News from Len Duvall OBE: Anger over blocked rail devolution plans

13 December 2016

Local London Assembly Member Len Duvall AM has joined calls for the Government to reconsider handing over the reins for rail services on suburban routes to the Mayor of London.

Mr Duvall also expressed outrage at a leaked letter, in which Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told former Mayor, Boris Johnson, that he wanted to keep rail services “out of the clutches” of a Labour Mayor. The Assembly Member said the Minister’s “political point scoring” had side-lined the needs of passengers.

Earlier this month, Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, rejected Sadiq Khan’s proposals for Transport for London to take control of suburban rail services in London and the South East.

The Secretary of State’s decision comes despite his predecessor, Patrick McLoughlin, proposing in January that TfL could take control of suburban rail franchises, describing it as a move that would put passengers “at the heart of the rail network”.

Anger was raised further when a leaked letter sent from Chris Grayling to the then London Mayor Boris Johnson in 2013, suggested the Transport Secretary’s decision may have been politically motivated. In his letter, Chris Grayling wrote “I would like to keep suburban rail services out of the clutches of any future Labour mayor”.

Suburban rail devolution in London has cross party support in Parliament, across London councils, and on the London Assembly. It has happened in some areas already. The North London Line was taken under TfL’s control in 2007 and rebranded as London Overground.

Last year, TfL rail replaced some West Anglia services running to and from the capital. The most recent public performance measurements from Network Rail show TfL Rail in 1st place and London Overground in 2nd.

Len Duvall AM brought a motion on suburban rail devolution to the whole London Assembly, where it was supported by all parties.

Local Labour London Assembly Member Len Duvall AM said:

Rail franchises must work for passengers, not just train operators.

It’s the greatest shame for passengers in Greenwich and Lewisham that the Minister’s political point scoring has side-lined their needs.

I would urge residents to write to their local MP, regardless of their political party. We have one last opportunity to secure a better rail service for Londoners.

The fact remains that where TfL have managed services, we’ve seen some of the best performances. If allowing TfL to manage suburban rail franchises will mean paying passengers get better, more reliable services, then we need to move past this pettiness and make it happen.

Notes to editors

  • Details of the government’s announcement on rail devolution made in January can be found here.
  • A picture of Chris Grayling’s leaked letter can be found here.
  • National Rail’s Public Performance Measurements can be found here; see second column
  • Len Duvall AM is the London Assembly Member for Greenwich and Lewisham.

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