Anger over blocked rail devolution plans

December 9th, 2016

Londonwide Assembly Member Tom Copley AM has joined calls for the Government to reconsider handing over the reins for rail services on suburban routes to the Mayor of London. Tom Copley also expressed outrage at a leaked letter, in which Chris Grayling MP told former Mayor, Boris Johnson, that he wanted to keep rail services “out of the clutches” of a Labour Mayor. Tom Copley said the Minister’s “political point scoring” had side-lined the needs of passengers.

Earlier this month – the now Transport Secretary – Chris Grayling rejected Sadiq Khan’s proposals for Transport for London to take control of suburban rail services in London and the South East.

The Secretary of State’s decision comes despite his predecessor, Patrick McLoughlin, proposing in January that TfL could take control of suburban rail franchises, describing it as a move that would put passengers “at the heart of the rail network”.

Anger was raised further when a leaked letter sent from Chris Grayling to the then London Mayor Boris Johnson in 2013, suggested the Transport Secretary’s decision may have been politically motivated. In his letter, Chris Grayling wrote “I would like to keep suburban rail services out of the clutches of any future Labour mayor”.

Suburban rail devolution in London has cross party support in Parliament, across London councils, and on the London Assembly. It has happened in some areas already. The North London Line was taken under TfL’s control in 2007 and rebranded as London Overground. Last year, TfL rail replaced some West Anglia services running to and from the capital. The most recent public performance measurements from Network Rail show TfL Rail in 1st place and London Overground in 2nd.

Labour Londonwide Assembly Member Tom Copley AM said:

“Rail franchises must work for passengers, not just train operators.

“It’s the greatest shame for passengers that the Minister’s political point scoring has side-lined the needs of passengers.

“The fact remains that where TfL have managed services, we’ve seen some of the best performances. If allowing TfL to manage suburban rail franchises will mean paying passengers get better, more reliable services, then we need to move past this pettiness and make it happen.”



  • Details of the government’s announcement on rail devolution made in January can be found here.
  • A picture of Chris Grayling’s leaked letter can be found here.
  • National Rail’s Public Performance Measurements can be found here; see second column
  • Tom Copley AM is a Londonwide Assembly Member

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