Hammond plays down rail firm fines

Hammond plays down rail firm fines


A delayed Southeastern Train arrives at Ashford International Station, Kent

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has played down the possibility that rail companies could be punished with fines for their performance during the cold spell.

Mr Hammond said the focus needed to be on working together to prevent future chaos for passengers during freezing conditions, not financial punishment.

He told ITV1’s Daybreak: “One of the problems we’ve got in our railway at the moment is a culture where as soon as something goes wrong everybody spends their time and energy asking who’s going to pay? Who’s going to be fined?

“I actually think it would be better if we get Network Rail, the train operators and the Met Office working together to see how we avoid the problem in future rather than who we fine.

“If there’s any sign that people are behaving recklessly because they’re not facing financial risk then obviously we’ll look at that, but it’s Network Rail and the train operator together that make the decision about the timetable and what weather conditions are going to be.”

Referring the plight of commuters spending the night on stranded trains, he said “some serious questions” needed to be asked.

Mr Hammond, who was told to “get a grip” after cancellations left thousands of people high and dry, said he had heard “far too many stories” about people being unable to obtain information about train services.

Mr Hammond has taken the step of writing to all train operators reminding them to ensure all passengers are kept fully informed.

He said: “Some disruption to train services is to be expected. But what is completely unacceptable is for rail passengers to be kept in the dark about what is happening with their services. We will be monitoring their performance on this very carefully while this situation continues.”

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