Great Northern Line devolution talks “like pulling teeth”

The Commissioner of Transport for London, Mike Brown, has expressed his frustration over the lack of progress with the devolution of Great Northern Line services to TfL. In response to a question on the issue by local London Assembly Member, Joanne McCartney AM, during today’s London Assembly Transport Plenary meeting, Mr Brown remarked that it was like “pulling teeth to get a proper discussion” with the Government on the matter.

Over the past few years Ms McCartney has been lobbying the Government for services on the line, currently operated by Govia Thameslink, to be handed to TfL to form part of the London Overground. Her calls were repeated last year after the significant disruption and chaos caused to local commuters by timetable changes.

Ms McCartney has previously written on a number of occasions to the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, making the case for devolution.

During today’s meeting, Mr Brown provided reassurances that he will raise the matter again in a meeting with the Department for Transport this week.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, also added that he raises the topic of rail devolution every time he meets with the Secretary of State, as he has previously committed to work with TfL on handing over this line.

An independent report by Chris Gibb, a non-executive director of Network Rail, in 2017 recommended that TfL takes over the Great Northern Metro lines which run out of Moorgate, through Enfield and Haringey.

Local London Assembly Member for Enfield and Haringey, Joanne McCartney AM, said:

“It was frustrating to hear from the Commissioner that the Government is not playing ball on handing the line to the more capable hands of TfL.

“The Government’s inertia on this is failing local commuters who rely on this vital link into central London and have been continuously let down by Govia’s shambolic management of the line.

“It really should not be like “pulling teeth” to get the Department for Transport round the table to discuss the devolution of Great Northern Line services in detail.

“I will write again to the Secretary of State asking him to live up to previous promises and work with TfL to deliver this. Londoners deserve better and handing the line to TfL will ensure investment and improvements for the benefit of all passengers”.

  • Joanne’s question can be watched here;
  • The London Assembly Transport Plenary meeting can be watched back here;