Network Rail and train operator Southern are not “being honest” about the nature and scope of problems affecting trains running into London Bridge according to one leading London politician.
Passengers have faced three-months of disruption as operators have struggled to keep to a new timetable needed to facilitate the station’s £6bn redevelopment.
Services have also been disrupted by faults in a new signalling system which has caused delays and cancellations since work began in December.
Last week a combination of signal failures and a collision between a train and man near Streatham station saw police called to ensure the safety of huge crowds frustrated passengers.
Commuters faced further misery on Monday morning after a broken-down engineering train at London Bridge caused delays to rush hour services.
Network Rail warned disruption would last until at least 5pm and advised passengers to use alternative routes.
Both Network Rail and Southern Rail have repeatedly apologised for the chaos being endured by passengers but promises of improvements have now been branded “profoundly unjustified”.
Val Shawcross, Labour’s transport spokesperson on the London Assembly, has questioned whether the organisations have the in-house capability to draw up improvement plans.
Ms Shawcross has written to Transport Secretary Patrick Mcloughlin, who is responsible for most of London’s surface rail services, urging him to seek help from Transport for London.
In addition to the Tube and DLR, the Mayor’s transport agency operates the highly successful London Overground service which regularly tops rail performance charts.
In her letter, Ms Shawcross says: “Both organisations clearly do not have the capacity to deliver their own improvement plans and I do not believe they are being honest about the problems, especially on the topic of signal failures” and calls on the transport secretary to produce “a clear strategy and set of contingency plans that will avoid these issues reoccurring at London Bridge.”
She adds: “I suggest that you put in place an expert group of successful rail industry professionals to act as a support team to Network Rail and Southern, to give them additional capacity to get through the current crisis.
“I would also urge you to consider the arrangements for paying compensation to passengers on TfL services, and take steps to replicate these to compensate rail passengers for the distress and disruption this has caused to their daily lives.
“Transport for London is now a superb and successful Rail and Tube operator and you should seek their help and advice. I urge you to begin working towards providing the reliable rail service that this government promised, and leading from the front.”