We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Confidence in the Secretary of State for Transport

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:26 pm on 19th June 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Alan Brown Alan Brown Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Infrastructure and Energy) 2:26 pm, 19th June 2018

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman listened to the point that I made about the subsidy that is paid to the rail franchise companies. It is a circular process, which makes it more complicated and more expensive, because of the number of cost consultants involved, taking money from one direction and paying money in another direction, and then blaming Network Rail. All that money can then circulate, and there are still net subsidies for those companies, although they pay track rental fees.

As I have said before, Richard Branson came out fighting. He blamed Network Rail for the overruns, but we have heard that Network Rail was not really at fault. The Secretary of State should be more robust in attacking VTEC. Letting it walk away owing that money undermines his position.

In previous incarnations, the east coast main line service has proved that public ownership can work. When it was last in public ownership, it paid the track rental fees and made a nominal profit, which went straight to the taxpayer. That model can work, and it should be used again in future. The Secretary of State ought to consider that.

Also on this Transport Secretary’s watch has been the Southern rail shambles. He did not do enough to step in. When I highlighted some of Southern’s failings on another occasion, he intervened and said that he was not the Transport Secretary who had been responsible for the allocation of the franchise. That completely missed the point: he was simply saying, “It’s not my fault, guv.”