Transport secretary Chris Grayling says he is 'not a specialist in rail matters'

Mimi Launder
Tuesday 24 July 2018 15:30
news

No one would admit at a job interview that they're not all that familiar with the role.

On second thought, based on his recent performance during a grilling by the transport select committee, Chris Grayling might .

When asked by committee chair Lilian Greenwood whether he was accountable for the timetabling "fiasco", the transport secretary admitted that he was not "a specialist in rail matters".

Actually, I don't.

We have an industry readiness board, that on May the 2nd gave a RAG [Red, Amber, Green) rating of the timetable change of 'green, green, green and amber green'.

So it would have been irresponsible, in my view, for a secretary of state who is not a specialist in rail matters to intervene and say 'this must not go ahead'. 

The man responsible for transport matters across the UK, everyone.

Grayling was questioned on his handling of the now-cancelled InterCity East Coast rail franchise at the session, which was delayed by six minutes and, no, we're not joking.

He said that the "secretary of state is not responsible for rail timetabling and should not be".

Greenwood said she accepted that Grayling is not the industry expert on how to develop rail timetables", but retorted:

Surely you would take responsibility for the overall system.

I appreciate you're not driving the trains.

Grayling insisted otherwise.

The secretary of state does not take responsivity for shaping a train timetable.

He also said the operators had overestimated profitability of the franchise, which will be run by the government until a new public-private partnership can be appointed in 2020, and accepted that the privatisation model needs to "evolve".

People are not surprised that Grayling's railway knowledge is as bumpy as is time as transport secretary.

But they were surprised that he appeared to assert he knew anything at all.

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