An embarrassment, a bailout and a failing franchise: Politicians blast Southern's £20m funding deal

 
Mark Sands
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Sadiq Khan is among the officials blasting the decision to spend £20m on improving Southern services

Politicians from City Hall, the House of Commons and the House of Lords have blasted £20m of new funding for Southern Rail, announced earlier today.

The Department for Transport (DfT) revealed the cash as part of a package of measures to improve performance on the lines.

It will also see the appointment of a new project board to collaborate with the DfT and Network Rail to oversee rapid improvement.

However, London mayor Sadiq Khan has been among those to slam the move.

Khan – who has called for Transport for London to take over the operation of the lines – said performance had been an “embarrassment” to London.

"That's why I offered to send in my top TfL team to make sure that the line is run far better. So I'm disappointed that the Government has declined this offer and that a further £20m of taxpayers' money is being spent, especially given that TfL is going to be taking over part of the line in the future,” he said.

Read More: Southern Rail restores 119 services of the 341 cancelled in July

And his Labour colleague, shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald added it was clear the Southern franchise is failing.

“Passengers are enduring the worst delays in the country, fares are up 25 per cent and it is not clear how this investment will tackle the underlining failing on the network,” McDonald said.

Baroness Jenny Randerson, Liberal Democrat Transport spokesman was similarly biting, saying: “The Government has finally acknowledged the mess that Southern is in, but this bailout will do little to appease passengers when the money is left largely in the hands of a failing franchise that has proved to be untrustworthy.”

It comes after Streatham MP Chuka Umunna earlier waded in, saying the investment "beggars belief".

Announcing the plans earlier today, the DfT said that monet would be split between projects to accelerate repairs, and hire new staff at some stations.

The £20m fund includes:

  • £2m to be spent on more rapid response teams to fix faults more quickly
  • £2.5m to be spent on accelerated train maintenance
  • £0.8m investment in extra signal supervisors to keep trains moving across the network
  • £0.9m investment in a series of measures to minimise the impact of bridge strikes

  • Money to hire extra staff at key stations including East Croydon and Gatwick to make sure trains run on time

 

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