Tom slams “unacceptable chaos for Teesside rail travellers” in Commons debate over Kings Cross holiday closure

Local Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, has attacked Government Transport Ministers over what he called “chaotic delays” for his constituent caught in the holiday chaos caused by the closure of all services from Teesside and the North East into Kings Cross Station.

Tom said:
“I was contacted over the holiday period by Guisborough resident Mr Guy Coulthard, a 70 year old man who, along with his wife, was caught up in the scrum at Finsbury Part station, a small suburban halt, which was pressed into service at the last moment to take on the Kings Cross traffic – an ordeal which they are now recovering from.

“His tale – a tale shared by thousands of commuters – was a grim one, and by good fortune we had an urgent debate on this issue in the House of Commons on the first day back. Mr Coulthard’s account raised big questions in my mind.

“I do have to say that the cause of the problem did not lie with East Coast Trains but with Network Rail who manage the tracks and signalling.

“That being said, the response from East Coast Trains does, on the face of it, look to be poor.   Funnelling everything into a small suburban station at Finsbury Park was clearly inadequate and I cannot understand why the operator did not also look to diverting trans onto the electrified lines on what is called the “Hertford Loop” to Palmers Green station or also on to the North London Line at, possibly, Camden Road, so there could be a choice of station stops and pick-ups which could have been advertised in advance.

“The crucial phrase here is “in advance”. I think we need to know when Network Rail first knew there would be a repairs overrun and when they first told East Coast Trains and the other rail operators using Kings Cross.

“A third question is why the DFT could not order East Coast Trains tickets to be become valid on services from the neighbouring St Pancras Station on services that run to and from there to Sheffield and Leeds and from where connecting Cross Country and Trans-Pennine trains could be got to take people to and from Teesside, Darlington and Newcastle.

“I put these questions to the Transport Secretary directly on the floor of the house, but all I got was a bemused look and a view that these matters need to be examined.  I have to say that his off hand reply seemed to come from someone caught in the headlights of an approaching train, and was – in railway terms – a signal failure on the part of the minister supposed to be responsible for the nation’s railway network.  In simple tems, we need to get a grip on these problems, as it obvious the Coalition Government is incapable of doing this.

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