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Confidence in the Secretary of State for Transport

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:49 pm on 19th June 2018.

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Photo of Andy McDonald Andy McDonald Shadow Secretary of State for Transport 1:49 pm, 19th June 2018

I beg to move,

That this House
has no confidence in the Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Member for Epsom and Ewell;
notes the failed implementation of the May rail timetables which has left thousands of commuters without services and has drastically affected their everyday lives;
believes Northern and Govia Thameslink Railway should have their franchises terminated;
and regrets that the Secretary of State for Transport has failed to strategically manage and oversee the UK railway and take responsibility for his role in the crisis on England’s railways, whilst officials at other organisations have resigned and forgone bonuses.

Before I come to the topic of today’s debate, I would like to express my condolences to the families and friends of those who so sadly died as a result of being struck by a train at Loughborough Junction in south London yesterday. I also pay tribute to all the railway staff who attended in response, in particular the British Transport police. Despite the challenges we face, we can never forget the outstanding public service that tens of thousands of men and women provide every day. We owe it to them to do our very best for the industry.

I regret having to table the motion, but given the totally unacceptable state of the railway I felt that I had a duty to passengers. The latest chaos follows meltdown on the east coast, resulting in a £2 billion bail-out and huge cuts to promised electrification in Wales, the north of England and the midlands. This is not shaping up to be a distinguished legacy. In his resignation letter to staff, Charles Horton, the outgoing chief executive of Govia Thameslink Railway, said:

“In my view, this was an industry-wide failure of the timetabling process. But with leadership comes responsibility and so I feel it is only right that I step down”.

Why is it that the chief executive of a train company who is responsible only for the travel disruption on one part of the railway is able to recognise the responsibility that comes with his leadership role and resign, yet the person who is truly responsible, the Transport Secretary, remains in post?