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Calls for TfL to take over Southern if services not restored within a month

The troubled Southern franchise should be taken over by Transport for London (TfL) if services are not restored within a month, London TravelWatch has said.

Following widespread delays, Southern has introduced an emergency timetable that cancelled 341 services a day for the next four weeks, although it has since restored 16 of them.

London mayor Sadiq Khan has said TfL should take over the franchise from its current operators Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR).

Stephen Locke, chair of London TravelWatch, said: “At the end of the four week period, it is essential that the DfT and Southern carry out a swift review of progress. If it is not possible to reinstate the 341 lost services at this point, they should take up the welcome offer from the mayor of London to make Transport for London's operational expertise available to help turn the service round.

“Southern’s passengers have suffered enough. The situation is urgent, and now is the time to make full use of the strategic agreement between DfT and TfL announced earlier this year.”

But Paul Maynard, the newly appointed minister for rail, has refused to give a date on when he expects Southern services to be restored to normal.

A GTR spokesperson said that the restored services have been hit this week by circumstances outside GTR’s control, including overrun engineering works on Monday, a hole caused by a collapsing sewer that closed lines into London Bridge on Tuesday, and multiple signal failures.

They added: “Right now, at GTR, all our focus is on resolving the immediate issues to restore the service that passengers rightly expect, not arguments about political control. We apologise unreservedly to passengers for the quality of service they’re presently experiencing. We are committed to a long-term franchise, reporting to the DfT”

Charles Horton, CEO of GTR, and other GTR staff met with Southern passengers at an event at London Victoria yesterday morning to try to address their frustration at the delays.

12.15pm UPDATE

RMT, which has led strikes on Southern over the introduction of driver-operated only services, has called for the Southern franchise to be taken off GTR immediately and given to Directly Operated Railways.

Mick Cash, general secretary of RMT, said: “There is no excuse whatsoever for the Government wasting any more time in pulling the plug on the basket-case Govia Thameslink operation. It has failed, it continues to fail and they should be terminated with immediate effect."

(Image c. Lauren Hurley from PA Wire and Press Association Images)

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Neil Palmer   22/07/2016 at 17:23

Mick Cash, Yes you could call it a failure, but that's mostly down to you.

John Grant   22/07/2016 at 17:50

TfL seems to be on somewhat of a land grab, having taken over several of the services out of Liverpool Street not long ago, and a few others. At this rate they'll soon be running not only everything inside the M25 but also a lot that's outside it.

Martin T   22/07/2016 at 18:07

This "within a month" is deadline by London TravelWatch is stupid and they should know better. Southern Railway will be introducing DCO on 21 August. Assuming that ASLEF drivers do not refuse to operate trains, it means that from that date services will start to improve since the trains can operate without the on-board supervisor if necessary. It may take months to get back to normal but once the DCO services have started there will be no way back. Just give it time. Things can only get better.

Andrew Gwilt   23/07/2016 at 12:41

TfL and London Overground could take over some of Southern's suburban routes such as Cattenham Corner, Caterham, Epsom, Epsom Downs, Sutton, East Croydon, South Croydon and Purley.

Gabriel Oaks   25/07/2016 at 09:53

It doesn't matter who runs the franchise the issues with Mick Cash and his union on DOO (a precursor to the SW franchise next year) will still remain. The London Bridge rebuilding will still remain. Such posturing by the London Mayor simply demonstrates his lack of knowledge and understanding of the situation in his rush to take over more rail services. Finally the argument over DOO has long left the station (several decades ago).

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