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Wednesday, 6 June 2018
Train chaos – Heathrow expansion – Grayling must go!
‘THE ONLY reason that the secretary of state (Chris Grayling) is at the dispatch box today is that the Prime Minister is too weak to sack him. I regret that the secretary of state does not enjoy the confidence of this House,’ Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Transport Andy McDonald said yesterday. Amid fierce opposition, plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport have been approved by the Tory cabinet.
Addressing Parliament, Grayling said it was a ‘historic moment’ and the plans would proceed.
McDonald continued: ‘We have had 11 years of consultation and nine years since expansion was given the green light. The secretary of state came to the House of Commons on Monday to explain the calamitous implementation of the new rail timetables and the secretary of state now stands here today at the dispatch box and expects this House to accept what he says about the most significant infrastructure project.’
Campaigners insist that a new runway will breach the UK’s legal limits on air pollution and increase noise pollution with an extra 700 planes a day. It will result in huge disruption to residents of nearby villages, such as Longford, Harmondsworth and Sipson, with hundreds of homes to be knocked down and families uprooted and told to move out.
Meanwhile, the ‘total chaos’ on Northern and Govia Thameslink Railway as a result of the new timetable has gone from bad to worse. Network Rail’s Peter Hendy said his company was ‘sorry’ for the ongoing troubles. When asked if he thought he should lose his job, he said: ‘Maybe I should, maybe somebody should, but actually the important thing for the moment is to keep on trying to fix it.’
RMT has challenged Grayling to meet staff at the sharp end of the rail chaos. RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: ‘The total chaos unleashed by Chris Grayling on our railways has left staff at the sharp end abandoned to their fate by his private train operators. ‘I am challenging the transport secretary to come and meet some of the men and women bearing the brunt of the backlash against the timetable changes his department signed off. ‘RMT is demanding protection and support for our members caught in the crossfire of this timetable chaos before we have a major incident on our hands.’
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