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Only Boris Johnson 'bothered' to call Transport Secretary over commuter trains takeover
DESPITE most London mayoral candidates promising to lobby for control of the capital’s suburban railways if elected, only Boris Johnson has “bothered” to contact the Transport Secretary, according to her department.
Mr Johnson, the Conservative candidate, along with Labour's Ken Livingstone and Brian Paddick from the Lib Dems, say they would like to see train companies such as Southeastern integrated into Transport for London should they win today’s election to be London mayor.
Yet the Department for Transport has revealed to News Shopper that only Mr Johnson has actually called Transport Secretary, Justine Greening, to discuss the proposals.
A source said: "Of course, Justine will work hard for London whoever is mayor, but she’s been amazed that not one of the other main candidates has bothered to pick up the phone to discuss their transport plans with her. How can you get a good deal for Londoners if you’re not talking to all the key decision makers?
“The relationship between the mayor and Transport Secretary matters massively to getting the best deal for London transport.”
Mr Johnson has said London’s suburban railways need a complete overhaul, and if successful the devolution of the Southeastern franchise would happen in 2014, when its contract is up for renewal.
He claims it would save millions of pounds and give passengers more reliable and frequent services, introducing a ‘turn-up-and-go’ system with at least four trains per hour throughout the week.
But Mr Livingstone, his main rival, insists that he initiated these proposals: “The Tories are finally saying they might give Londoners control of their railways - something I’d agreed four years ago with a Labour government.”
A spokesman for Mr Paddick said he had already raised the matter with the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
Mr Paddick has also criticised Mr Johnson saying that he has wasted time on “vanity projects” instead of acting on this before.
He does however support the move, saying: “With so many train franchises approaching the end of their contracts there is now a great opportunity to ensure a better deal for train users.
“At the very least we must ensure that franchises are jointly awarded by the mayor and the Government.”
Meanwhile Jenny Jones, candidate for the Green Party, said: “It makes sense for commuter rail services to come under the remit of Transport for London in order to ensure that transport in and around the capital works well together and by voting Green in Thursday’s Assembly elections London can help ensure that transport is tackled strategically and fares are kept low.”