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London Assembly calls for DfT rethink on South Eastern devolution

The DfT have been told to “go back to the drawing board” and return to its 2016 plan of devolving some routes for the South Eastern franchise to TfL and the mayor of London.

In a letter to the transport secretary, the chair of the London Assembly transport committee, Caroline Pidgeon AM, stated that she was “extremely disappointed” that the government had not taken the opportunity offered by the franchise renewal to devolve London suburban rail services to the mayor and TfL.

Pidgeon added that any agreement reached with the new franchisee about South Eastern should state that routes could be devolved within the terms of the franchise.

She claims that a number of benefits would be yielded through devolution, including higher capacity due to TfL investment in longer and more frequent trains, as well as better reliability, integrated fares and better accessibility for customers.

On top of that, the transport committee chair stated that devolution could be beneficial for economic development as TfL could co-ordinate rail investment in line with wider strategies for London, and it would also strengthen accountability for passengers as responsibility for services would fall to the mayor.

“Regardless of whether the government accepts the widespread consensus on the need for devolution, we would urge the DfT to guarantee that the service standards delivered in the new South Eastern franchise match those on National Rail services that TfL oversees, specifically on the London Overground network,” said Pidgeon.

“This would include commitments to increase the frequency of metro services, provide for additional station staffing, improve passenger information, and increase the accessibility of services.”

Today’s news comes before the competition for the franchise opens, as the current franchise, operated by Southeastern, operated by Govia, expires in December 2018. In February, the government release its expression of interest document for the franchise.

This comes after a Transport Focus survey found that passengers on Southeastern wanted the new operator of the franchise to deal with disruption better and make carriages more spacious.

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Noam Bleicher   28/04/2017 at 08:44

It's blindingly obvious that the majority, if not all, 'all stations' rail services in the capital should go over to Overground. Major cities in every other European country have an S-Bahn or RER systems that are easy to understand and use. TfL and their concessionaires have shown themselves together to be excellent rail operators on the services they do operate, and I can only see the decision not to give them more services as a political one.

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