In a disappointing move, the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling MP rejected the Mayor’s proposal to transfer management of suburban rail services to TfL. Assembly Members agreed a unanimous motion calling on him to reconsider his decision and said it is time for the Prime Minister to intervene, with passengers on some London and Southeastern suburban routes experiencing among the worst service in the country.
As the Assembly Member for Lambeth and Southwark I see and hear how severely this affects my constituents, especially given the comparable lack of Underground services south of the river. Along with Lambeth Labour colleagues, Leader of the Council- Lib Peck, and our MPs I have been calling out Southeastern and calling for an end to their franchise for months. This latest announcement shows little regard for Lambeth residents and I know that this party political point-scoring won’t go down well with rail-users across London and the South East.
I wrote to the Secretary of State in October explaining the support for rail devolution in London as part of a wider devolution agenda, stating it was a win-win. Looking at the transformation of the North London Line to the London Overground it is almost unrecognisable. New trains, revamped and fully staffed stations & customer service scores that have gone from the worst in London to the best. The Overground has been a welcome addition to parts of Lambeth and I’m pleased to see Lambeth Labour keeping the pressure on to deliver better Transport for residents.
As the Member of Parliament for Epsom & Ewell, the Secretary of State for Transport will be well aware of the issues facing commuters with the current South West Trains, not to mention the atrocious service on Southern Rail. I believe that both of these services can be markedly improved by handing over responsibility for them from the DfT to TfL and fail to understand why a takeover from TfL, which has a proven track-record of delivering to high standard for Londoners, has been rejected.
There is cross-party support for this move, and in my capacity as Labour’s Transport lead on the Assembly, I will continue to argue for a transfer of this franchise to TfL in what is a bread and butter issue for Londoners trying to go about their lives in our City.
London Assembly Member for Lambeth & Southwark