The embattled commuters of Southern Rail now have more than missing train services to worry about – it turns out the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, has also disappeared.
Theresa May’s right-hand man, not even a month in to his new government job, has left thousands of Sussex-based rail users hanging as they face chaos from strikes after weeks of erratic service.
The Brighton Argus reserved a page for the government’s response to the five-day strike – the longest period of industrial action by transport unions since the Sixties – which will affect hundreds of thousands of passengers in London and the southeast this week.
But the paper never received Grayling’s statement. So here’s the cutting response it ran on the empty page instead:
I see Chris Grayling is already winning friends and influencing people at Transport (this in the Brighton Argus) pic.twitter.com/grGrD9lWcW
— Andrew Neilson (@neilsonandrew) August 7, 2016
The editor’s note reads:
Apology to our readers
It has been our intention to use this page to carry the Government’s response to next week’s all-out train strike.
We had cleared the page for Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to give the tens of thousands of rail users details of the actions he will take to relieve their daily misery.
We hoped to be able to bring you news that the Government was taking our plight seriously, that it understood the serious concerns for the economy of Sussex and that it was working tirelessly behind the scenes to bring about an end to the appalling train service we are currently experiencing.
We were preparing space for explanations about how long he will give Southern Rail to sort out the mess. In truth we were hoping for anything from the Government to show it actually cared about our plight.
We regret to announce that due to circumstances beyond our control we are unable to offer you this service.
Those of you who use the trains regularly will be familiar with the feeling.