Suburban London rail decision welcome- but why so long for Thameslink?

Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden Andrew Dismore AM has welcomed the Government decision to transfer control of suburban rail lines to TfL as part of the Overground network, but questions why it will take until 2021 for Thameslink to be moved over.

Mr Dismore said:

‘It is outrageous that hard pressed commuters who use the Thameslink service will have to wait 6 years before the line is taken over by TfL. Thameslink is the most unpopular railway line in the whole country.

‘I have been calling for such action for a number of years now, as the service has gone from bad to worse. A survey of residents I conducted last year showed overwhelming support for the plan. At last year’s election, Labour advocated the transfer too.

‘There was a golden opportunity to move Thameslink to TfL last year, when the franchise came up for renewal, but the franchise was awarded to Govia- TfL was not even allowed to bid.

‘The Conservative MP for Hendon, who chaired the all-party Parliamentary Thameslink group, went out of his way to oppose the transfer, and even argued that the service would improve under Govia, compared to FCC who then lost the franchise. But almost unbelievably the service has got even worse.

‘If the Conservatives had listened to us then, Thameslink commuters would not have to wait so long for the improvements that we know TfL will deliver, as they have before.

‘There must be a strong case to cancel the franchise due to such poor performance and I urge the Government to look again at how long this is all going to take- and I also call on the local Conservatives to apologise for opposing the transfer and presiding over a service which has become utterly unacceptable on their watch.’