Calls for Grayling to resign as Northern clock up more than 2,000 cancelled services

The RMT has labelled Chris Grayling and train company bosses as “disgusting” and is demanding they “come out of hiding” after two weeks of rail chaos since a new timetable was introduced.

The union's general secretary Mick Cash has launched a scathing attack on the transport secretary and called him “incompetent” and “not fit to run a railway”. It follows 12 days of delays and cancellations since a timetable change was implemented by Northern Rail on 20 May. Since 18 May, more than 2,000 Northern services have been cancelled.

Passengers have also been severely disrupted on Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) routes too. The two train operators were responsible for more than 1,000 cancelled and delayed trains on Wednesday (30 May). 

Britain's rail timetable is updated twice a year, but the latest version has many more changes than normal in a bid to improve punctuality and account for extra services and capacity following billions of pounds of investment.

Cash, the RMT general secretary, said: "‎It is absolutely disgusting that those responsible for the carnage on out railways over the past twelve days - Chris Grayling and his private train company bosses - have dived for cover rather than face the passengers they have hung out to dry. Meanwhile my members, working at the sharp end of the cancelled and delayed services, are bearing the brunt of the public anger without a shred of support from Govia, Arriva or the Department of Transport. Grayling should get out, the private companies he is propping up should be sacked and the vital rail services the nation depends on should be returned to public ownership."

Northern and GTR say they continue to urgently work on "comprehensive plans" to improve services. A spokesman for Northern said there will be "amended services" from Monday. But the mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and his Liverpool counterpart Steve Rotheram have called for Northern to lose the franchise if things do not improve.

The fallout from disrupted services across the UK rail network has also led to chair of the transport select committee, Lilian Greenwood, suggesting a full inquiry maybe initiated with MPs set to review the situation.  She described the cancellation of hundreds of trains on the Thameslink and Northern as a "complete shambles".

Greenwood added: "The ongoing timetabling chaos is making the lives of passengers very difficult. The transport committee has discussed the problems and is watching the situation carefully."

Earlier this week, Grayling pointed the finger at the rail industry, claiming it had collectively "failed the passengers it serves". He has said improving Northern's train services is the Department for Transport's "number one performance priority".

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