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Grayling to decide GTR’s fate

Transport secretary Chris Grayling

Transport secretary Chris Grayling said he could make a decision on whether to strip Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) of its franchise ‘within weeks’ following this summer’s timetable change chaos.

GTR customers faced some of the worst disruption following the introduction of a new timetable in May, leading the government to open an inquiry into what went wrong.

Following the questioning of bosses from GTR and Northern, which also saw serious disruption to services, the inquiry’s initial report said there were failures at every step of the introduction of the new timetable from both GTR and Northern, as well as the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

In June, GTR’s CEO Charles Horton announced he was stepping down, saying it was “time to hand leadership” over to someone new.

Answering MP’s questions during a meeting of the Transport Select Committee yesterday, Grayling hinted that punishment for the failure could involve “taking the franchise away”, although he said any action would need to be ‘legally sound’ and in the best interests of passengers.

 After initially saying at the height of the chaos that he wasn’t in charge of running the railways, Grayling said again that “it is not the government’s job to run train timetables” but that the performance issues seen over the summer were “utterly unacceptable”.

He added: “We will make sure there is a consequence to the under-performance of GTR this summer within a small number of weeks.”

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