London Assembly members have called on Transport for London and Network Rail to work together to ensure passengers “have a rail network that is fit for purpose”.
TfL runs two of the capital’s rail services, London Overground and TfL Rail, with the rest of the network operated by private sector firms chosen by the Department for Transport, while Network Rail manages track and associated infrastructure.
In a new report published today by the Assembly’s transport committee, AMs say private firms have often failed to innovate and match the service available elsewhere, highlighting the lack of ‘turn up and go’ services on non-London Overground services.
The report says this failure means many Londoners “have the choice of only a few trains an hour,” with services often “crowded and at times unreliable”.
Two years ago ministers abandoned plans to devolve responsibility for rail services to City Hall and TfL.
While the committee says it “continues to support further devolution”, it adds that AMs “believe it is critical that improvements to London’s suburban rail services are prioritised now and regardless of which operators are running the services.”
It’s therefore called for a single rail strategy to be drawn up, with all those involved in running rail services undertaking to deliver on it.
Today’s report also calls for “strategic, targeted upgrades” by Network Rail which would allow “more frequent and longer trains to run on existing infrastructure across London”.
It also urges increased funding to make stations accessible to passengers with mobility impairments.
Caroline Pidgeon AM, Chair of the Transport Committee said: “The rail network is an essential part of the rhythm and movement in this city.
“For Londoners and visitors to get around our city our rail network has to be world-class. Currently, it is not.
“Our recommendations set out priorities including investment to allow more frequent and longer trains to run on London’s suburban rail network – a metro style service that we have long been promised; and better accessibility to stations for cyclists, pedestrians and passengers with disabilities.
“We are also calling for a rail strategy for London in order that TfL and Network Rail can ensure a sharper, joined-up focus on delivering for London’s rail passengers.
“For London’s rail network to thrive, and for passengers to get the service they deserve, we challenge the Mayor, TfL and Network Rail to deliver on the priorities set out in our report.”