Bring parts of GTR franchise under control of TfL, says deputy mayor for transport

London’s new deputy mayor for transport has called on the government to bring significant parts of struggling Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) franchise under control of TfL.

Heidi Alexander’s comments come after the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan wrote to Chris Grayling demanding talks to get underway about transferring many of the franchise’s key London routes to TfL as soon as 2020.

Under a proposed restructure of the GTR franchise, responsibility for the London services currently run by Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) would come under TfL control in 2020, the earliest opportunity if GTR has its franchise stripped early.

GTR have been in the headlines frequently in the past several months, most notably for apologising following its tumultuous introduction of new timetables on 20 May. The company faces being stripped of its franchises unless performances on its services rapidly improve.

Mayor Khan has offered the help of TfL officials to assist in improving the franchise, noting that cooperation is needed across government and party lines to ensure GTR customers enjoy a more reliable and frequent service.

Speaking at a transport conference last week, Alexander said Govia Thameslink’s services are “blighting the lives of Londoners,” adding that GTR could damage the city’s econoy if it continues further.

“Transport for London’s record of running successful rail services in the capital shows that giving it control of GTR’s beleaguered routes out of Moorgate is a no-brainer,” she noted. “The Mayor has offered the immediate assistance of TfL staff to work with the DfT to make the franchise work better, ahead of TfL being ready to take over the entire service in 2020.”

Last month chief executive Charles Horton resigned from the company following “huge frustration” from passengers using the GTR’s services.

In May GTR suffered a second consecutive year where passenger numbers fell— industrial disputes, staffing issues, and cancellations led to a fall of around 2 million users in 2017-18.

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Image credit:  Isabel Infantes, EMPICS Entertainment


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