Lambeth’s leader slams Transport Secretary over rail crisis

7 December, 2016

Written by: Michael Stringer

Brixton area > Campaigns > Clapham area > News > Norwood area > Streatham area > Transport

The Leader of Lambeth Council, Cllr Lib Peck, has written to the Secretary of State for Transport expressing shock and outrage at the Government’s broken promise on fixing the suburban rail crisis.

Councillors outside Streatham Rail Station

Chris Grayling MP yesterday disappointed millions of commuters by dismissing plans to hand over failing rail franchises, like Southern, to TfL to run.

The plan had been backed by councils and MPs of all parties as well as the Mayor of London.  In a recent survey by Lambeth council in Streatham, the rail handover to TfL was chosen as the number one transport priority for residents.

Disgraceful

In the letter, Cllr Peck said: “The current crisis in suburban rail in the capital is blighting the lives of millions of commuters.  Many are fearful for their jobs or are considering moving home, due to the shambolic and disgraceful service provided by the current rail operators, particularly Southern.  It is costing London’s economy millions of pounds in lost working hours and unreliability.

“Your inaction on this issue is deeply troubling, as millions of people look to the Secretary of State to intervene on an issue of such severity.”

In a letter to the previous London Mayor, Boris Johnson, Mr Grayling stated that he wanted to “keep suburban rail services out of the clutches of any future Labour mayor”.

Cllr Peck added: “This is an issue that is far more important than party politics, and your previously stated aspiration to “keep suburban rail services out of the clutches of any future Labour mayor”, seriously undermines your position as Secretary of State.”

Before urging the Secretary of State to reconsider.

Campaign

Lambeth have campaigned for Southern to be stripped of their rail franchise and for TfL to take over, for well over a year and recently passed a motion at a Full Council meeting asserting that the government “should strip GoviaThameslink of the Southern Rail franchise and hand control of these services to Transport for London as soon as possible”.

After the previous Secretary of State for Transport and the previous London Mayor agreed to the move, many residents were relieved and believed that an end to the current crisis was in sight.

Yesterday, Mr Grayling said that the government would not now support the move.

Lambeth have also repeatedly questioned Southern regarding their service, and the current dispute with the RMT Union, which is badly affecting many thousands of residents.

The full text of Cllr Peck’s letter to Mr Grayling:

Dear Secretary of State

I am writing to express my shock and disappointment following your announcement yesterday that the Government is reneging on its pledge to allow Transport for London to take over the running of London’s suburban rail services.

The current crisis in suburban rail in the capital is blighting the lives of millions of commuters.  Many are fearful for their jobs or are considering moving home, due to the shambolic and disgraceful service provided by the current rail operators, particularly Southern.  It is costing London’s economy millions of pounds in lost working hours and unreliability.

Your inaction on this issue is deeply troubling, as millions of people look to the Secretary of State to intervene on an issue of such severity.  A ready-made plan, via an organisation with a proven track record, with cross-party political support and huge public backing is available to tackle the crisis in suburban rail – and you appear to have dismissed it purely due to your political ideology.  This is an issue that is far more important than party politics, and your previously stated aspiration to “keep suburban rail services out of the clutches of any future Labour mayor”, seriously undermines your position as Secretary of State.

I am urging you in the strongest possible terms to reconsider.

I also ask that you outline exactly what action you are planning to take to alleviate the current crisis in London’s suburban rail services.  As the Secretary of State for Transport, please demonstrate that the Government not only recognises the failure of the current franchisees, but also has a clear set of proposals to improve the situation for the millions of people who rely on rail services every day.

I would appreciate it if you could take the time to come to Lambeth and meet with me to discuss this issue that is blighting the lives this borough’s residents.

Please do not ignore this crisis any longer.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes

Councillor Lib Peck

Leader of Lambeth Council

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