Local paper mocks government over Southern Rail failures

Joe Vesey-Byrne
Sunday 07 August 2016 14:40
news

A local newspaper has skewered transport secretary Chris Grayling (pictured below) over his failure to condemn the performance of Southern Rail.

In just six short paragraphs The Argus, a newspaper circulating in the Brighton & Hove area, highlighted the lack of response from the government over the controversy.

As of Monday, commuters who travel along Southern Rail routes are facing a five day strike. This has come on top of huge rises in the number of delays, staff walkouts, and frequent cancellations. Many commentators have called on the government to intervene, and take over operation of the franchise.

On page 3 of Saturday's edition of The Argus, the paper published a short message in which it apologised to its readers. It left the rest of the page blank.

The MP for Ilford North Wes Streeting tweeted an image of the article, along with his brief comment 'Ouch'.

The full piece reads:

Apology to our readers.

It had been our intention to use this page to carry the Government's response to next week's all-out train strike.

We had cleared the page for the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to give the tens of thousands of rail users details of the actions he will take to relieve their daily misery.

We hoped to be able to bring you news that the Government was taking our plight seriously, that it understood the serious concerns for the economy of Sussex and that it was working tirelessly behind the scenes to bring about an end to the appalling train service we are currently experiencing.

We were preparing space for explanations about how long he will give Southern Rail to sort out the mess. In truth we were hoping for anything from the Government to show it actually cared about our plight.

The article ends with a sly allusion to the train announcements heard by delayed commuters.

We regret to announce that due to circumstances beyond our control we are unable to offer you this service.

Those of you who use the trains regularly will be familiar with the feeling.

Ouch indeed.

The Argus provided Indy100 with a copy of the story.

Rail minister Paul Maynard MP told indy100 on Sunday:

This strike action from the RMT will do nothing other than cause yet more disruption and daily misery for passengers. It is deeply disappointing that the union bosses continue to overlook the impact they are having on the travelling public, and I strongly condemn this proposed action. There have been many issues with Southern Rail in recent months – but a strike like this helps no one.

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