Sarah Jones, the new MP for Croydon Central, has wasted no time in trying to hold the Government to account over its mismanagement of the Southern Rail crisis, as yesterday she tabled five written questions on the subject to Chris Grayling, the somnambulist Tory transport minster.
The best that Tory Chris Philp, an MP since 2015, could offer was some puerile virtue-signalling by tweeting that he was “back on the case of Southern Rail” – suggesting that he had not been “on the case” for his constituent commuters for the past six months.
Because that’s how long it has been since rail expert Chris Gibb submitted his report to the Department for Transport. And that’s how long Grayling and his Whitehall mandarins who effectively control the Southern network have sat on the report and done nothing.
It’s almost as if the Tories were expecting an election and didn’t want any nasty news about how they were shovelling hundreds of millions of tax-payers’ money towards private interests for a rail service that is utterly dysfunctional, but all the while getting the operators, Govia Thameslink, to conduct their political dirty work for them by undermining the rail unions, and potentially customer safety, with the imposition of one-man-operated trains.
Grayling announced this morning, the day after the Queen’s Speech and therefore with Parliamentary business resumed, that the 163-page Gibb Report – commissioned from the independent expert after almost two years of commuter misery into Victoria and London Bridge stations – would finally be released to the public today.
Doubtless, Philp will claim that it was his tweet wot dun it. Not for nothing was Philp voted as “Most Useless MP in a Rail Crisis” by the commuter action group ABC earlier this year.
Meanwhile, Westminster new girl Jones has been getting on with the job of representing her constituents’ interests with five questions submitted through more formal, parliamentary channels.
As well as including a call for the publication of the Gibb report, Jones has also demanded to know the reasons for DafT’s six-month delay in its publication.
Jones has not yet been able to appoint any parliamentary staff (her predecessor, gaffe-prone Gavin Barwell, was dependent on up to six tax-payer-funded flunkies) and is having to use a desk in the office of Lambeth South MP, Steve Reed OBE, while she waits to be allocated the resources an MP might expect.
Despite this, the Labour MP has also asked questions regarding passenger safety issues and overcrowding at Victoria Station, where recommendations have been ignored that commercial outlets for a bookmakers’ shop, burger bar and branch of WH Smith ought to be removed to provide more space for ticket gates to reduce queuing.
- For more information on the Association of British Commuters, and to donate to their legal fund, click here
- Southern Fail: The train driver’s story
- Southern Fail: The Tories’ role in Croydon’s commuter chaos
- Southern Fail: Civil servant wants ‘to break’ rail unions
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