Dartford must not “jump from frying pan into the fire” says MP over Transport for London rail takeover
PUBLISHED: 12:29 25 January 2016 | UPDATED: 12:14 26 January 2016
He branded Southeastern rail as “poor”
Southeastern could lose control of Dartford’s railways with Transport for London potentially taking over under new proposals.
The Department for Transport announced plans last week to improve services in London and the surrounding areas, which would see the transfer of rail services in and around Greater London to Transport for London.
The transfer would be due when the current rail franchises are up for renewal, in this case, Southeastern could lose its rail franchise in 2018.
But Dartford’s MP Gareth Johnson is concerned over the idea, claiming the London rail group will not be able to represent Kent residents.
He said: “I opposed TfL taking over the Dartford route when it was proposed before because they gave no assurance that fares would not go up in Dartford more than elsewhere, nor did they guarantee services from Dartford would not be cut.
“Until we get that guarantee I will continue to resist TfL, which is totally unaccountable to the people of Dartford. Some people seem to think that TfL should be able to just take over Dartford’s trains without assurances but I disagree.
“I know as a commuter myself how poor Southeastern can be so I am not opposed to another company getting the local franchise but we have to make sure we don’t jump from the frying pan into the fire.
“What Dartford commuters need are assurances of improved services and value for money and that is what I will continue to look for in a train provider.”
A Southeastern spokesman said: “The specification and letting of rail contracts is a matter for government. We are focused on working with Network Rail – who are responsible for infrastructure such as the track and signalling - to deliver an improved service for passengers.
“Under our current contract with the Department for Transport, we will be investing more than £70m in better services, including refurbishing trains and stations, more employees at our stations and better quality information.
“We will now work closely with the Department for Transport and Transport for London as they develop these proposals further.”