Last week Transport for London announced it would be bidding to run trains in parts of Southeastern’s current area including Dartford, Greenhithe, Swanscombe and Stone.
This is not a new idea and is something I am open to. However, the Mayor of London is not accountable to the people of Dartford and so before I could support this proposal I would need a number of assurances from TfL to protect local commuters.
I have asked TfL to assure our commuters there wouldn’t be any fare rises for us above other areas or cuts to services and stops. I also want to see the Oyster Card introduced at all of the stations affected.
I am a commuter myself travelling to London regularly and I am therefore fully aware of the failings of Southeastern. We shouldn’t though be prepared to give TfL a blank cheque. We are not part of London and never should be. The next time the Mayor of London is looking to increase fares or cut services, I don’t want us to be the easy target as we don’t vote in London Mayoral elections. This is why we need these assurances.
This news comes just days after it was confirmed that commuters will be able to claim compensation if a train is delayed by 15 minutes rather than the current 30-minute timescale.
The extension of the Delay Repay scheme, which will start on the troubled Southern train network before being rolled out to companies across the country, means operators will be more accountable to their passengers.
Here in Dartford we want a reliable, affordable service and I think another provider could bring some potential benefits. However, we need to take a good close look at what they are offering to ensure we get the best deal for commuters.