Thameslink The Musical Act 4, Scene 3: The Grayling Letter

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The Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, has written a letter to fellow MPs outlining where responsibility lies for the current issues with the GTR franchise. You can read the full letter here. By way of response, we present an extract from Thameslink: The Musical.

## ACT 4, SCENE 3: THE GRAYLING LETTER ##

[CENTRE STAGE. SPOTS ON DFT SUITS X4, LOOKING UP AT LARGE NUMBER OF NEON SIGNS HANGING ROUND STAGE. ALL SIGNS SAY ‘CANCELLED’ OR ‘DELAYED’]

DfT Suit #1:

What do we do? Should we tell him?

DfT Suit #2:

I don’t think…

[DISCO BEAT BEGINS]

DfT Suit #2:

Too late! He’s coming!

[STAGE LEFT. SINGLE SPOT ON CHRIS GRAYLING IN WHITE DISCO SUIT]

Grayling:

Hello boys! I think we need to talk…

[SONG: (“Blame it on the Boogie” [Thameslink version])]

Grayling:

Now I hear the trains are failing,
And that’s certainly a bad thing,
But it’s the Grayling they are blaming,
and that’s not right!

I know the way that this goes:
Find me goats to scape quick, pronto.
Else I’ll have to kiss my cabinet post goodbye!

DfT Suits:

We could blame it on the sunshine?
We could blame it on the infra guys?
On Milton Keynes train times?

Grayling:

Just don’t blame the DfT!

DfT Suits:

Let’s blame it on the sunshine!
Or on Peter Hendy’s new guy?
And Milton Keynes’ train times!

All:

But not the DfT!

Grayling:

Now local MPs bug me.
From Huntingdon to Arlesey.
By phone, text, email and in every tweet.
Let’s change the narrative completely!
Take the pressure right back off me,
Get a letter wrote down now and QED…

All [ex. 1x DfT Suit]:

They’ll blame it on the sunshine!
A little on GTR’s side!
On Milton Keynes’ train times!
But not the DfT!

Let’s blame it on the…

[RECORD SCRATCH. MUSIC STOPS. GRAYLING LOOKS AT SILENT DFT SUIT]

Grayling:

Wait! Wait! Alan is it? I can’t help but notice you’re not singing anymore? Are you okay?

Alan:

Sorry sir. I’m fine… it’s just… no. I shouldn’t say.

Grayling:

Oh Alan. We’re a family here at Marsham Street. You can tell us.

[ALL NOD]

Alan:

Okay. Well, it’s just… well we are a little bit to blame aren’t we? I mean, we specified the GTR franchise. We decided that it should be as large and complex as it is. And then of course there’s the fact that we didn’t provide any of the bidders with the correct data about the number of drivers that would be required to run it effectively. Plus there’s the rolling stock delivery issues. Those aren’t really GTR’s fault. Maybe we should have applied more pressure there?

[ALAN CONTINUES WITH GROWING CONFIDENCE]

And of course, sir, Network Rail are an organisation whose priorities and budgets we largely dictate. Can we be sure that we did that correctly here? Are we not somewhat complicit for the failure to prioritise the recruitment and retention of highly skilled timetable staff at Network Rail? Especially once it became clear last year the scale of the timetable changes involved? Is it really fair to try and pin most of this on a small group of overworked men and women at Milton Keynes, many of who are only earning about 22k a year?

And when you really think about it, aren’t we – well… you… – responsible for everything that happens on the railways? Rather than allocating blame, should we perhaps instead focus on rebuilding the institutional knowledge within the DfT that would allow us to better predict issues and support both the TOCs and Network Rail?

[EXTENDED SILENCE. RECORD SCRATCH. MUSIC RESUMES]

Grayling:

Let’s blame it on the sunshine!

DfT Suits (excluding Alan):

A little on GTR’s side!

Grayling:

It’s Milton Keynes’ train times!

All (ex. Alan):

But not the DfT!

Grayling:

Get your pens out boys! We’ve got a letter to write!

All (ex. Alan):

Let’s blame it on the sunshine!
A little on GTR’s side!
It’s Milton Keynes’ train times!
But not the DfT!

Alan:

I just can’t
I just can’t
I just…

Grayling:

Stick with me boys! And you’ll never be held responsible again!

[SCENE ENDS]

For a more detailed (and less musical) look at the current issues with GTR services, you can find our full coverage of the causes of the current GTR issues here. Our look at the political issues associated with Thameslink is here.

Update: It has been pointed out (rightly) that many readers will not have seen the original ‘extract’s’ from the musical that we posted to Twitter and Facebook. I have now included these below, for the sake of completeness.

Written by John Bull