Joanne highlights golden opportunity for rail devolution

London Assembly Member, Joanne McCartney AM, has renewed her calls for Great Northern train services to be handed over to Transport for London (TfL). This comes in the wake of a speech delivered by the Prime Minister on Friday (13th September) which revealed the Government’s proposals for the regional devolution of rail services in the North of England.

The Government’s plans, which Ms McCartney would like to see replicated in the capital, would lead to the funding and commissioning for Northern and TransPennine Express services being handed to a body similar to TfL.

TfL already operate a number of devolved services as part of the London Overground line, but Ms McCartney has been campaigning for several years for further devolution, particularly for the Great Northern services to be brought under TfL control. She has written to previous Transport Secretaries calling for this.

In her latest letter, the first to the new Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps MP, she has urged him to reconsider the Government’s current position on handing control of privately-run commuter belt and metro services to TfL.

Last month, the Mayor of London used his first meeting with the new Transport Secretary to press him to take action on this issue.

Earlier this month, a motion was passed at a London Assembly Plenary meeting, calling for devolution of regional rail services, including the Great Northern line which runs from Moorgate through Ms McCartney’s constituency of Enfield and Haringey. In response to Ms McCartney’s question to the Mayor in July, she was told that TfL were working up a bid for the line when the current franchise expires in 2021.

A 2017 independent report by Chris Gibb, a non-executive director of Network Rail, also backed proposals that TfL takes over the Great Northern Metro lines.

London Assembly Member, Joanne McCartney AM, said:

“Despite the clear demand for further rail devolution to take place in the capital, the Government have, up until this point, stubbornly refused to budge on this issue.

“The continuous delays and disruptions to services running in and out of the capital, overseen by private rail companies, have left Londoners understandably fed up, intensifying the demand for a wholesale change in how commuter lines are operated.

“This is particularly true of the Great Northern line which runs from Moorgate and through my constituency of Enfield and Haringey as numerous services have been diverted or cancelled in recent months, despite the introduction of new trains.

“With rail devolution being granted to the North of England, and a new Transport Secretary in place, who is seemingly more receptive than his predecessor, this is a golden opportunity for more suburban and metro rail services to be handed over to the capable hands of TfL”.