London Mayor Sadiq Khan has rejected a Government offer to co-design the upcoming Southeastern rail franchise and reiterated his calls for surface rail services to be handed to Transport for London.
Last month ministers abandoned a previously agreed deal which would have seen TfL and the Department for Transport work to transfer services as each franchise came to an end.
Instead, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said TfL would be invited to help design the new Southeastern franchise and appoint a team member to work alongside DfT officials on the project.
Yesterday the minister defended his decision, which has been criticised by a cross party alliance of MPs, Assembly Members and councillors, saying that London was being offered the same input as other regions.
Mr Khan has now written to Mr Grayling rejecting the offer, branding the current franchise model as a “repeatedly tried and failed approach” and re-iterating his belief that only TfL’s London Overground model, in which services are provided under a carefully supervised contract, can deliver improvements for passengers.
He said: “Sadly the Government’s proposals for commuter rail services are no different to what we’ve seen before and I fear passengers will face more years of unacceptable service levels.
“I am therefore left with no choice but to walk away from the government’s fundamentally flawed plans.”
Conservatives on the London Assembly have accused Mr Khan of “throwing his toys out of the pram” by rejecting the Government’s offer.
Transport spokesperson Keith Prince AM said: “Instead of seeking to address concerns the government had over his ability to take on these services, he has thrown a tantrum, shown his complete ineptitude at this level of politics and proved the government right.
“He was given an opportunity to help shape the future of mainline rail but, with his pathetic refusal to take a seat at the table, Sadiq Khan has abdicated his responsibility as Mayor.
“This is disastrous news for commuters desperate for improved services who deserve to have their political representatives putting their views across at the highest level.”