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Are Grayling and Khan Playing Games with Watford's Transport Links?

September 2, 2017 9:04 AM
Originally published by Nick Hollinghurst - Working for Tring, Working for Britain, Working for You!
Sadiq Khan

Sadiq Khan

The creation of a suburban Metro, the devolution of London's suburban rail services from the Department for Transport (DfT) to Transport for London (TfL) and strong support for Crossrail 2 are key elements in the Mayor of London's, Sadiq Khan's, draft transport strategy. Sadiq Khan and his team had worked extensively on his plans during 2016. Unfortunately, and for no good reason I can think of, the Conservative Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, withdrew DfT involvement, which has slowed the process down.

It has been suggested in Rail Technology Magazine (June/July 2017) that Chris Grayling is "trying to keep the capital's suburban rail services away from the hands of Labour".

Khan expressed his frustration at the time and since, saying that "devolution of responsibility was the only proven way of improving services for passengers." The public seem to agree. In a recent YouGov poll 58% of Londoners supported Khan's decentralisation ideas.

In the summer Khan raised the subject again, claiming that the success of London Overground was an example of what TfL could achieve, given the right powers. He added that, "even greater benefits" would result if franchise specification was also devolved. He explained, "With devolution, TfL's role would be restricted to selected passenger services within the London area, or slightly beyond, where the geography of the rail network requires it."

Chris Grayling

Chris Grayling

This clearly includes the Metropolitan Line Extension between Watford Junction and Moor Park via Croxley, with a new station serving both Watford General Hospital and the football ground.

Hertford County, Watford Borough and Three Rivers District councils are all anxious that this project proceeds. They are worried that Sadiq Khan has not yet indicated his support for this extension nor yet confirmed his willingness to adopt the project and so allow construction to start.

It would be a great pity and a great loss to the people of Hertfordshire if this important addition to our local transport system is cancelled as the result of a political squabble between Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, and Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London.