GWR and Network Performance — [Mr Clive Betts in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 5th February 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Doughty Stephen Doughty Labour/Co-operative, Cardiff South and Penarth 9:30 am, 5th February 2019

Indeed. In fact, I had that experience myself on the last Great Western train that I took. There was hot water in only half of the train—there was no hot water in the toilets or for the catering services. The staff simply shrugged their shoulders and said, “We see this problem all the time.”

I met Hitachi yesterday to discuss some of those concerns. I have to say that it has been very frank and forthcoming about the issues it has experienced with engineering the new trains. Unfortunately, that is what happens if a new fleet is rushed into service without adequate testing and operation time, and without redundancy and additional rolling stock. Great Western’s old HST fleet was sold off to Scotland before enough of the new trains were ready and functioning. That is why many of the problems have happened.

I am disappointed that, despite the many meetings that Members from both sides of the House have had with Great Western management, a blame culture seems to have developed among GWR, Network Rail, the Department for Transport and in some cases the developer of the new rolling stock, Hitachi. As I said, Hitachi has been frank and honest about the problems it has faced and what it is doing to deal with them, but the net result for passengers is poor service. I am sorry to say that the managing director of GWR, Mark Hopwood appears out of touch in relation to some of the problems, and unwilling or unable to get a grip on the litany of failure over the past few years.