London Councils call for more affordable rail services


The proposed London and South East Rail Partnership should place more emphasis on both affordability and safety and security, local authorities in London have said.

London Councils, which represents the capital’s boroughs, has broadly welcomed proposals for devolution to Transport for London (TfL) of rail services within the city but has called for its members to have a greater say.

The cross-London body has submitted its response to the prospectus jointly issued by the Department for Transport (DfT) and London mayor Boris Johnson in January.

Waterloo station serves London, Surrey and beyond

The prospectus suggested that the new partnership should have three key principles for success: more frequent services, better interchanges and increased capacity; greater reliability; and high standards of customer service.

But London Councils argued that these should be expanded to include value for money for passengers, including affordability of fares, and safety and security.

Its response said: ‘It will also be important to ensure that fares are competitive to avoid significant numbers of passengers shifting to other modes, which is likely to result in congestion.'

The proposed partnership should seek ‘to ensure that rail travel in London is affordable to those that live and work in the capital’.

While welcoming plans for the partnership, London councils said: ‘We consider the proposals for the Strategic Board outlined at the recent local authority forum, which would see this partnership simply established between DfT and TfL, fall short of what is required.’

The lobby group argued that they needed a stronger voice ‘when decisions are being taken that affect costs that they meet for concessionary travel’.

London Councils pointed out that the capital's boroughs are already funding the costs of Freedom Pass concessionary fares outside of London and warned that this could increase with new TfL-run services such as Crossrail to Reading.

The response also said that safeguards on fast services within franchises ‘should work both ways, with Londoners relying on local stopping services offered a guarantee that these will not experience adverse impacts as a result of any improvements to fast/direct services agreed by the DfT’.

In a separate response, Mike Goodman, Surrey County Council’s cabinet member for environment and planning said plans for TfL to take over rail routes in the county offer the chance to improve services for passengers and businesses ‘currently being let down’.

Mr Goodman said: ‘Clear and transparent governance arrangements are crucial. We expect a strong, formal role in overseeing those lines that serve the county. This will help to ensure that the voice of those passengers outside the capital is more clearly heard. It is important that timetables and stopping patterns reflect the needs of all communities along the line, balancing, equally, the needs of communities in London and Surrey.’

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