DfT slams Mayor over Victoria-Bellingham line cancellation

We're indebted to peerless transport blog, London Reconnections, for highlighting a letter from the Department for Transport to Mayor Boris, criticising the statements made about the cancellation of the Victoria to Bellingham service and blaming TfL for the decision.

This buck passing is strikingly similar to the problems campaigners against the Southern timetable changes have had in pinning down who is responsible for the problem. A cynic might suggest that Boris is trying to prove his and the Tories' cost-cutting credentials ahead of the next election, while being reluctant to take responsibility for the implications of those reductions and that the breakdown of relations between the two bodies had at least something to do with party politics.

Here's the letter:

I am writing with regard to the East London Line Phase 2 extension to Clapham Junction and TfL's decision to withdraw the proposed Victoria Bellingham service.Comments have been attributed to you stating that this was a matter solely for Ministers at the Department for Transport, and it has been reported that you will not meet local representatives about these proposed changes.

I also understand from a press report that in a letter to Val Shawcross you stated:'It is important to point out that this decision was the DfT's alone, and therefore it would be more productive to meet with them in order to lobby them' (South London Press - 21/09/09). It is important to point out that this comment is misleading and factually inaccurate.

DfT had originally proposed to implement the Victoria to Bellingham service (in place of Victoria to London Bridge) from late 2012 when major works start at London Bridge. This would have maintained current service levels to London Victoria from Peckham Rye, Denmark Hill, Clapham High Street and Wandsworth Road stations. It was TfL that requested the Victoria to Bellingham service was not implemented, with the £24m saved from that service being diverted to TfL to help fund the East London Line Phase 2 to Clapham Junction. TfL has the power to make requests for such changes to national rail services in London as a result of the Mayor of London's Rail Powers consulted on by the Department in March 2006 and published in December 2008.

The £24m contribution is in addition to DfT agreeing to fund a £19m addition to Network Rail's Regulated Asset Base and a further £20m increase to TfL's grant to fund this and other transport projects in London. OfT is thus funding - at TfL's request - more than two thirds of the cost of the East London Line Phase 2.

Ministers agreed to TfL's request, recognising the benefits that the East London Line will bring to this area of South East London, on the basis that stakeholders would be consulted and kept well-informed of any changes. It is unfortunate that your reported statement has misrepresented the position to stakeholders regarding the background to these proposed changes, especially at a time when you are also seeking a further £7m of funding (which you initially rejected) for an additional station at Surrey Canal Road.

The Secretary of State will write to you separately in, relation to Surrey Canal Road. I am copying this letter to Martin Linton MP, Tessa Jowell MP, Harriet Harman MP, Joan Ruddock MP and Val Shawcross AM.



Best Home Mortgage Rates said...

I don't understand this cancellation because this would have ultimately benefited common people. In my view Mayor shouldn't have canceled this transportation service

Lou Baker said...

No doubt that BoJo has been more than a little economical with the truth on this one.

But please don't accept the duplicitous words of Mr Khan either. He is minister of state for transport and it is his department that is responsible for our forthcoming reduction in mainline train services. If he really gave a damn about commuters in south London he'd go and knock on his boss' door to reverse Labour's cuts rather than having a pop at the mayor who has next to no power over national rail services.

Matt-Z said...

The Mayor's Transport Strategy is now out. At over 350 pages long it's a heavy tome. However there's no mention at all in it of the SLL withdrawal or Victoria-Bellingham. For our neck of the woods it trumpets the ELL extension as all Boris's work and has far from detailed, long-term aspirations for DLR to Catford and Bakerloo to Hayes via Lewisham (both post 2020). Worth a read, if only to despair at the lack of bold projects and ideas, and the amount of waffle and vagueness.

Crofton Park Ranger said...

Sounds like Boris is saying 'Complain to the DfT as they are the ones who approved it'.

The DfT's response is 'Well you asked for it Boris'...

Meanwhile even though I am 1 minute walk from Crofton Park station, I walk to Honor Oak Park to get in to town.

Waste of what could be a busy line that would take pressure off of the london bridge services...

Off topic does anyone know when we will be able to use oyster cards on the trains?

Matt-Z said...

Oyster PAYG on national rail now "by end of 2010" according to the strategy. It keeps getting put back.
All TfL fares are going up too, Boris is in full swing at this very minute announcing fare rises, postponments of improvements, service cut backs and general cost-savings all round..

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