London political and business leaders have given their responses to the news that inner suburban rail services are to be handed over to Transport for London.
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson:
“Our railways have been the workhorse of the London and South East economy since Victorian times.
“They’re key in the day-to-day lives of millions of people and vital to our future prosperity, and that’s exactly why this new partnership is such a seminal moment.
“By working closely together and taking on these new services, we’re going to emulate the success of the London Overground and give the entire capital and surrounding areas the services they truly deserve.”
Sadiq Khan, Labour candidate for Mayor of London:
“Many of London’s train users face a daily nightmare of delays, cancellations and overcrowded trains. That’s why I’ve been campaigning for some time for the Mayor to take control of who runs London’s commuter routes and insist on a better service for passengers.
“While today’s announcement is a step in the right direction, it’s still a consultation with no sign of a proper agreement with the relevant authorities. It will do little to address the anger and frustration of commuters who deserve action now.
“Rather than more inaction from the Government, we need to get on with giving control of London’s commuter routes to the Mayor as soon as the contracts allow.
“The Tories have been in Government for six years and City Hall for eight and have failed to listen to commuters. Londoners deserve an end to their rail misery now, not more delays.”
Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London:
“This news, while its is something I have long advocated, will still see some passengers waiting until 2021 – in the case those using Southern trains – to see any real changes in either service levels or lower fares.
“You have to ask why it has taken until just 4 months before the London Mayor elections for Tory ministers at the Department for Transport to finally accept that for too long people using these services have suffered from delays, disputes and disruption? They should sack the franchise holders now.
“If passengers are to be forced to wait for any improvements, ministers should be putting pressure on the train operators to improve their services, and allow those travelling before 07.30 to benefit from half price fares now , rather than in years.”
Sian Berry, Green party candidate for Mayor of London:
“This move will improve life for very many commuters. It will allow TfL to gradually take control over some suburban services as the current franchises fall due for renewal over the next few years. As such it’s a long-awaited step in the right direction.
“For far too long, suburban rail passengers have endured overcrowding, frequent cancellations and massive disruption to services at holiday periods, while the companies who run those trains make fat profits. It’s an obvious improvement to bring those routes under the control of TfL, which doesn’t need to make a profit and will focus on reinvestment not rewarding shareholders.
“My Fair Fares policy for London would make things even better for passengers served by those rail lines, by flattening the zones so that everyone in London eventually pays the same to get to work, and by introducing the one-hour ONE Ticket across all modes of transport, so that changing from train to Tube costs the same as changing from one Tube line to another.”
Zac Goldsmith, Conservative candidate for Mayor of London:
“Millions of people who live and work in Greater London rely on suburban rail services. Too often those services are not reliable or frequent enough because they’re not accountable to the people who actually use them. By giving the Mayor the power over these services higher standards can be set and improvements delivered.
“I have been working with Ministers on this issue as an MP and mayoral candidate and I strongly welcome this first step towards a better connected Greater London.
“However, all of this progress will be put at risk if Sadiq Khan is elected. As a Transport Minister responsible for London, Khan made no attempt to make this happen, has made no attempt to talk to Ministers about this as an MP or mayoral candidate, and couldn’t work with Government to deliver it.
“This is one of the clearest examples of why London needs a Mayor who can work with this Government to deliver for people who live and work in Greater London”
Val Shawcross, Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee:
“One of the main reasons why the Transport Committee advocated a devolved rail network is because we know that passengers want improvements on the rail service they use.
“They were most concerned with price and performance, which is perfectly understandable given the rising cost of rail travel. TfL has managed its Overground networks very effectively, so the majority of commuters would be happy to see them take control.
“It was clearly a no-brainer. The Government will have scored a big hit with passengers by agreeing to devolve additional rail franchises as they come up for renewal and I’m glad they finally listened to some common sense.”
Darren Johnson, Green party London Assembly member:
“This is fantastic news for commuters who have suffered years of poor services compared to the excellent performance of London Overground.
“Bringing local rail services in London under direct TfL control is long overdue and something Assembly Members have been pushing for a long time
“TfL should look at resolving many of the unfairnesses faced by south London rail users, including years of declining service frequency, the £10 photocard required for free travel for your children, and the steep costs for interchanges at many stations.”
Stephen Locke, Chair of passenger watchdog London TravelWatch:
“The publication of this joint rail prospectus is a very welcome step towards more consistent and joined up rail services for passengers in and around London. We have long supported the concept of rail devolution and hope that this new partnership between the DfT and TfL will allow them to build on the success of London Overground.
“We will now start to look at the details in the proposals and will produce a detailed response to the questions they pose.’
“A lot of work will be needed to turn these positive commitments into actual service improvements. The new arrangements for co-ordination need to put passengers first and will require close working with passenger bodies to ensure that the identified improvements are delivered on the ground.’
Richard Dilks, transport director at London First, the business lobby group:
“Some parts of London urgently need better commuter rail services. The London Overground example has shown what can be done to ramp up frequency and reliability.
“This plan to extend those principles more widely is exactly what the capital needs.”
Colin Stanbridge, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive:
“Businesses want to see better services and employees want better connections. Our own research shows that delays cancellations and overcrowding on commuter train services outside of the Underground and Overground network are one of the top transport issues affecting businesses.
“It is intolerable that poor quality train services into and out of London are having such a significant impact on the capital’s businesses.
“As the capital’s largest and most representative business organisation, LCCI has advocated exploration of the potential for TfL to take over responsibility for lines and services as each mainline franchise comes up for renewal.
“It makes total sense to join up our transport network under an integrated management body. Rationalisation in our view will help to overcome the issues that continue to plague train services into the Capital.”
Federation of Small Businesses:
“With the sheer volume of growth predicted in the capital over the next 10-20 years it is vitally important that TfL and DfT work together on managing this demand. The announcement today is welcomed as it will create more certainty and joined up thinking in terms of travel patterns to the southern parts of London.”