Govia is in last chance saloon, says MP Sir Oliver Heald at public meeting

PUBLISHED: 09:32 21 July 2018 | UPDATED: 09:32 21 July 2018

Sir Oliver Heald MP spoke at the rail user group meeting on Thursday.

Sir Oliver Heald MP spoke at the rail user group meeting on Thursday.

Archant

The North East Herts MP said that Govia Thameslink is in the last chance saloon, while speaking at the rail users group public meeting on Thursday.

Sir Oliver Heald sat on a panel at Letchworth’s Brotherhood Hall with Edward Carder, chair of Royston & Villages Rail Users Group, Leanne Stott and Stephen Rose of the Letchworth RUG, Scott Brightwell – Govia’s operations planning director and members of his team – and Sarah Bartram of Ashwell & Morden RUG.

The meeting, which was attended by around 200 people, was chaired by Letchworth district councillor Helen Oliver.

Sir Oliver Heald said: “In my 26 years as the MP here, I’ve never known a period like this cause such suffering. It’s completely unacceptable – I’ve been on Letchworth station talking to people in tears.

“One of the things I’ve tried to do is get to the point where GTR are in last chance saloon. We do have assurances from the Prime Minister that nothing’s off the table.

“And if Govia can’t get the services stable this week, I am going to call for them to lose the franchise.

“It is important that there shouldn’t be a question of no accountability, there should be these inquiries and GTR should realise they are in a last chance saloon.”

He said if the operator did lose the franchise, a temporary period of nationalisation would be put in place.

An audience member said to the MP that he had the chance to vote to get rid of transport secretary Chris Grayling, and make GTR lose the franchise, and chose not to.

He said: “I did have a decision to make. There was Labour motion for a vote of no confidence, so I had to think was that best for my constituents. My view was it would be a strong guesture to have done that, but I don’t think it would have helped you and that’s why I didn’t vote for it.

“It would have been a big guesture to vote against him, but an empty one.

“What we wanted was to get the show back on the track and that’s what I have been aiming for. That’s why I got assurances from the Prime Minister, because I don’t want this situation to continue and I believe, on balance, to leave the team in place with pressure to get the job done is the better judgement.”

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