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

A number of factors must be taken into account, including, first, the devolved powers for the Mayor and TfL, which most Londoners would probably support-we are trying to devolve powers away from central Government; secondly, the legal restraints and legislation made in respect of the Mayor and TfL; and thirdly, the consequences for other rail operators. There is a complicated matrix to consider and I do not want to give a misleading answer today, so I will draw the hon. Lady's concerns and comments directly to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Minister of State to ensure that she gets a proper, full answer when they meet.

The East London line will bring significant benefits to the part of south London that we are talking about, providing four trains an hour regularly between Clapham Junction and Dalston seven days a week and providing connections to key interchanges to other parts of the London transport network, such as at Canada Water, for example.

On the Northern line, and crowding issues at Clapham North station, the hon. Lady will know that London Underground is planning an upgrade of the Northern line to be implemented in 2012, which will increase frequency on the southern end of the route from the current 28 trains per hour to 32. The additional capacity will help to relieve crowding issues on that section of the network. There are concerns about the spending review and funding arrangements, but we hope that the Mayor will be able to deliver the upgrade on the Northern line, as previously announced.

Members have mentioned Clapham Junction station and its use as an interchange station for London Overground services. It must be remembered that in Network Rail's plans to 2014, suburban trains through Clapham Junction to both Waterloo and Victoria will be lengthened to 10-car services. Works are also already under way to improve the interchange facilities at Clapham Junction by providing new lifts, and plans are in place to improve access to the station, for example, by providing a new entrance.

Although the changes to train services in south London are largely driven by the need to accommodate train service changes at London Bridge, the proposed Victoria to Bellingham service would have mitigated a number of the impacts of those changes. The changes to train services at Wandsworth Road and Clapham High Street and the severing of the link to London Victoria were made at the request of the Mayor of London, under the arrangements that cover rail services in London.

We will, of course, reflect on the comments made by hon. Members during this debate and consider the issues that have been raised.