We have previously reported on the tangled political blame storm that has enmeshed the London Brighton and South Coast Railway’s South London Line. A “who said what?” row broke out between the Mayor of London and the DfT’s then Rail Minister, Sadiq Khan, during the Summer of 2009. A study group was set up in November 2009 to evaluate options. They were expected to report in the Spring of 2010.
Lindsay Burns writing in South London Press Today reports that campaigners battling the move to axe the South London Line service from Victoria to London Bridge suspect that the decision on the fate of a replacement service has been delayed because of the General Election.
But is just a question of respecting the convention of electoral purdah – whereby politically sensitive announcements are routinely delayed – or something more sinister?
In November, Transport for London (TfL) said it would announce alternative options for the South London Line in March.
However, that has not yet happened, with TfL saying the latest delays were due to timetabling complications.
However, Save the South London Line campaigners claim London Mayor Boris Johnson is holding back bad news until after the General Election.
Campaigner Steven Govier said: “I don’t accept that. They have had so long to look at this.
“I think it’s quite clear that Boris is thinking there’s a possibility of a Conservative government getting in. In that case the South London Line will be gone.”
The line runs between London Bridge and Victoria. It is due to close in 2012 when works at London Bridge mean there will no longer be room for it to terminate there.
Save the South London Line campaigners have been urging people to support a proposed alternative service.
The replacement would run from Victoria and call at most of the outgoing line’s stations, before diverting to Bellingham.But that too was scrapped after TfL lobbied the Government to spend £24million set aside to pay for it on the East London line extension instead.
Thousands of letters and emails have flooded into City Hall urging Mr Johnson to adopt the alternative Bellingham service option. Val Shawcross, a Labour and Co-operative Party candidate for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, said: “There’s huge public concern about this.
“I think Boris has kicked it into the long grass because he doesn’t want anything contentious before the election.
“I think he’s saving up the bad news until afterwards.”
TfL were unavailable to comment at the time of going to press.
As London commuters have been mere grist to the opposing millwheels of TfL and the DfT over the Surrey Canal Road saga and the electrification of the GOBLIN one cannot help but sympathise with their anxiety and frustration. It will be interesting to see if the Mayor mentions the South London Line when doing the honours to re-open the ELL. If not, perhaps the local media might like to nudge his elbow?
Thanks and copyright acknowledement to Cnbrb for the Graphic