Sadiq Khan urges Transport for London to take "immediate control of Southern Rail" until problems are resolved

 
James Nickerson
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Khan said the service is an embarrassment to London (Source: Souther)

Transport for London should take immediate control of Southern Rail until problems on its lines are resolved, the mayor of London has said.

Sadiq Khan has come out today to voice concern over the service and state he urgently wants to put a top TfL team in charge of failing Govia Thameslink Railways' Southern franchise.

The TfL team would run Southern Rail until the government is able to resolve the longer-term problems that have led to widespread disruption for thousands of commuters.

Read more: The RMT is ignoring the interests of commuters and its members

It comes after an emergency timetable came in, resulting in over 340 trains being cancelled per day.

Khan believes that TfL are best placed to sort out the problems that he has described as “an embarrassment to our city.” Last week, he called on the Department for Transport (DfT) to take temporary control of the railway.

In his letter to new transport secretary Chris Grayling, Khan said: “Thousands of Londoners and longer-distance commuters simply cannot get to and from work, and are understandably furious.

“There is no doubt that the franchise must now be in default, and I have previously called for your Department to step in and take control.

“Notwithstanding the wider discussions on devolution, I now offer to go one step further and put my senior TfL team in charge of the GTR Southern franchise until we get a permanent resolution."

Read more: Southern is going to cut 341 trains a day in a revised timetable

Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat London Assembly transport spokesperson, agreed, but wants the measures taken further.

“As a daily user of Sothern Rail I am painfully aware of its appalling service that has been provided over many months. Fundamental errors have been made in terms of planning by its senior management.

“The permanent solution must be stripping out much of the franchise from Govia and running it by London Overground."

A passenger watchdog also welcomed the move "to take immediate control of Southern Rail services until the problems being experienced by the operator, which are disrupting so many passengers, are resolved".

London Travel Watch said: "Something has to change and we urge the DfT and GTR to accept this offer and enter into discussions about how they can work together with TfL as London’s strategic transport authority to improve things for hard pressed passengers."

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