Government Delivery of Mayoral Policies (Supplementary) [7]

Session date: 
June 20, 2012
Question By: 
Richard Tracey
Organisation: 
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
Boris Johnson (Chair, TfL) and Sir Peter Hendy (Commissioner, TfL)

Question

Thank you. That is some very useful information for us to use in our ongoing lobbying to stop the minority bringing London to a halt.

The second thing, Mr Mayor, and it has already been touched on, is your aspiration to have more control over the London regional rail network. Given that we understand that there are people particularly in Kent who are worried about how their fast trains would be stopping at more stations, can I suggest that it would be useful if TfL were to put out a model timetable --

Answer

Answer for Government Delivery of Mayoral Policies (Supplementary) [7]

Answer for Government Delivery of Mayoral Policies (Supplementary) [7]

Answered By: 
Boris Johnson (Chair, TfL) and Sir Peter Hendy (Commissioner, TfL)

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): You have mentioned this before.

Richard Tracey (AM): I have indeed and I in fact mentioned it at the Transport Committee, too. But it does seem that there needs to be something tangible to prove to Kent communities that they would not be held up by endless stops on the way into London.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I think the difficulty and the answer is the one I gave before, which is that it is not yet possible to set the timetables out. But generally what we will be doing is using surplus capacity rather than interfering with the non-stopping service or with the fast services. That will be greatly to the benefit not just of the people in London but the people outside London as well. As you can see from what has happened, the Overground goes up to Watford already. It has been of great benefit to people in that area. We can do the same for Sevenoaks.

Peter Hendy (Commissioner, Transport for London): The other thing I would say perhaps to add to that is that we do not need to act on this in theory because, if those people are worried, look at the Southern franchise, which is not controlled by us but does have the improvements that we have always sought within it and is currently operational. People can see that actually the result of having fully-staffed stations throughout the hours of operation, better off-peak services and services more in line with the opening and closing times of the Tube has no detriment whatever to people travelling in from outside the Greater London boundary. Brighton and the Haywards Heath people are getting the same service they always did. What matters is that people at Streatham and Thornton Heath get sufficiently good service to make it worth their while to go into the stations. We can demonstrate that because it has actually been done.

We will never be able to compile a timetable for what the Southeastern would look like other than in conceptual terms because of course, in practical terms, we have the freight operators and we have the other people to contend with, which we do not know. But what we are arguing is that people in Bexley and Bromley and the suburban stations within Greater London and the Southeastern and the Greater Anglia franchise deserve the sorts of levels of service that can be achieved as we have shown on the Overground and on the Southern without detriment to longer distance passengers.

Richard Tracey (AM): Yes, but we have been in receipt of emails and letters from people in Sevenoaks, Tunbridge and so on who are worried about the extra stops. I know that your excellent strategic rail planners do have a case that could be set out to inform those people that they are not going to suffer.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Yes. As you imagine, there is a work of persuasion now underway and we are talking to MPs across all parties. We are trying to get the case across.

Richard Tracey (AM): Good. The last thing I wanted to ask you about - and indeed it was yesterday I think you stirred things up with our former revered colleague, Sir Alan Haselhurst [Member of Parliament, Saffron Walden] - was your talk about Stansted, Mr Mayor. Can you clarify where your position is on Stansted in the great debate about the extension of air capacity in London?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): As I have said so many times, I think the issue is really one of capacity. We have to make sure we have enough capacity. Heathrow plainly is not going to be the solution in the short-term or the long-term. We need to think more creatively. I am not necessarily wedded, as I have said, to some archipelago in the Thames Estuary. There could be plenty of other solutions, including Stansted where you could have high-speed rail link, you could extend Crossrail and you could have a very, very good short, medium and long-term solution. Indeed, I bet that would be deliverable faster than a third runway at Heathrow.

Richard Tracey (AM): I am no expert on air travel, but it does seem to me that some movement out to the east of London is absolutely essential. We cannot take any more to the west of London. My constituents cannot, Tony Arbour's constituents cannot and so on. But movement out to the east does seem to make a lot of sense.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Absolutely. It makes sense to me. It is a case I have argued for a long time. I think the economic benefits are massive. It has to be done. We cannot see our country or our city losing jobs and losing growth potential to other European competitors. Now is the time. I think the Government has this call for evidence that is about to get going. I think they need to launch it and we need to see some product by the autumn.

Richard Tracey (AM): Speedily, please. Thank you.