Rail Services (South London Line)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:13 am on 14th July 2010.

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Photo of Norman Baker Norman Baker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport 11:13 am, 14th July 2010

The hon. Lady makes an important point. I want my response to be exactly right because I do not want to mislead hon. Members, so I will reflect and give the hon. Lady an answer in a moment.

I understand that implementation of the proposed service is likely to cost about £1 million a year, which the Mayor is seeking from the Department. Given our current funding constraints and the likely reductions in available resources in future, an exceptional case would need to be made for any such funding to be implemented.

I note the hon. Lady's concerns about London TravelWatch, which is not the responsibility of the Department for Transport, as she is aware. London TravelWatch is an independent watchdog sponsored and funded by the London assembly, which is part of the Greater London authority. Any comments regarding London TravelWatch, concerns about its involvement in the study, or how it functions should therefore be directed to the GLA and the Mayor as well as to its chair, Sharon Grant, whom the hon. Lady mentioned. The hon. Lady might also want to contact Passenger Focus, because although London TravelWatch is the predominant body in London-Passenger Focus tends to let it have its say and take the lead there-Passenger Focus has responsibility for rail issues nationally so it may be interested in some of her comments.

In response to the hon. Lady's earlier point, TfL made its proposals to the DFT, as I mentioned. We can ask it to look at the matter again, but doing so risks the DFT being forced to fund such a proposal. As I understand it, we have to be careful not to enter into a discussion with TfL that in any way makes us liable for the decisions of the Mayor, but I will ask my right hon. Friend the Minister of State to give the hon. Lady further clarification about that important point when they meet.