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
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.
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)
At last, the circus wild-animal ban in circuses begins
In a fitting start to the new decade, England’s long-awaited legislation to ban wild-animal circuses comes into force this week. This follows years of protests, ad campaigns and pressure from animal protection groups, the public and celebrities — including the 94 per cent of people who responded to the government consultation on the issue by demanding a complete and permanent ban.
Most of us understand that animals shouldn’t be caged, chained, beaten into submission and deprived of all that’s natural and important to them for the sake of human amusement. Animal circuses around the world are on the decline and we’re rejoicing.
Elisa Allen, Director, PETA Foundation
Banks, be alert to economic abuse is a serious issue
As a retired police officer and an authority on stalking I was pleased to read Ayesha Hazarika’s column [“Domestic abuse isn’t just physical — financial control can trap women long after the bruises have faded,” January 15] in which she highlights the devastating effect economic abuse can have. Domestic abuse is not just about physical violence but also acts to maximise control.
Victims deserve better support and it is imperative banks understand the psychological damage this behaviour can cause.
Hamish Brown MBE
Nandy has proven herself a leader
Lisa Nandy's robust denunciation of Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to condemn Russia after the attempted poisonings in Salisbury [“Lisa Nandy: Jeremy Corbyn got it ‘totally wrong’ over Salisbury poisonings” January 15] is spot-on and marks her out as a future party and national leader. It is consistent with her earlier resignation from the shadow Cabinet in 2016, dismayed by Corbyn’s general mismanagement and the malign influence of the “hard Left”.
This contrasts greatly with other Labour leadership candidates who, despite Corbyn’s manifest failings, continued to serve him and indeed advocate for him to be the next PM.
This election is a chance for the Labour Party to send Corbynism, and all its works, packing. Both Lisa Nandy and Jess Phillips are intelligent, passionate and determined politicians who will take the fight to PM Johnson. They are also authentic: like Johnson and Farage, love or leave those two, you know what you are getting; that’s what we need from Labour too.
Simon Diggins, Labour Party Candidate 2015