This week has been another frustrating one for thousands of Lambeth residents using Southern Rail. On a network beset by routine delays and poor service, a three day strike is resulting in an even longer commute for those who rely on these vital train services.
Along with my Labour colleagues in Lambeth, I feel it’s utterly unacceptable that Southern Rail have been allowed to continue running a service that has shown little signs of improvement. Excuses and promises to change are not what passengers want. They just need a service that is efficient and runs on time, which is what they are paying for.
While this week may feel like another low point for the service, there are signs that pressure from residents and Lambeth Labour is beginning to push the government into taking action that is badly needed.
It was a welcome step forward that TfL have announced recently that they will take control of suburban rail services and integrate them into the London Overground network when the current franchises expires. This is something we have been campaigning for as one of the key aims of our ‘Back on Track’ Streatham Transport campaign. We also know that this is something that local residents have wanted to happen for some time.
These services coming under TfL’s control is a positive move that means we can look forward to more frequent, more reliable and less crowded services. However, we firmly believe that Streatham residents should not have to put up with the current unacceptable level of service until 2021. As commuters stand on crowded platforms and cramp into buses this week, I am sure they won’t be consoled by the fact that in five years services may begin to improve.
As a result we need to continue to keep the pressure on ministers and TfL. Our central message is that we cannot afford to wait: the government needs to cancel the Southern Rail franchise and hand control of these services to Transport for London as soon as possible. At our next council meeting, we will be debating a motion that will make this Lambeth’s official policy – and I hope both the Greens and Tories will back our call. This is part of our concerted effort to get the best deal for our residents: and it’s time the government started listening to their voice.
Cllr Danny Adilypour, Labour Councillor for Streatham South Ward