London mayor Sadiq Khan says "it's vital" to devolve more commuter routes to TfL to get services back on track

 
Rebecca Smith
The mayor said it was vital more commuter routes were devolved to TfL
The mayor said it was vital more commuter routes were devolved to TfL (Source: Getty)

Sadiq Khan today said it was "vital" the government devolves more commuter routes to Transport for London (TfL) to tackle the "terrible services inflicted on London rail passengers".

His comments were in response to a new National Audit Office report, which found passengers on the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) franchise suffered the worst service on the rail network.

The parliament's spending watchdog said in its report that the franchise had not delivered value for money, with criticism of the Department for Transport (DfT) for not seeking sufficient assurance that GTR would have enough train drivers when it took on the franchise.

Read more: Southern rail franchise passengers suffer "worst service" in Britain

Today, London mayor Khan said the report was "yet more damning evidence of the terrible services inflicted on London’s rail passengers by Govia Thameslink and the government".

"It’s no wonder Londoners are so fed up with services that are regularly late, overcrowded and increasingly expensive," he added.

It’s vital that the government leaves behind its broken franchise model and devolves more commuter routes to TfL. Only then can Londoners finally get the affordable, high-volume, high-frequency suburban metro services they deserve.

Since Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) started operating the franchise in July 2015, which is used by 900,000 passengers each day, around 146,000 services have been cancelled or delayed by more than 30 minutes. That is around 7.7 per cent of planned services, compared to 2.8 per cent on the rest of the network.

Over half of those disruptions were caused by GTR, predominantly due to strikes and shortages in train crew, said the NAO report. Other causes of disruption included the reliability of train fleets, Network Rail’s management of the rail network, and failures of track.

A DfT spokesperson said: "Clearly the disruption passengers have experienced is unacceptable but the NAO recognises that service has improved over the last 12 months. The government has taken a number of steps to ensure this improvement, including the provision of an additional £300m to improve reliability on the Brighton Main Line."

The mayor has long called for suburban rail services to be devolved to TfL, and the DfT said in November that it intended "to work with TfL to explore options for transferring selected services such as the west London line to TfL".

Last month, City Hall and YouGov published a survey which found backing for commuter trains in London to be put in TfL's control.

Read more: Exclusive: Over 25,000 Southern rail passengers miss out on compensation

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