Southern Rail in breach of franchise agreement says London Assembly

Oliver Gill
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Delays are currently a common occurrence on the Southern Rail network

The London Assembly today urged the government to strip Govia Thameslink of its Southern Rail franchise and claimed that it is in breach of its contract.

A motion was passed to put pressure on government to reconsider its decision to not strip Govia Thameslink of the stricken franchise.

"With Southern passengers having faced months of delayed and cancelled services, it's disappointing that the government didn't take decisive action many months ago," said Florence Eshalomi who tabled the motion.

The motion concluded that the government should pass day-to-day management of the franchise to Transport for London (TfL).

"Londoners will undoubtedly be looking forward to the day TfL run their suburban services. There's clearly no quick fix to Southern's problems and government should urgently look to re-tender the franchise so TfL can start the takeover process sooner rather than later," said Eshalomi.

The motion passed by 14 votes to five said:
This Assembly notes that, in July, an emergency timetable was introduced by Govia Thameslink Railway, which resulted in 341 services being cut. This follows months of delays and cancellations to their services.

It is beyond doubt that Govia Thameslink Railway is failing to provide an adequate service, and it must now be considered to be in breach of its franchise agreement.

This Assembly welcomes the fact that, in January 2016, the Department for Transport announced proposals that would see the transfer of rail services that operate mostly or wholly within the Greater London boundary to TfL when the current franchises are due for renewal.

This decision followed the London Assembly Transport Committee's report Devolving Rail Services to London: Towards a South London Metro, which recommended reform of London's rail services.

This Assembly further notes the Mayor's manifesto commitment to "push for TfL to take over responsibility for more commuter routes", and his recent offer to the Department for Transport to put a senior TfL team in charge of the Govia Thameslink Railway Southern franchise, which was subsequently rejected by the Rail Minister, Paul Maynard MP.

This Assembly therefore calls on the government to reconsider its decision not to strip Govia Thameslink Railway of its franchise, pass day-to-day management of the franchise to TfL, and urgently re-tender the franchise so that London metro services are passed permanently to TfL.

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