The Reader: TfL should take over South Western Railway

A South Western Railway train: PA

For far too long, commuters in south-west London have had to put up with woeful performance from South Western Railway (SWR). The service — affecting around 600,000 passenger journeys every day — has been plagued by delays, cancellations and strikes.

Following the latest news that SWR has declared a £137 million loss in the year to March 2019 we believe that the only sustainable solution is for Transport for London (TfL) to take over the metro services in this franchise. TfL already runs a reliable overground service in London with a record that far exceeds most other train operating companies.

It is only political dogma that is standing in the way of this much-needed change taking place.
Siobhan Benita, Liberal Democrat Mayoral candidate

Ed Davey, acting leader of the Liberal Democrats and MP for Kingston and Surbiton

Sarah Olney, MP for Richmond Park

Munira Wilson, MP for Twickenham and Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson

Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member

Cllr Liz Green, Leader of Kingston Council

Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council

Editor's reply

Dear Siobhan et al,

There are two issues here. The first is the awful service on SWR. Some of that is down to management. Much more is the fault of the RMT union and its outrageous month-long strike. I’d recommend reading the brilliant essay about this on the London Reconnections blog to understand why.

A Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union flag (PA)

The second is that London needs better public transport away from the centre, to cut car use. In most places in Zone 3 and beyond it’s easier to drive now, so people do. A coordinated metro service should help that. When I was an adviser at the Department for Transport I tried to work with Transport for London to get there. But just smashing up the current SWR and dumping some services on TfL won’t work — it doesn’t have the cash and has big worries of its own. The £137 million loss you mention is after SWR has paid a big fee to the Treasury. If you yourselves don’t want to pick up the bill you’ll have to persuade the state to take less. Good luck with that one.
Julian Glover, Associate Editor (Comment)

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Lisa Nandy (PA)

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