancelled and undergoing severe delays across the country.

Speaking in Parliament, Mr Shuker said: “I’ve yet to see such a complacent performance from a secretary of state at the dispatch box.

“He needs to understand that he is in deep trouble over this. This will go on for months and months. The underlying issues behind these timetable changes and how they have gone wrong actually land squarely to his department.

“Does he accept that his unwillingness to take any responsibility for this actually undermines efforts for him to put it right?”

In addition, Mr Shuker has called for Govia Thameslink Railway to lose its rail franchise ahead of the next timetable changes due in December.

Thousands of stranded commuters have taken to social media to complain about the delays and cancellations since the new timetable was introduced on May 20.

One man posted on Twitter: “Another week, another Thameslink disaster with scheduling. Luton airport packed with commuters. Only issue, no trains. Constant frustration with Thameslink.”

Another added: “Most trains from Luton to City Thameslink are cancelled today. I got on one after being advised by your staff it was going, then be told it’s terminating!

“I’m now standing, still at Luton, praying one turns up. Going to be so late AGAIN for work!”

Govia Thameslink Railway has defended itself after mounting criticisms from politicans and the public.

Charles Horton, CEO of GTR, said: “We always said that delivering the biggest timetable change in generations would be challenging – but we are sorry that we have not been able to deliver the service that passengers expect.

“Delayed approval of the timetable led to an unexpected need to substantially adjust our plans and resources in an unexpectedly short timeframe. We fully understand that passengers want more certainty and are working very hard to bring greater consistency to the timetable as soon as possible.

“We will also be working with industry colleagues to establish a timetable that will progressively deliver improvement.”