London

London Mayor urges takeover of 'failing' Southern rail

Protestors at Victoria Station
Image caption Commuters held a protest at Victoria Station in July after months of disruptions

The Mayor of London has repeated his offer to put Transport for London (TfL) in charge of "failing" Southern rail.

Passengers have suffered months of disruptions amid staff shortages and strike action by conductors.

TfL would be able to "get a grip" on the situation, Sadiq Khan told the government. His previous offer of a temporary takeover was rejected.

Operator Govia Thameslink Railway said its focus was on resolving issues, "not arguments about political control".

Political control 'arguments'

In a letter to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, Mr Khan said TfL had the expertise of running public transport services.

He also criticised the government's refusal to reconsider who should run the franchise.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mayor Sadiq Khan says TfL can "get a grip" on the Southern service

TfL can deliver a better service than Southern Rail by "immediately assigning an experienced team to fix the service", he wrote.

Mr Khan said immediate action was needed adding, "passengers should not have to suffer any longer the appalling level of service they are currently forced to endure".

A spokesperson for Govia Thameslink Railway said: "Our focus is on resolving the immediate issues to restore the service that passengers rightly expect, not arguments about political control."

Apologising to passengers, the operator added: "We are committed to a long-term franchise, reporting to the Department for Transport."

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: "This week's strike affecting Southern services has needlessly inconvenienced the travelling public and it is right that the action was suspended for talks to resume.

"It's important now to leave the union and the train operator to try and reach an agreement as quickly as possible."

'Cannot guarantee safety'

Southern staff with the Rail, Maritime and Transport union went on strike for three days this week in a dispute over the role of conductors.

The union have been in talks with management at the conciliation service Acas. The talks have been adjourned for the day and will resume on Monday morning, an Acas spokesperson said.

Southern added 89 trains to Thursday's timetable after the RMT union suspended a five-day conductors' strike on Tuesday and agreed to new negotiations.

The service will not return to the pre-strike timetable until the weekend but trains will now run to Falmer station for fans travelling to Brighton and Hove Albion's game against Nottingham Forest in the EFL Championship.

The club said earlier the the strike could cost it as much as £300,000 in lost ticket sales.

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