In her first major speech, Heidi Alexander has demanded talks over the transfer of parts of the struggling Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) franchise to provide a more reliable service under Transport for London (TfL) control.
The new deputy mayor for transport's proposal would see responsibility for the London services run by Southern and Great Northern come under TfL control as soon as 2020.
The takeover would include the Great Northern Services running out of Moorgate to Enfield, Stevenage and Welwyn Garden City, as well as suburban services out of Victoria and London Bridge to places such as Croydon and Sutton.
‘Transport for London’s record of running successful rail services in the capital shows that giving it control of GTR’s beleaguered routes out of Moorgate is a no-brainer,’ Ms Alexander argued.
Her comments follow the controversial revelation that transport secretary Chris Grayling blocked devolution of parts of the SouthEastern franchise to prevent suburban routes falling into ‘the clutches of a Labour mayor’, according to a leaked letter to the then mayor, Boris Johnson.
The current Labour mayor, Sadiq Khan, has now written to Mr Grayling demanding urgent talks on transferring key London routes from GTR to TfL.
Ms Alexander added that TfL is ‘ready to take over West London Line services between Clapham Junction and Willesden Junction, but our ambition doesn’t stop there – metro services across Southern, South Western and SouthEastern should be our goal’.
According to recent reports, GTR faces having its franchise stripped if it does not improve its services.
The mayor’s office pointed out that last week 14% of peak trains were cancelled and 39% were running late passing London Bridge following the company’s chaotic introduction of new timetables in May, contrasting this with the ‘success’ of TfL’s London Overground, which it said has proved to be more reliable and punctual than private train operators.
Mr Khan also offered the immediate help of TfL officials ‘to make the failing franchise work better now’, arguing that cooperation is needed across government and party lines to give GTR customers a more reliable and frequent service.
In her speech Ms Alexander also encouraged commuters to walk or cycle more and pledged an improved experience for cyclists, saying she would ‘supercharge‘ the delivery of new cycle routes and protected cycle lanes into more parts of London.
She also stated her support for a direct vision standard for HGVs to ensure that truck drivers are able to see everything around them.