Would devolving rail franchises, when they come up for renewal, to Transport for London (TfL) improve our rail services? With all the recent talk of renationalising rail services, is regionalisation the future for London? How can the Mayor and TfL persuade the Government of the case for reform? The London Assembly Transport Committee began its Rail Devolution investigation in June 2015. The report ‘Devolving rail services to London: Towards a South London Metro’ released today details its findings. When the devolution proposition was put to our own survey of London rail passengers, we found that a majority were in favour: 68 per cent of respondents were in favour of devolution to TfL, with 26 per cent preferring their existing operator. Support for TfL was particularly high among users of the South London services that the Mayor has prioritised for devolution.
In our survey, we asked passengers what their top priorities were for improvements on the rail service they use. They were most concerned with price and performance:
Reduce the cost of tickets (53 per cent of respondents)
Since 2004, passengers have seen their average ticket prices increase by 62 per cent on London and South East rail services, or 16 per cent in real terms (taking inflation into account).
Reduce delays and cancellations (43 per cent)
Trains have become less reliable in recent years, with one in six trains arriving at least five minutes late.
Increase the capacity of trains (30 per cent)
The number of passengers arriving in London above the capacity of train services in the morning peak is now almost 22,000.
Schedule more frequent trains (30 per cent)
A number of rail users in London often have to wait on platforms for several trains to go by, before there is sufficient space for them to board.
Valerie Shawcross CBE AM, Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee said;
“There is a growing consensus that rail devolution to London is a good idea, including among passengers both inside and outside of London. Our report makes recommendations for the future of the South Eastern and the South Western franchises. We also make suggestions for passenger engagement, infrastructure planning and financial risks.
Another thing we found was that the nightmares at London Bridge station might have been avoided, had a strong partnership existed between Network Rail and TfL. We hope TfL learns from our report and uses our recommendations to make its bids for the upcoming London franchises a success.”