Lon­don Assem­bly slams rail and calls for strate­gic plan

Rail (UK) - - News - Philip Haigh Con­tribut­ing Writer [email protected]­me­dia.co.uk @phi­la­trail

LON­DON has a fail­ing rail net­work with trains that are too small, too in­fre­quent and too un­re­li­able.

That’s the con­clu­sion of Bro­ken Rails, a re­port from Lon­don Assem­bly’s trans­port com­mit­tee that calls for Net­work Rail to de­liver a plan con­tain­ing strate­gic and tar­geted up­grades for metro ser­vices that it says have been promised for years.

Com­mit­tee Chair­man Caro­line Pid­geon said: “Our rec­om­men­da­tions set out pri­or­i­ties in­clud­ing in­vest­ment to al­low more fre­quent and longer trains to run on Lon­don’s sub­ur­ban rail net­work - a metro-style ser­vice that we have long been promised, and bet­ter ac­ces­si­bil­ity to sta­tions for cy­clists, pedes­tri­ans and pas­sen­gers with dis­abil­i­ties.

“We are also call­ing for a rail strat­egy for Lon­don, in or­der that TfL and Net­work Rail can en­sure a sharper, joined-up fo­cus on de­liv­er­ing for Lon­don’s rail pas­sen­gers. For Lon­don’s rail net­work to thrive, and for pas­sen­gers to get the ser­vice they de­serve, we chal­lenge the Mayor, TfL and Net­work Rail to de­liver on the pri­or­i­ties set out in our re­port.”

The com­mit­tee says its key de­mand is that NR de­liv­ers “the large num­ber of small-scale in­ter­ven­tions” to al­low more and big­ger trains to run.

Its re­port doesn’t de­tail any of these in­ter­ven­tions. Mean­while, many op­er­a­tors al­ready run 12-car trains into Lon­don, while oth­ers such as South West­ern Rail­way are bring­ing in new fleets with in­creased ca­pac­ity.

Other rec­om­men­da­tions in­clude call­ing on NR, train op­er­a­tors and Trans­port for Lon­don to cre­ate user groups for ev­ery sta­tion; that NR and TfL cre­ate a sin­gle rail strat­egy for Lon­don; that the De­part­ment for Trans­port in­creases ‘Ac­cess for All’ fund­ing; and that TfL con­sid­ers all op­tions for in­creas­ing Lon­don rail fund­ing.

The re­port says that the Trans­port Com­mit­tee con­tin­ues to sup­port its pre­de­ces­sor’s call for heavy rail ser­vices in Lon­don to be de­volved from DfT fran­chises to the Lon­don Mayor’s con­trol.

TfL and NR should jointly own Lon­don’s strate­gic rail plan, ac­cord­ing to the com­mit­tee. It wel­comes moves by DfT and NR to­wards greater track-and-train in­te­gra­tion, but is con­cerned that this will con­tinue to leave Lon­don’s ser­vices frag­mented over sev­eral routes and op­er­a­tors.

It sug­gests that a strate­gic plan would make the case for fund­ing stronger by hav­ing clear pri­or­i­ties and a nar­ra­tive around how more money could un­lock jobs, hous­ing and growth. This could also un­lock third-party fund­ing, it sug­gests.

The Lon­don Mayor has a se­ries of rail in­vest­ments that in­clude com­plet­ing Cross­rail, con­tin­u­ing to plan Cross­rail 2, ex­tend­ing the Bak­er­loo Line to Lewisham, cre­at­ing a sub­ur­ban metro net­work, and de­liv­er­ing sta­tion ca­pac­ity im­prove­ments.

The mayor is also pro­mot­ing a plan to cre­ate a West Lon­don Or­bital line us­ing the Dud­ding Hill freight route. This line would con­nect Houn­slow with Hen­don and West Hamp­stead via Old Oak Com­mon and Har­les­den. Old Oak Com­mon is one of four strate­gic in­ter­changes pro­moted in last spring’s May­oral Trans­port Strat­egy (the oth­ers are Clapham Junc­tion, Lewisham and Strat­ford).

The mayor’s strat­egy notes that Clapham Junc­tion and Strat­ford are es­tab­lished hubs, while Lewisham is a lo­cal hub that would need a ma­jor up­grade and more fre­quent rail con­nec­tions to take on a strate­gic role. Old Oak Com­mon will be the site of a HS2 sta­tion, with the Mayor hop­ing to de­liver fur­ther trans­port im­prove­ments (such as a sta­tion) to al­low in­ter­change with lo­cal or­bital ser­vices.

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