New polling commissioned by the Mayor of London has revealed that passengers across London and the wider commuter belt are turning against the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, over the ongoing chaos on commuter rail lines into London. Just 14 per cent of London’s commuters now back him over this decision to keep London commuter lines in control of the train operating companies.
This follows the news last week that in the last period Govia Thameslink, which runs Southern and other London commuter services, had the worst performance of any rail operator in more than a decade. According to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, “passengers have been left frustrated by Grayling’s decision to break the Government’s promise to hand over control of inner-London commuter services to TfL”.
The Mayor argues that TfL would provide a better service, with fewer delays and frozen fares. Certainly TfL Rail’s performance is better than all but one of the UK’s train operating companies – only C2C beats it. When it took over the former Silverlink serive now known as London Overground it made it significantly better, and subsequent improvements to stations, rolling stock and track (the line is now a full orbital taking in Clapham Junction and Stratford) have made it even better.
So it is likely that commuter services would be improved by TfL management. It would be good if a way could be found for such an improvement not to stop at the M25.
The polling, conducted by Yougov for the Greater London Authority shows that 52 per cent of commuters across London believe that Chris Grayling took the wrong decision and should have given TfL control over the struggling commuter lines.
In general 58 per cent think TfL should have more control of commuter rail lines, with only 5 per cent saying they should have less control.
The new figures come as a cross-party group of MPs wrote to the Prime Minister urging her to review Chris Grayling’s decision. The letter was signed by Conservative MPs Tania Mathias and Bob Neill, Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake and eleven Labour MPs.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Commuters deserve to be able to get to work and back on a reliable train service”. Khan argues that not giving TfL control is a political decision to keep suburban rail outside the control of a Labour London Mayor. “This is much more important than party politics – it is about people’s jobs, time with their family and quality of life.” No suffering Southern Rail passenger is likely to disagree.