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Suburban Rail Services: London

Volume 697: debated on Thursday 24 June 2021

Transport for London submitted a strategic outline business case for the devolution of these services in late 2019, and the Department considered the potential benefits and risks associated with the proposal to be finely balanced. We were doing further work with TfL when the pandemic struck. I have to admit that not much work has been going on since that time.

I thank the Minister for that answer. He knows that I am firmly of the view that the transfer of Southeastern services to TfL is the best long-term means of guaranteeing passengers in my constituency the fast, frequent and high-quality metro-style rail services that they desire. As we emerge from the coronavirus crisis, what plans does his Department have to pick up and take forward the conversations that took place with TfL about the matter early last year? Will he meet me in due course to discuss the future of the Southeastern franchise in more detail?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question, and I know his passion in this area. As I say, since the pandemic struck, the Department has had to be very much focused on keeping services running while developing our passenger-focused reform. As the Secretary of State just said, Great British Railways will be organised around regional divisions so that decisions are made closer to the places that the railways serve. The White Paper also includes a commitment for strategic partnership with TfL and other local authorities to ensure that the rail sector is working best for passengers in London. I would be delighted to meet him to discuss these matters further.