The Conservatives have been accused of hypocrisy for allowing another Boxing Day rail shutdown after attacking the Christmas closures when in opposition.
The shutdown of rail services across most of the country, forcing holidaymakers on to congested roads, comes ahead of another year of rail fare rises due to come into force on 2 January, when the price of regulated tickets will go up by 1%.
Most operators will be running no services on Boxing Day, with the rest running a reduced service.
Patrick McLoughlin, the transport secretary, recently threatened “dire consequences” if Network Rail allows the same to happen again. But Labour said ministers have no effective sanctions – such as the ability to fine the company – other than the power to sack its new chairman Sir Peter Hendy, who only took the role earlier this year.
A determination over whether Network Rail’s licence has been breached, and a decision on whether to impose fines, is taken by the independent Office of Rail and Road.
Lilian Greenwood, the shadow transport secretary, criticised McLoughlin for making empty threats about consequences when he had known for months that there was a possibility that the works would overrun.
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