Latest Rail News

05.01.17

Khan pledges ‘major’ passenger benefits if TfL devolution goes ahead

London mayor Sadiq Khan has pledged ‘major benefits’ to the city’s suburban rail passengers if commuter services are eventually devolved, including a match of TfL’s fares freeze until 2020.

The other five pledges made by Khan are reduced waiting times and faster journeys, safer stations staffed at all times, fewer cancellations owing to strikes and more reliable services.

The pledges come a week after a YouGov poll for the Greater London Authority showed that 58% of Londoners support the devolution of London’s suburban rail services to TfL, despite the transport secretary Chris Grayling choosing to veto the previously agreed deal late last year.

“Today’s five pledges set out some of the major practical benefits rail devolution would provide for passengers in and around London,” Khan said as he announced the pledges.

“The devolution of London’s suburban rail services is backed by the overwhelming majority of Londoners, in addition to councils, MPs, and assembly members from all political parties. It is only the transport secretary who continues to bury his head in the sand, and refuses to acknowledge the huge benefits rail devolution could provide.”

Khan’s pledges aim to combat this week’s rail fare increase, which saw prices shoot up by a further 2.3%, and the considerable disruption experienced by passengers on the three franchises that pass through the city, particularly the beleaguered Southern rail.

The mayor has promised to run services purely based on train service reliability and high-quality customer service rather than profit, integrating TfL services such as Oyster cards and contactless payment into every train station where they do not currently exist.

City Hall said that it would also work alongside Network Rail to increase train frequencies by making improvements to the city’s tracks, junctions and signalling, while also installing more staff and ticket barriers at stations to tackle fare evasion.

“By focusing purely on reliability and customer service, passengers will finally get the frequency and reliability of trains they desperately need and deserve,” Khan added.

The mayor has already submitted a 99-page business plan to DfT for TfL to assume control of the inner-London sections of commuter railway lines, claiming that rail devolution would be cost neutral with costs recouped through additional passenger revenue.

Grayling has poured cold water on the idea, saying in the House of Commons that the benefits TfL was proposing from the move were not worth the “massive reorganisation”.

However, Grayling’s real motivations for scuppering the deal have been cast into doubt after a leaked letter he wrote to then mayor Boris Johnson in 2013 suggested he wanted to keep suburban rail services ‘out of the clutches’ of a Labour mayor.

Under the current franchise timetables, Southeastern, South West and Southern rail services could be gradually transferred to TfL between 2018 and September 2021 when individual contracts come to an end. However, DfT opposition would postpone any devolution until at least the mid-2020s.

(Image c. Yui Mok PA Wire)

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Comments

Jerry Alderson   05/01/2017 at 19:39

How is Khan going to ensure "fewer cancellations owing to strikes"? (I corrected bad English) Does he mean introducing Driver Controlled Operation where it is not already present as London Overground did in 2013?

Richard   05/01/2017 at 23:26

I suppose when you get tired of posing on trains etc., you have to come up with some other form of self-publicity? The problem is it is sadly pure pipedream stuff. Tfl is already struggling financially after this guy's half-hearted Fares Freeze and cuts and this will only get worse. How he thinks he can take over the remaining London centric National Rail suburban services and invest in improvements is hilarious. What will be chooped to pay for it then Sadiq?

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