Sadiq Khan rejects transport minister’s ‘fundamentally flawed’ approach to suburban railways
14:23 13 January 2017
Mr Khan had wanted TfL to run suburban services currently operated by Southeastern
London mayor Sadiq Khan has rejected Transport Secretary Chris Grayling’s “fundamentally flawed” approach to suburban rail services in the capital.
He declined the minister’s invitation for a Transport for London (TfL) employee to work with the Department for Transport on the Southeastern franchising process.
Mr Khan wanted TfL to run suburban services currently operated by Southeastern when its franchise agreement ends in 2018.
But in December Mr Grayling announced he would not devolve responsibility for the routes to the mayor.
Mr Khan 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. It is a repeatedly tried and failed approach.
“I am therefore left with no choice but to walk away from the government’s fundamentally flawed plans.”
Mr Khan believes separate contracts on suburban routes and long distance services are needed to improve reliability.
The mayor said Mr Grayling’s proposals for Southeastern are little different to what TfL has been asked to do before, and insisted that TfL’s use of contracts that include incentives based on performance ensure passenger needs come first.
He added: “Londoners, councils, MPs and Assembly Members know the huge benefits that TfL can deliver.
“It’s not too late for the Transport Secretary to change his mind and deliver proper devolution for the good of long-suffering commuters inside and outside of London.”
Mr Grayling was accused of putting politics ahead of passengers over devolution last month after a leaked letter showed he opposed the policy as he wanted to keep the network “out of the clutches” of a Labour mayor.
The Evening Standard published the letter written in 2013 by Mr Grayling to then-mayor Boris Johnson.
Mr Grayling was justice secretary at the time and was writing in his capacity as MP for Epsom and Ewell.
Explaining his decision in December not to devolve control of the lines run by Southeastern, Mr Grayling said TfL’s business plan did not offer extra capacity and was simply based on “a belief” that TfL could run the system more effectively.