Hypocrisy row as Rail Minister fails to run Boxing Day trains

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Labour accused a Conservative Transport Minister of “hypocrisy” over the shortage of train services on Boxing Day.

Only a handful of lines will be providing services today and many of those which are running are serving airports and the Channel Tunnel, leaving much of the country without trains.

In Yorkshire no services are being provided by the East Coast, Northern and TransPennine Express franchises.

Labour said that Rail Minister Stephen Hammond regularly attacked their Ministers when they were in power before 2010 over the absence of Boxing Day services, but had done little to improve matters since joining the Department for Transport in 2012.

As Shadow Transport Secretary in 2008, Mr Hammond called for an increase in rail services on December 26, arguing that “Boxing Day can hardly be seen as a quiet period” for travel because of the many sporting fixtures taking place.

In 2009, he repeated the attack, saying: “By allowing the railway to close so completely on Boxing Day Labour are condemning sports fans, and families trying to celebrate the Christmas period together, to misery on our clogged-up motorways.”

But Labour said that on the fourth Boxing Day since the coalition Government took office, most train operators were running no service at all, while others were providing only a reduced service.

Among those running were Chiltern Railways between London Marylebone and Bicester North and Southeastern trains between London St Pancras International and Ashford International,

Mr Hammond said: “This is an issue that still concerns me.

“I want to work with the industry to see what further steps can be taken to meet demand for the benefit of passengers.”

The warning comes as thousands of commuters endured a miserable Christmas after scores of services were cancelled in the South due to bad weather.