Downing Street lobby briefing on Chris Grayling overseas trip and rail fare rises

Posted On: 
2nd January 2018

A spokesperson for Theresa May said Chris Grayling was doing a good job as Transport Secretary despite his absence as rail fares see their biggest rise for years. 

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The spokesperson said: "Talk to the Department for Transport about the purpose of the trip. There is a full statement from the Secretary of State’s department in relation to those rises and I think they are addressing the issue."

They added: "Chris Grayling is working hard and doing a good job as Transport Secretary."

And they said: “We understand people are concerned about increases in the cost of rail tickets and the cost of living and we are taking action in those areas.... The fare rises - which we have known were coming for a while - the Transport Secretary and the Department for Transport have been responding and have issued a full statement in response to those fare increases."

Asked whether the Prime Minister would back a change pegging rail fare rises to CPI inflation rather than RPI, the spokesperson said: "The use of RPI is consistent with the general approach which is adopted across the rail industry and the office of rail and road. RPI is used to account for inflation in the cost of running train services and is used to index charges such as network rail charges for using the track. But the Government carefully monitors how rail fares and average earnings change and keeps the way fare levels are calculated under review."

Asked about claims train firms running the East Coast franchise were getting a bailout after the Government stepped in on the contract, the spokesperson said: "We have been very clear that no one is getting a bailout. Virgin Stagecoach will continue to meet its financial commitments made to the taxpayer on the East Coast rail franchise as it has done since 2015. And the profits continue to flow to the taxpayer as they currently do and any suggestion the taxpayer will be out of pocket is completely wrong."


Asked to confirm reports Theresa May was preparing for a U-turn on counting students in the net migration figures, the spokesperson said: "The position of the Prime Minister on this is clear. The international definition of an immigrant is someone who arrives for a period of more than 12 months."

On Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson backing a change in approach, the spokesperson said: "The international definition of immigration is somebody who arrives for a period of more than 12 months. There is no upper limit on the amount of students who can come and study in this country. Many do so. Our universities provide them with a wonderful service. In terms of planning having a record of how many people are in the country is obviously necessary."