The South Western Railway performance review was published on
May I welcome my hon. Friend’s return to the Front Bench? Although my constituents will welcome the review, they are furious about the terrible disruption across South Western Railway on “mayhem Monday” this week, with seemingly no contingency plans and diabolical communication. Will my hon. Friend ensure that South Western Railway and Network Rail are held to account and made to learn lessons from this week’s mess, especially given the planned Network Rail engineering works this Sunday?
That incident was utterly unacceptable—there is no question about that—and I am not surprised that my hon. Friend’s constituents are furious about it. The Secretary of State spoke to Andrew Haines, chief executive of Network Rail, at 7 o’clock on Monday morning, and he made clear his dissatisfaction with the incident and demanded action. Network Rail has started an independent investigation to look at how the work was planned and delivered, and how the resulting disruption was managed. It has already made management changes, and new leadership on the Wessex route will start next week. South Western Railway also has lessons to learn, and it must review its communications with its customers. That part is critical and it failed on Monday. It must do far better.
Welcome back, but—I have had some pretty miserable experiences on that train line, but they are as nothing compared with how ghastly it must be to be rail Minister. Does my hon. Friend think that that might have contributed to his predecessor’s resignation?