OPINION - The Standard view: From strikes to threats of ‘managed decline’, Londoners deserve more from public transport

·3-min read
 (Christian Adams)
(Christian Adams)

After two years of on-and-off lockdowns, remote learning and cancelled exams, students now face yet another hurdle in the way of their education: rail strikes.

The timing could scarcely be worse. The week of industrial action later this month is set to coincide with exam season for thousands of students, many of whom rely on public transport to travel to school. Meanwhile, the list of affected operators continues to rise. Not only national rail services and the Tube but now Croydon trams.

Ordinary Londoners — especially young people — are being caught in the crossfire between warring tribes, from the unions to rail operators and the Government. They must urgently come together and negotiate an agreement that negates the need for these damaging strikes.

Ministers can no longer shirk from their responsibilities. This is particularly the case in the capital, where the consequences of their inability to sit down with TfL chiefs to hammer out the long-term settlement London desperately needs is starting to become clear.

With all the excitement around the opening of the Elizabeth line, TfL continues to live hand to mouth, buffeted by falling passenger fares due to Covid and a government that appears more interested in political point-scoring than protecting London and its public transport network.

The Mayor has today written to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to once again make clear the hugely damaging impact of the absence of a long-term funding deal, without which, Sadiq Khan warns, TfL will be forced to commence work on its “managed decline” scenario, including cuts to a staggering 80 bus routes.

From the short-term disruption of strikes to long-term decline, Londoners are entitled to expect better.

Release captured Brits

War is not only a battle for territory and of arms, but public relations as well. That is why Russia will do all it can to maximise its perceived advantages from having captured two Britons, Aiden Aslin, 28, and Shaun Pinner, 48.

Both men, alongside a Moroccan national, have been accused of being mercenaries by a Russsian-backed court in eastern Ukraine not recognised by the international community, and sentenced to death.

As justified as Ukraine’s right to self-defence and determination is, it is for this reason that the UK Government warned Britons not to travel to Ukraine to fight.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss was right to describe the sentencing as a “sham judgement with absolutely no legitimacy”. The men should be returned to Britain immediately. To that end, the Government must engage every diplomatic effort to support them and secure their release.

Marathon places

Grab your running shoes and register for one of 10 places in the TCS London Marathon 2022 for Standard readers.

Provided by the London Community Foundation, a charity that looks after the Standard’s Dispossessed fund and who give grant support to grassroots groups that help impoverished Londoners, this is an amazing opportunity for anyone looking to raise money for a fantastic cause.

Places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. To apply email: lucy.purvis@londoncf.org.uk

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