A new body should be formed to give commuters more of a say over which companies run their rail services, the leader of Brighton and Hove City Council has said.
Cllr Warren Morgan said the new group, which he calls ‘Rail South’ should hold service providers and the government to account, ensuring the region’s infrastructure and operators are fit for the needs of commuters and businesses.
He said: “It’s time for action on the failing Southern services, and time for passengers and businesses to have a locally accountable and democratically elected voice in how those services are designed and run.
“It is time for the Department for Transport to end the current ‘concession’ arrangement with Govia Thameslink Rail (GTR), and work with passengers, business and councils on awarding a new franchise that gives us the rail services we desperately need.
“I have written to the leaders of East and West Sussex County Councils this week to ask for their partnership in taking this idea forward.”
He said the new body would work in partnership with Department of Transport to manage the Southern rail franchise, in a similar way to Rail North. It would have a statutory role in the awarding of franchises and scrutiny of service standards, and work under the umbrella of the emerging Transport for the South East sub-national transport body, equivalent to Transport for London.
It would be a cohesive and proactive body, applying local, economic and geographical knowledge to the re-franchising process, and advance plans for future devolution of rail services, planning and infrastructure investment.
Jonathan Sharrock, chief executive of Coast to Capital LEP (local enterprise partnership), has supported the proposal, saying Rail North is a good template.
He said: “Stronger local involvement in the specification and delivery of franchises is essential if we are to rebuild confidence in Southern and also to get more leverage over the investment decisions on the Brighton Main Line that government needs to take in the next 12 months.”
For an article written by Cllr Morgan on his plans, click here.