The war of words between TfL and the DfT over who is actually responsible for withdrawing the South London Line service without funding the proposed Victoria-Bellingham partial replacement escalates slightly, as full-time Twitterer and part time Minister Sadiq Khan fires in a broadside [PDF] at City Hall.  This is in response to a Boris-led effort to shove responsibility onto the DfT by way of a Mayoral Answer:

In his written reply to Ms Shawcross, Mr Johnson wrote: “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.”

The Minister begs to differ:

It is important to point out that this comment is misleading and factually inaccurate.

That’s actually pretty hardcore – Khan is accusing Boris of lying in a Mayoral Answer, although stopping short of claiming it was deliberate.

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.  DfT is thus funding – at TfL’s request – more that [sic] two thirds of the cost of the East London Line Phase 2.

‘In your place, boy’ I think is the message here – the clear subtext is that Boris can’t play fast and loose with the PR here, on one hand claiming the good stuff is all his hard work while the bad stuff is down to the DfT when he was actually using the extra powers he’s just been given.  Let’s refresh ourselves with how he announced the original ELLX again:

“This is tremendous news. We can finally get cracking on a vital section of track that will orbitise our Overground rail services. I promised Londoners that where funds were made available we would build the improvements they need. And it will be a real achievement when our Overground services are fully oysterised. I am delighted that a long hard slog of negotiations between ourselves and the Department of Transport has borne fruit that will result in a superb new service for thousands of Londoners.”


Khan concludes:

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.

Subtext: ‘play nice or you won’t see a penny’.

What’s hilarious about all this is that Boris apparently wants to have *more* control over the London rail network, when at the same time he’s trying to deny responsibility for decisions taken under those very extra powers he’s just been given.  This must be that ‘cohesive’ transport strategy Kulveer was talking about in Manchester this week.

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