North East Beds Labour chairman Julian Vaughan has his say on the railways

North East Bedfordshire Labour chairman Julian Vaughan. Picture: North East Beds Labour

North East Bedfordshire Labour chairman Julian Vaughan. Picture: North East Beds Labour - Credit: Archant

There has been chaos on the railways since a new timetable was introduced on May 20. In a column for the Comet, North East Bedfordshire Labour chairman Julian Vaughan has his say.

It is disgraceful that, while government ministers and rail bosses play the blame game, passengers and rail staff in Bedfordshire continue to suffer the effects of their incompetence.

It was widely known among rail staff that the new timetable introduced on the Great Northern Route was going to be a disaster, however their concerns were ignored. Govia Thameslink Railway, which runs trains through Sandy, Biggleswade and Arlesey, heralded the new timetable as the dawn of a new age of rail travel – yet all it has delivered is misery for thousands of passengers and rail staff.

I have worked in the rail industry for over 15 years, and I formed the Biggleswade Commuter Group in direct response to the chaos.

When Chris Grayling, the Minister of State for Transport, says that he does not actually run the railways, seems to accept everything he is told by rail bosses at face value, and blames everyone but himself, urgent change is needed.

While Govia Thameslink Railway have belatedly de-classified first-class areas on their trains, it is typical of their mis-management that even their announcement on this was delayed.

Plus, they have only de-classified peak time trains, yet again putting profit over the needs of their passengers.

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A recent online survey showed that 91 per cent of Biggleswade commuters were in favour of Govia Thameslink Railway being stripped of the franchise.

Failure cannot be rewarded, and it is clear that Govia Thameslink Railway must be stripped of the franchise and Chris Grayling moved on.

As for the future, it is time the railways were brought back into public ownership.

It is vital, however, that those who are currently most affected by the ongoing rail chaos –passengers and rail staff – have a strong voice in how this publicly owned railway is run.

Only a Labour government will deliver this change.

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