05 June 2018
The General Secretary of RMT, Mick Cash, has called on Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to meet with the rail staff taking the brunt of customer anger over the failings of recent weeks.
With the railways still in disarray following the bungled timetable changes introduced on 20 May, Grayling finally spoke on the issue yesterday when he gave a statement to parliament.
Much of his blame fell on Network Rail, which he said had not completed infrastructure improvements near Manchester in time for the launch of the new timetable. He added that the industry timetable developed by Network Rail in London was not finalised until the last minute.
He also promised to penalise train operators Govia Thameslink and Northern if they were found to have been at fault, and announced the launch of an independent inquiry.
Mick Cash responded to the speech, saying: “This is just the usual stream of hot air, broken promises and buck passing that we have come to expect from Chris Grayling and no one believes a single word of it.”
Reminding Grayling that rail staff are “bearing the brunt of the backlash against the timetable changes his department signed off”, he urged him to meet with them.
“RMT members across the north and the south are being hung out to dry as human shields for a failed Tory privatisation dogma. That is a disgrace and Chris Grayling should have the guts to get out of his bunker and come and talk to them,” he said.
Warning that members were experiencing unsafe working conditions as a result of the chaos, he also called on industry safety regulator the Office of Rail and Road to look after the welfare of workers.
“RMT is demanding protection and support for our members caught in the crossfire of this timetable chaos before we have a major incident on our hands,” he said.
ASLEF General Secretary Mick Whelan also warned its members were facing “much abuse … created by the failures of the DfT, Network Rail, and the train operating companies”.
He asked passengers to “place the blame fairly and squarely where it belongs, on the shoulders of those in charge, and not on those of us who are working at the sharp end of the railway, and who are also trapped on trains, not knowing when we will get to our destinations or when we will get home”.