London’s new deputy mayor for transport Heidi Alexander will today call for Transport for London (TfL) to take over parts of the trouble-hit Govia Thameslink Railway franchise after a train timetable shake-up caused chaos.
In her first major public speech in her new job, Alexander will say today that TfL should take over parts of the GTR franchise in 2020, branding the move a “no-brainer”.
Passengers have suffered since new train timetables were introduced in May, with a raft of cancellations and sudden delays and disruption becoming par for the course.
Under the proposed rejig, responsibility for the London services currently run by Southern and Great Northern would come under TfL control at the earliest possible opportunity – 2020, if GTR has the franchise stripped early.
Read more: Government readying operator of last resort over Govia Thameslink Railway
Alexander will say today:
The crisis with Govia Thameslink is blighting the lives of Londoners, and risks causing our city economic damage if it continues much longer.
Transport for London’s record of running successful rail services in the capital shows that giving it control of GTR’s beleaguered routes out of Moorgate is a no-brainer.
The mayor has offered the immediate assistance of TfL staff to work with the DfT to make the franchise work better, ahead of TfL being ready to take over the entire service in 2020.
“We also stand ready to take over West London Line services between Clapham Junction and Willesden Junction, but our ambition doesn’t stop there – metro services across Southern, South Western and Southeastern should be our goal,” she will add. “Hundreds of millions of journeys are made on these services every year. Let’s find a way to bring the success and benefits of the TfL Rail and Overground to London’s wider rail network.”
The new deputy mayor for transport will set out the ambitions at a conference hosted by Centre for London in partnership with TfL.
GTR meanwhile has apologised for the troubles and pledged to bring in a “more dependable” timetable from 15 July that will prioritise peak services to give people more certainty on journeys to and from work.
Transport minister Jo Johnson said this week that the government is carrying out a “hard review” of GTR at the moment, gearing up for the eventuality of needing to bring in an operator of last resort should it conclude the train operator has been negligent, and GTR fail with the revised timetable coming this month.
Johnson also shed more light on details of compensation for long-suffering Thameslink passengers, saying it would be comparable to a previous payout to Southern rail season ticket holders.
Thousands of Southern commuters affected by months of strike action were able to claim a refund for the equivalent of one month’s travel.
What does TfL want to take over?
Responsibility for the London services currently run by Southern and Great Northern (TSGN)
Includes the Great Northern Services running out of Moorgate to Enfield, Stevenage and Welwyn Garden City, as well as suburban services out of Victoria and London Bridge to places such as Croydon and Sutton
Read more: Govia Thameslink Railway promises ‘more dependable’ timetable this month