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GTR – What now? Short-term changes?

Given the release today of the Commons Transport Committee Report on what went wrong in May 2018; and the predictable ‘not my fault’ push-back from Chris Grayling, what should happen now, in the short term.  This is especially relevant as he also indicated that the GTR management contract would not be ended until September 2021, which is its current end date. However, it should be noted that as the rail review is progressing, he might choose to extend the term – he is allowed to do so by up to 26-months so in theory GTR could go on until November 2023.

I haven’t changed my mind from the previous two blogs about an eventual elected regional transport authority.  However, in the short-term what needs to change?  I have two-thoughts:

My first thought is an extension to Oyster.  We have already had announcements that Oyster will be extended north to Hertford North and south to Epsom in January 2019.  Now it appears that Luton Airport Parkway and Welwyn Garden City will follow later in 2019; probably May or September.  But I believe the DfT should go further in an effort to try and improve conditions for GTR passengers.  I know DfT don’t see it as their job to improve things for passengers, especially as the SofS has been clear that he doesn’t run the railways!

However, what could be added to the recent ‘Oysterisation’ announcements?  Well, in my opinion Oyster should immediately be further extended to Luton (town station), Stevenage, Leatherhead, Reigate, Three Bridges, Crawley, Dorking and Hurst Green.  I have limited these suggestions to stations and services controlled by GTR. BUT – in addition to all these extensions a structured zonal fares system to be introduced within 12-months by bringing the current ‘ghost-oyster-zones’ to life.  They are currently:

Station Name

Ghost Zone
Broxbourne 11
Chafford Hundred 10
Earlswood (Surrey) 13
Gatwick Airport 14
Grays 10
Hertford East 11
Horley 13
Merstham 13
Ockendon 10
Purfleet 10
Redhill 13
Rye House 11
Salfords (Surrey) 13
Shenfield 12
St Margarets (Herts) 11
Ware 11
Watfird Junction 10

It has already been indicated that Elizabeth line stations out to Reading will be treated like this with Reading for example in ‘ghost-zone’ 15.

My next thought is that GN Metro services from Moorgate to Welwyn Garden City and Stevenage via Hertford North be immediately transferred to TfL as part of London Overground.  I know a lot of local MPs are I favour of this. But further than this, I would suggest a similar transfer of the currently Southern operated service from Milton Keynes to East Croydon be similarly transferred to LO when suitable dual-voltage rolling stock becomes available.  I am thinking of the highly efficient 350/2s being released by LNWR in late 2019/early 2020 – these units were built for dual-voltage operations but are currently only used for AC (overhead wire) services.  Fitting the DC (third-rail) shoes, etc., would be relatively cheap and very quick.  Also, a duty placed on NR to identify a viable path both north and south of the Thames to allow this service to run twice an hour.

Well this is just a quick two thoughts!  I’d be interested in hearing what you have to think – so please don’t hesitate to leave a comment here or tweet it to @DirectorSERG