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Forum topic: Rail services through PG: New timetable brings no improvements to train frequencies

Government rejects London Assembly call for devolution of suburban rail services

Basil Clarke

05 Apr 2023 23:27 #6806

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[Original article]

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Assembly member Joanne McCartney: Great Northern service levels "not acceptable"

Some fourteen months after services on the Great Northern "Metro" services were reduced by around 50 per cent and with no indication that they will ever be restored to fomer levels, a call by London Assembly members to devolve suburban rail services to Transport for London has been rejected by the transport ministry with an assurance that the government is "committed... to ensure suburban rail services are working at their best for passengers, supporting housing, economic growth and the environment".

A motion in favour of TfL taking over the services was supported by Labour, Green and LibDem AMs but opposed by Conservatives. One Tory AM argued that Sadiq Khan's stewardship of TfL has been so poor that no responsible government would consider devolving control of suburban rail while he is mayor.

During the debate the assembly member for Enfield and Haringey, Joanne McCartney, highlighted the reduction in services on the Great Northern lines (though she actually understated it - the previous service was four trains an hour, not three), saying it was "not acceptable" and was causing overcrowding. This follows her previous unsuccessful request to Govia Thameslink Railway to increase services, made in August 2021.

Apart from the addition of a few more peak-hour services, we seem to stuck with two trains an hour for the foreseeable future, and recently press reports have been suggesting that now that the government has taken on responsibility for deciding on train frequencies, it is planning to make more cuts across the national rail network, not to restore services. All this at a time when the climate crisis means that a rapid shift away from private cars towards electric rail services is essential, and in contrast to the recent announcement by the German government of a €49 a month season ticket covering public transport throughout the country.

Keeping suburban services "out of the clutches of a Labour mayor"

This is not the first time that the government has rejected calls to devolve our line and other suburban services to TfL on the grounds that they should not fall under the control of a politician who is a member of the Labour Party. When, in 2016, then mayor Boris Johnson wrote to the transport secretary requesting that suburban services be devolved to him, Chris Grayling (remember him?) rejected the request, writing that "I would like to keep suburban rail services out of the clutches of any future Labour mayor".

I find this line of reasoning both then and now incompatible with the elementary principles of democracy and worthy of Donald Trump. It seems tantamount to saying that "the wrong party won the elections so the results don't count".

To add insult to injury, up until 2020 when the pandemic drastically reduced fares income and temporary government support became essential, Sadiq Khan had to run TfL services without the government subsidy that Boris Johnson enjoyed during his mayoralty but agreed to have taken away (it seems that in 2015 he was already losing interest in being mayor and had bigger fish to fry).

For more about the debate and statements following it, see this report on the Enfield Dispatch website.

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Government rejects London Assembly call for devolution of suburban rail services

Michael Mor

06 Apr 2023 07:08 #6807

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When will working class people wake up to the damage that Tories are doing to this country?

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Government rejects London Assembly call for devolution of suburban rail services

Karl Brown

07 Apr 2023 14:06 #6808

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Michael Mor floats a question. I believe he casts his net too tightly. Here’s a 13 year old government – notionally so of later years – who have taken aim at a colossal spectrum including but certainly not limited to the BBC, North Londoners, the liberal elite (which I think is pretty anyone not in government / government supporting), Guardian / Guardian readers, Saint Gary Lineker, Remainers, anyone not in step with the British public ie the government, nurses, creative industries, schoolteachers, lawyers, care home staff, the Church of England, the devolved governments of our nation, universities, food-bank users, Albanians, Labour councils, doctors, demonstrators in general and climate change activists in particular, Europe (especially the French, and of course the Albanians), Pakistani men, and the list goes on. I would love to have been able to add the water industry.
On railways specifically, the reported underlying tactic appears to be to agree long term (7 year) franchise contracts with operators to bridge the term of the expected next government. This would make renationalisation in some form a costly compensation-paying exercise rather than being compensation-free when a franchise simply expires.
I was taken by a recent report of a colossal rise in bus use / corresponding drop in private car outside London when bus fares were capped / reduced. Who would have thought. Who thinks?

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Suburban rail services in London: the prospects are grim

Basil Clarke

26 Apr 2023 19:51 #6834

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There's a version of the Local Democracy Reporter's report on the London Assembly debate on the Greenwich-based 853 news website with some additional information and comments, which are relevant also to commuters in Enfield.

The additional wording reads:

Westminster currently controls most of the capital’s local services, but many services have faced cutbacks following the pandemic, or will suffer service reductions in the next timetable.

Southeastern Metro is among the services that have been hit by the Department for Transport cuts, with £5 million of services – including a direct link to the Elizabeth Line – scrapped last December.

No such cuts have been implemented on London Overground routes, which are run by TfL rather than Westminster.


The report concludes:

Despite the stance of their colleagues at City Hall and Westminster, Conservatives on Greenwich Council have consistently supported calls for Southeastern Metro to be run by TfL.

Last month Southeastern said that restoring services linking New Eltham and Sidcup with the Elizabeth Line would cost taxpayers £5 million.

May’s timetable change will see a limited service to Charing Cross restored on the Bexleyheath line, but no major alterations to Southeastern Metro. Elsewhere in the capital, Chiltern Railways is cutting lunchtime services through Harrow while Greater Anglia is rerouting rush-hour trains away from Edmonton Green.


As if the present situation wasn't bad enough, on 18th May LBC reported that "A leaked report from Network Rail shows Brits can expect further train delays and cancellations in the next five years".

A pretty bleak outlook for rail travellers then - while the government continues to build new roads, in defiance of its own climate pledges. More enlightened countries are investing in better and cheaper public transport.

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Rail services through PG: New timetable brings no improvements to train frequencies

Basil Clarke

09 May 2023 19:01 #6849

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No great surprise to learn that the new Great Northern Metro timetable that comes into force on 21st May does not provide any increase in services on the Hertford to Moorgate line via Palmers Green. We remain stuck on half the service level that we enjoyed pre-pandemic.

Enfield Dispatch reports that our local representative on the London Assembly, Joanne McCartney (a PG resident), has been asking for more trains but has been rebuffed on the grounds that services have to match the level of demand and are currently running at a loss. But she rightly points out that the conditions are there for a vicious circle:

Joanne said she recognises that demand for services is still lower than it was pre-pandemic, but warned: “Part of this is because the government will not fund extra capacity, but there is a danger of a vicious circle – if people think there is a poor service, they won’t use it.

“Passengers won’t come back if they think they can’t rely on it. This is a growing area and a world class city and we should be doing better than two-trains-per-hour.”


By running down rail services - and not just on our line, but across the country - while continuing the road-building programme, the government is doing exactly the opposite of what is required if the UK is to live up to its promises on greenhouse gas reduction. And condemning future generations to intolerable living conditions as global temperatures continue to rise.

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