I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and with the pandemic still with us I hope everyone stayed safe.
Unfortunately, the New Year also brought one of the largest rail fare price rises in over a decade. I have listened for the past few years to this Government talk about ‘Levelling Up’ with a focus on disadvantaged areas of the country.
In principle this makes sense; in practice it has become a cynical political ploy focused on Conservative target seats. For our area and much of London and the South East, there is an active policy of ‘Levelling Down’. London’s transport users have been hit by one piece of bad news after another with cancelled projects, slashed investment and increased fares.
The pandemic has played havoc with the finances of all public transport providers. However, the Government has treated Transport for London very differently to privately owned regional rail franchises that have been provided with long-term financial support packages. TfL has been funded in short-term allocations, with the Government using each allocation of funds as a way of extracting political concessions. The repeated demands for fare rises, and ever more cost cutting is damaging London’s transport system and unfairly punishing Londoners.
The pandemic slashed passenger numbers across the rail network and a temporary reduction in rail services was a necessary reaction. The Government is using the reduced passenger numbers as cover to make permanent cuts to train services across the South of England. Busy London stations, such as St Margarets, will see a 50% reduction in services for large parts of the day.
In the Budget the Chancellor announced a £7billion transport fund available for cities to bid for. Unfortunately, London is explicitly excluded from the fund.
The levelling down of London’s Transport System must stop. TfL has been starved of cash and is facing bankruptcy. London is the economic engine of the UK, and downgrading its transport network will do economic harm to the whole country.
I am running a petition on my website, calling on the government to stop the levelling down of our city. If you believe in a fair deal for London transport please sign the petition and send a message that our trains, buses and tubes are vital to living in this city.
Munira Wilson, MP
call 020 8977 0606 for her constituency office; or 020 7219 6474 for her parliamentary office