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Rail chaos: give worst-hit commuters a discount next year, say MPs

Joanna Faith
Written By:
Joanna Faith

Commuters worst affected by the chaos on the railways in May should receive a discount on tickets next year, MPs have said.

Northern, TransPennine Express, Thameslink and Great Northern season ticket holders should receive a discount, equivalent to the 3.1% increase announced last week, on renewed season tickets in 2019, according to the Transport Committee.

Chair of the Committee, Lilian Greenwood MP, said:“It is extraordinary, and totally unacceptable, that no-one took charge of the situation and acted to avert the May timetabling crisis.

“Instead of experiencing the benefits of much-needed investment in our railways, around one in five passengers experienced intensely inconvenient and costly disruption to their daily lives.

“There was extraordinary complacency about protecting the interests of passengers, who were very badly let down.”

The cross-party committee said the implementation of the timetable changes in May, which affected 46% of passenger services, was “chaotic” and “resulted in a prolonged period of intensely inconvenient, costly and potentially dangerous disruption for passengers across the north of England and in London and the south”.

The MPs said the crisis was partly due to the “astonishing complexity” of a fragmented railway, but that there was also a collective, system-wide failure across Network Rail, the privately-owned train operating companies, the Department for Transport and the Office of Road and Rail.

The Committee’s report said Transport Secretary Chris Grayling should have been more proactive and that it was not reasonable for him to absolve himself completely of all responsibility.

A spokesperson from the Department for Transport said: “We have already worked with the industry to deliver special compensation schemes on Northern, TransPennine Express and GTR, which provides the equivalent of up to 8% of the cost of an annual season ticket for those most severely impacted.”