Closer in­te­gra­tion

… but puts a block on Trans­port for Lon­don’s plans to run more sub­ur­ban rail ser­vices in or­der to pi­lot closer in­te­gra­tion.

Rail (UK) - - Contents - An­drew Ro­den Con­tribut­ing Writer rail@bauer­me­dia.co.uk @AndyRo­den1

SEC­RE­TARY of State for Trans­port Chris Grayling has blocked Trans­port for Lon­don’s as­pi­ra­tions to run rail ser­vices out­side the cap­i­tal, by opt­ing to use the South­east­ern fran­chise to pi­lot greater in­te­gra­tion be­tween train op­er­a­tors and Net­work Rail (see pages 8-9).

TfL has long sought pow­ers to op­er­ate more rail ser­vices be­yond its ex­ist­ing bound­aries, and ear­lier this year the Govern­ment signed a prospec­tus on hand­ing con­trol to TfL of some sub­ur­ban routes op­er­ated by South­east­ern, South­ern and South West Trains.

TfL claimed in a busi­ness case de­liv­ered in Oc­to­ber that for ev­ery £1 in­vested in devo­lu­tion pro­pos­als there would be £4.30 in ben­e­fits ( RAIL 812). These ben­e­fits were claimed to in­clude more re­li­able ser­vices, bet­ter cus­tomer ser­vice and im­proved dis­abled ac­cess at no cost to cen­tral govern­ment.

In­stead, Grayling says he will be “invit­ing” TfL to be more closely in­volved in de­vel­op­ment of the next South­east­ern fran­chise, with a TfL rep­re­sen­ta­tive sec­onded to the fran­chise spec­i­fi­ca­tion team.

Lon­don Mayor Sadiq Khan re­acted im­me­di­ately to the an­nounce­ment on De­cem­ber 6, say­ing: “The only proven way of im­prov­ing ser­vices for pas­sen­gers is giv­ing con­trol of sub­ur­ban rail lines to TfL. This is why the Govern­ment and the pre­vi­ous Mayor pub­lished a joint prospec­tus ear­lier this year. There is cross­party sup­port for this from MPs, assembly mem­bers, coun­cils in­side and out of Lon­don, and busi­nesses and their rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

“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.”

A let­ter sent by Grayling (see right) to then Mayor of Lon­don Boris John­son in April 2013 out­lined his op­po­si­tion to devo­lu­tion am­bi­tions, ar­gu­ing that the cur­rent fran­chis­ing sys­tem would “mean MPs and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties from out­side the Lon­don area would have a re­mit over train ser­vices in our ar­eas, which I would not like to lose”.

Brom­ley and Chisle­hurst MP Bob Neill, chair­man of the Jus­tice Se­lect

Com­mit­tee and for­mer min­is­ter for Lon­don, said of Grayling af­ter the leak of the let­ter: “I think he has com­pro­mised his po­si­tion and should re­sign. It is quite clear that as far ago as 2013 he was as­sert­ing that he would op­pose any devo­lu­tion of rail fran­chises in Lon­don to a Labour mayor.

“In other words, he was do­ing it for a party po­lit­i­cal rea­son. It’s quite clear that when he came to the House of Com­mons and said he was do­ing so for fi­nan­cial rea­sons, that was not the truth. I think a min­is­ter who has done that is not fit to hold of­fice.”

Labour’s deputy leader Tom Wat­son de­scribed the leaked let­ter as “a dis­grace­ful rev­e­la­tion”, adding: “Labour’s Mayor of Lon­don put for­ward a plan which would see com­muters en­joy a bet­ter ser­vice and frozen fares. We now see the Tories have blocked this progress for their own nar­row po­lit­i­cal in­ter­est. It’s shame­ful and demon­strates that for all their blus­ter about car­ing about work­ing peo­ple, they al­ways put them­selves first.”

See Wol­mar, pages 56-57.

JACK BOSKETT/ RAIL.

South­east­ern 465044 ar­rives at Lon­don Bridge on Novem­ber 29, pass­ing a South­ern Class 455. Sec­re­tary of State for Trans­port Chris Grayling has blocked Trans­port for Lon­don’s as­pi­ra­tions to take over South East­ern sub­ur­ban op­er­a­tions in the next fran­chise.

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