Call for rail­way ‘de­vo­lu­tion’

Mayor says tak­ing con­trol is vi­tal to im­prove train ser­vices

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Amita Joshi amita.joshi@trin­i­tymir­

LON­DON­ERS will face ris­ing rail fares as the gov­ern­ment an­nounced ser­vices will not come un­der Sadiq Khan’s power.

Trans­port Sec­re­tary Chris Grayling re­jected Sadiq Khan’s plans to con­trol rail ser­vices com­ing to the cap­i­tal, say­ing he only wants Trans­port for London (TfL) to be “closely in­volved”.

De­spite for­mer Trans­port Sec­re­tary Pa­trick McLoughlin as­sur­ing Lon­don­ers TfL would take con­trol of sub­ur­ban rail as each fran­chise came up for re­newal, the de­ci­sion has now been “for­mally re­jected”.

On Tues­day London As­sem­bly mem­bers urged the Cab­i­net to re­think the de­ci­sion, claim­ing it did not put train pas­sen­gers first.

Mayor Khan ar­gued: “The only proven way of im­prov­ing ser­vices for pas­sen­gers is giv­ing con­trol of sub­ur­ban rail lines to TfL.

“This is why the gov­ern­ment and pre­vi­ous Mayor pub­lished a joint prospec­tus ear­lier this year.”

He added: “Any­thing short of this sim­ply won’t make the im­prove­ments des­per­ately needed.

“It is a fact, TfL lines have more fre­quent trains, fewer de­lays and can­cel­la­tions, more staff at sta­tions and fares are frozen.

“We will keep push­ing the Gov­ern­ment to de­liver the rail de­vo­lu­tion they have promised and that is needed.”

The news comes as Mr Grayling faces calls for res­ig­na­tion af­ter a leaked doc­u­ment to the Evening Stan­dard from 2013 said the de­ci­sion was to “keep sub­ur­ban rail ser­vices out of the clutches of any fu­ture Labour Mayor”.

Should the de­ci­sion not be re­voked, south cen­tral, south­west and north London ser­vices would not trans­fer to TfL un­til at least 2020.

Com­muters have faced de­lays and can­cel­la­tions due to ma­jor prob­lems on South­ern Rail ser­vices, whilst pay­ing high prices for tick­ets.

There is cross party sup­port for de­vo­lu­tion from MPs, as­sem­bly mem­bers and coun­cils in­side and out of London, City Hall to­day an­nounced on Wed­nes­day.

As­sem­bly Mem­bers (AM) to­day agreed a unan­i­mous mo­tion call­ing for the Sec­re­tary of State to re­con­sider his de­ci­sion not to de­volve fran­chise man­age­ment of South­east­ern ser­vices.

A let­ter will also be writ­ten to Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May to ex­press City Hall’s views.

South­ern Rail­way ser­vices were set to come un­der TfL – but the Tory gov­ern­ment have re­jected those plans.

AM Len Du­vall, who pro­posed the mo­tion, said: “Ser­vices man­aged by TfL have some of the best per­for­mances in the coun­try, whilst pas­sen­gers on some London and south east­ern sub­ur­ban routes have ex­pe­ri­enced amongst the worst.

“We need to move be­yond po­lit­i­cal point scor­ing and the Trans­port Sec­re­tary needs to de­volve fran­chise man­age­ment to TfL who have proven ca­pa­ble of run­ning de­cent ser­vices.

“It’s time for the Prime Min­is­ter to in­ter­vene and make this hap­pen.”

Peter Mac­di­armid/Getty Images

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