London Assembly calls for government to hand over running of Southeastern rail services to TfL

By Joe Talora, Local Democracy Reporter

The Government should reconsider handing over suburban rail services to TfL following the takeover of Southeastern trains, according to the London Assembly.

It was announced on Tuesday that Southeastern – which runs trains from London to East Sussex and Kent – would be stripped of its franchise and services would be taken over by the Government after it failed to declare more than £25 million of taxpayer funding.

The Government takeover has prompted renewed calls in the capital for suburban rail services to be placed under the control of TfL to improve reliability and provide a better experience for passengers.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has repeatedly called for greater devolution of rail services in London and the London Assembly transport committee has now renewed those calls following Tuesday’s announcement.

Transport committee chair Caroline Pidgeon said that the Government’s attention should be drawn to the successes that TfL has had so far with TfL Rail and the London Overground, which have led to “more efficient rail services throughout the capital”.

She said: “Today’s news should focus minds on how important it is for London to have a reliable, efficient transport network, particularly after the upheaval of the pandemic.

“While we wait for the implementation of Great British Railways in the Williams-Shapps Plan, it’s worth drawing the government’s attention to the success of TfL Rail and the London Overground, which has led to more efficient rail services throughout the Capital.

“The simplest plan would be for the Government to hand-over control of all suburban rail lines to Transport for London, which will integrate rail lines across Greater London into a single, centralised network.”

Prior to Southeastern’s takeover by the Government, Sadiq Khan had lobbied for its suburban services to be devolved to TfL, as well as those of South Western rail.

In his re-election manifesto from earlier this year, Mr Khan also outlined plans to work with the Department for Transport (DfT) to have Great Northern services from Moorgate devolved to TfL, though those talks appear to have stalled.

The Williams-Shapps review, published earlier this year, outlined plans for replacing National Rail with a new body – Great British Railways – which will be a single national body responsible for awarding contracts, planning services and managing fares.

The review had sparked hopes in City Hall that TfL could be granted greater control of London’s suburban railways, as it was described as a “base model” for what GBR was aiming to achieve.

But Keith Williams, the author of the review, poured cold water on these hopes during a meeting of the London Assembly transport committee earlier this month.

Mr Williams told the committee that, while local authorities such as City Hall would have “sufficient input” over the running of rail services, they would still be expected to support the “single national network”.



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One thought on “London Assembly calls for government to hand over running of Southeastern rail services to TfL

  • 1 October 2021 at 08:11

    Not going to happen
    This incompetent misgovernment have a vendetta against TfL & are deliberately trying to bankrupt it, so they can wreck what transport system we do have in London ( For profit, of course )
    Not helped by the idiot Khan’s “Fares Freeze” of course, but the spiteful & mean tactics employed by BoZo’s minions is much worse.


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