In her first major speech as London’s new Deputy Mayor for Transport, Heidi Alexander this week demanded urgent talks with the Government to bring substantial parts of the ailing Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) franchise under the control of Transport for London.
Heidi’s comments come as the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has today written to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling demanding talks get underway about transferring many of the franchise’s key London routes to TfL as soon as 2020.
Under a proposed restructure of the GTR franchise, responsibility for the London services currently run by Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) would come under TfL control in 2020, the earliest opportunity if GTR has its franchise stripped early.
These would include the Great Northern Services running out of Moorgate to Enfield, Stevenage and Welwyn Garden City, as well as suburban services out of Victoria and London Bridge to places such as Croydon and Sutton.
Long-suffering rail users have endured five chaotic weeks since Govia Thameslink Railway introduced new timetables in May – with no end in sight. Last week 14 per cent of peak trains were cancelled and another 39 per cent were running late passing London Bridge. GTR faces being stripped of its franchises unless performances on its services rapidly improve.
Meanwhile the success of London Overground and the continued reliability of TfL Rail provide an overwhelming business case to support the Mayor’s devolution plans which would also lead to simpler fares for passengers.
Sadiq has offered the immediate help of TfL officials to assist in making the failing franchise work better now, noting that cooperation is needed across government and party lines to ensure GTR customers enjoy a more reliable and frequent service.