Former Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling used his last appearance at the Transport Select Committee on July 17 to remind potential successors under new Prime Minister Boris Johnson that transport “affects more people, in more of their lives, than any other area of government and that therefore you are also walking through a bit of a minefield”.
Grayling's departure was confirmed on July 24, when he resigned from the post. Grant Shapps has since replaced him.
Asked about criticism of Northern and calls for it to be stripped of its franchise, he said: “As you know from the situation on the East Coast, I will not resile from taking away a franchise if it is the right thing to do, and if I have the contractual basis for doing so.
“We are watching, and will continue to watch very carefully, Northern’s performance in all respects, and I expect them to deliver on what they have committed to deliver.
“It has not been good enough up to now, although it is a lot better than it was last year, and there is still a way to go, and I hope the new trains will make a significant difference. You should not underestimate the Department’s determination to make sure that franchise works. If Northern cannot deliver, of course we would look at all options.”
Grayling (pictured) also backed suggestions that the Department for Transport should have less involvement in the rail sector, saying: “It is in an odd halfway house where it is not in charge but it is not not in charge either, so things fall between the cracks. It is like Network Rail, which is in charge but not in charge, so things fall between the cracks. There are too many places in the way the industry is structured at the moment for things to fall between the cracks, and that is what happened last year.”
For the FULL story, read RAIL 884, published on July 31, and available digitally on Android, iPad and Kindle from July 27.