Last week Ken Livingstone suggested City Hall could take over the rest of London’s suburban rail services.
Regardless of their political leanings, I suspect many Londoners will think that’s a pretty decent ambition even if they question how Livingstone can be so sure of the cost savings he claims in support of it.
Transport for London already has experience of running a rail service through London Overground, one of the nation’s most successful rail services.
Along with C2C, London Overground is regularly at or near the top of Network Rail’s performance charts:
Team Boris responded to Livingstone’s proposal with this statement:
“It is the same old Ken Livingstone who spent eight years making promises but not delivering. He talked about taking over rail powers for eight years, but never acted.
“In contrast, Mayor Boris Johnson is actually delivering on his promises and is already in negotiations with Government about bringing suburban rail services under his control.”
The Note to Editor claims:
“London Overground. This was talked about under Ken Livingstone, but delivered under Boris Johnson. He fought for and won the funding to extend the East London line thus creating an orbital railway connecting the outer London Boroughs. Final phase – the extension to Clapham Junction – will open this year.”
The problem is, the first part of this statement is untrue.
Agreement for City Hall and TfL to take over what is now London Overground was reached in February 2006 – more than two years before Boris was elected as Mayor.
The London Overground brand was subsequently launched in September 2006, a contractor to operate the service appointed in June 2007, trains ordered the following month, and services commenced in November 2007.
TfL’s own website is clear that “London Overground was launched in 2007”.
Surely even on Boris’s calendar November 2007 predated May 2008?
And it chimes with criticism Andrew Gilligan made in his Telegraph blog about Boris’ rebuttal machinery.
In an election period everyone expects candidates to gold plate their achievements, but there’s a huge difference between claiming credit for delivering something which was just a sketchy idea under the former administration and rewriting history.