Intergrated Transport (Supplementary) [5]

Session date: 
February 26, 2003
Question By: 
John Biggs
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


It's obviously in the nature of oppositions to oppose but I'm left wondering whether the Conservatives would be happier if Crossrail wasn't built because it would allow them to attack you for perceived under-performance. So, the Labour position on this is that we desperately want to see Crossrail built and we want to see the East London Line built and we think that there is an opportunity in the delay on Thameslink to engineer it - and I think this is what you're saying - so that it better suits the interests of Londoners. We want to work with you to secure those outputs.

Just in case you walk away thinking I'm now your greatest friend, there is an area where we think you could do better which is about working with the National Rail system in London more widely. My colleague, Samantha Heath, will come back on aspects of the East London Line and Thameslink. The question is whether you've really done enough in your Transport Strategy and with your transport budget to promote the heavy rail system, particularly in south London. There's been a lot of focus on the Tube and on the buses; in south London you've got a little pilot on the South London Metro and could have done a lot more to integrate stations, to improve interchanges, to get a turn up and go service on a wider range of stations in south London. Have you done enough on the National Rail system in London and, given our great support for you in other areas, what can we do to encourage you to do more in that area?

Supplementary To: 


Answer for Intergrated Transport (Supplementary) [5]

Answer for Intergrated Transport (Supplementary) [5]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

I do think many people will draw parallels at the next Mayoral election between whether or not we've been able to deliver Crossrail and whether Steve Norris was able to deliver it when he was Transport Minister, a parallel I'm quite happy to see drawn.

On the question of the Train Operating Companies, you have the same briefing that I did after the election which was that we were told by the SRA that all these contracts were out to be bid for, the whole system was going to be renewed, it will all be upgraded to a metro-style service, and then of course the rail system collapsed because of the botched privatisation.

We are not in a position where there are companies around the world all rushing here to bid for these rail franchises. I do think that the system we have now put in place - given that the SRA leadership changed in the middle of all this, we've got the agreement of the SRA and a good working relationship and there's no point just being at loggerheads and shouting at them all the time - and we've now put in place this first pilot. It's going to cost £8 million. If it works we will then be faced with how rapidly we can roll it out. My view is that, even though it will cost about £50 million throughout south London, south Londoners have a right to expect that this is going to be done so that the quality of their life is upgraded there and I would be coming forward with proposals for that. I suspect it would probably take two or three years to roll the system out because we're talking about more trains, longer trains, quite a lot of infrastructure works. I think it would be completely unreasonable, given the £1 billion subsidy a year that's going to be poured into the Underground, that we aren't prepared to put in at least the £50 million a year for the quality of life of people in south London dependent on this train service.

On the Thameslink 2000, you're absolutely right. The original scheme really was about whisking things through London. The scheme that Bob Kiley's team is working on is much more focused on addressing the needs of Londoners.