Together with the leader of Lambeth Council, Lib Peck, Chuka has written urgently to Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport, seeking clarification about plans to transfer control of Southern Rail services to Transport for London.
Chuka and Lambeth Council, backed by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, have been campaigning hard for Transport for London (TfL) to take over the running of suburban rail services in the capital, and welcomed the Department for Transport’s commitment to doing so earlier in the year.
It is important that the new Government and transport secretary, who appear less committed to this outcome, are not allowed to backtrack.
Chuka has called for Southern Rail to be stripped of its franchise, and control handed over to TfL immediately. This follows the provision, by Southern Rail, of one of the worst performing services in the country, which has been failing Streatham residents for many years, and which is currently at crisis point.
Chuka and Lib Peck’s joint letter is below.
Dear Secretary of State,
We write to urge you to continue to support the devolution of suburban rail services to TfL.
The current service is failing passengers. Trains into London from Streatham and large parts of South London, particularly those operated by Southern, are repeatedly late or cancelled. Instead of attempting to blame staff, Southern should take responsibility for a service that ranks at the bottom of both punctuality and passenger satisfaction league tables.
The takeover of the old North London Railway by TfL ten years ago led to a transformation in service standards. Journey numbers have risen 450%, stations are cleaner and better lit, more trains are arriving on time and passenger satisfaction has soared.
In January this year we welcomed the announcement that Transport for London (TfL) were to take over the running of suburban rail in the capital.
Lambeth’s Back on Track campaign in Streatham had set this as its number one transport priority for the area in consultation with residents.
Streatham has missed out on several transport initiatives in recent years, has no underground station and by the standard of other inner London locations, has poor public transport connectivity.
We are therefore extremely concerned by reports that the Government is re-considering plans for TfL to take over the lines operated by Southern, South Eastern and South West trains.
We strongly support Sadiq Khan’s calls for the South West and South Eastern franchises to be transferred to TfL once they expire and for the Southern franchise to be handed over to TfL management immediately to stabilise the situation.
We hope you will confirm that the Government has no plans to backtrack on its promise to deliver rail devolution.
Cllr Lib Peck Chuka Umunna MP
Leader of Lambeth Council Member of Parliament for Streatham