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Damning report from MPs criticises rail fare rises after timetable chaos

Meltdown: Train travellers across the country faced timetable chaos in May PICTURES: PA/REX

TRAIN bosses are today accused by MPs of adding ‘insult to injury’ with a fares increase for passengers who have faced a year of timetable chaos.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling also faces fresh calls to quit after he and industry bosses were blamed for a ‘collective, system-wide failure’, alongside price rises that added more than £100 to many annual season tickets.

In a damning report the Commons select transport committee called for rail operators to offer refunds after inflicting ‘intensely inconvenient, costly and potentially dangerous disruption’.

It dismissed Mr Grayling’s claims he should not be held responsible for the upheaval in May — though MPs agreed he was not fully informed by operators about the 43,200 timetable changes that affected almost half of all services.

In June, Mr Grayling (pictured below) said he should not be blamed, telling BBC Radio 4: ‘I don’t run the railways.’

But the report said he should have been more proactive. The ‘chaotic roll-out’ of alterations should also be a catalyst for ‘genuine change’, it added.

The study criticised the ‘astonishing complexity’ of the network and the ‘not fit for purpose’ management processes across the industry, including rail operators, Network Rail and the Department for Transport.

Ex-Network Rail boss Mark Carne, in charge during May, collected a CBE at Buckingham Palace last Thursday — hours before operators announced fares would increase by 3.1 per cent in the new year.

Transport committee chair Lilian Greenwood said the rise ‘adds insult to passengers’ injury’. She added: ‘It is extraordinary, and totally unacceptable, that no one took charge of the situation and acted to avert the May timetabling crisis.’

RMT union leader Mick Cash accused Mr Grayling of being ‘asleep at the wheel’, while Aslef head Mick Whelan called on him to ‘do the decent thing and resign’.

The Department for Transport said the disruption showed ‘significant change is required in the rail industry’ and compensation had begun for the worst-affected passengers. Robert Nisbet, of industry body the Rail Delivery Group, said it was ‘truly sorry’ and was ‘learning the lessons’.