London Mayor Sadiq Khan has told London Assembly members he is “optimistic and excited” that a Boris Johnson premiership will see rapid progress on devolving control of London suburban rail services to City Hall.
Wider City Hall takeover would ensure all rail users would enjoy the “high standard of service seen on London Overground and TfL Rail – increased frequency, fully staffed stations, fewer delays and accessibility improvements”, he said.
“Boris Johnson as Mayor was a passionate advocate of devolution,” he said. “It beggars belief that he would change his mind.” It was Johnson as Mayor who had agreed devolution plans with government, before they were shelved under transport secretary Chris Grayling, he added,
Responding to questions from Joanne McCartney, Assembly Member for Enfield & Haringey, Khan confirmed that Transport for London (TfL) continue to work with the Department for Transport on taking over Great Northern Line services into Moorgate, part of the Govia Thamelink franchise which is to end in September 2021.
Devolution of the line to TfL was recommended in the independent Gibb report on the Govia Thameslink franchise as a whole in 2017. “Initial discussion has been positive,” Khan said, but added that there had been frustration at the slow pace of talks, prompting further TfL representations to Whitehall: “There has been some progress, but now we need to accelerate the process. We don’t want to lose another window of opportunity.”
Khan also confirmed “positive and productive” discussions with Keith Williams, the former British airways boss who is currently leading a “root and branch” government review of the rail industry and passenger services. TfL submitted detailed evidence to the review earlier this year, and Williams has already concluded that “the current franchising model has had its day”.
Watch a webcast of the entire Mayor’s Question time here.
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