TIM LOUGHTON: A good start towards easing train woes
Parliament returned this week and inevitably there were a series of catch-up statements with what has happened over the summer recess, primarily the progress made with Brexit and what '˜Brexit means Brexit' actually means.
As the immediate histrionics about the referendum vote subside and people have come to accept that we will be leaving the EU, though not Europe, there is a genuine willingness in Parliament to work together to get the best possible deal for Britain.
That will not be easy and there is a bumpy and uncertain road ahead but that road will not include a second referendum or a backdoor deal that does involve us ultimately leaving the EU, as the Prime Minister clearly put it.
On our first day back Sussex MPs had a briefing meeting with new Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Rail Minister Paul Maynard about the continuing woeful position on the trains.
I am glad to report a far more encouraging sense of urgency from the new incumbents helped by the fact that, as a Surrey MP, Chris and his constituents have experienced the GTR shambles at first hand.
The £20million additional funding announced last week to address some of the infrastructure problems which are causing delay and cancellations on those days when RMT union members are not carrying out industrial action is a good start.
It is not new public money but funds from existing Network Rail budgets being put to more urgent use.
The minister has promised further funding, if that is required, to help put things right and expects a return to a full timetable within a matter of weeks at last.
Some senior people from Network Rail have been put on the case to ensure much better joint working with GTR to achieve swifter problem solving.
Now it is up to the unions to adopt a more conciliatory approach to allowing their guards to work on driver-only operated trains in other roles closer to the passengers, without the need for any redundancies, and leaving it up to drivers to operate the doors, as modern trains are built to operate.
There was a meeting of the Adur Ferry Bridge working group last week looking at the damage to the glass panels.
I am glad to report that replacement panels have been sourced and are due to be installed next month whilst a comprehensive CCTV monitoring system is being scoped and security will be stepped up.
Well done to the winning councillors’ team (including me) who took on Worthing Borough Council officers at the keenly-contested annual mayor’s charity cricket match at Goring on Sunday.
I am delighted to report that my ‘not out,’ albeit for zero runs contribution, and a catch, was a distinct improvement on my performance last year, but more importantly almost £1,000 was raised for the mayor’s charities.
• If you would like to get in touch with me, please write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or email me at [email protected]
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