Seeing out the old – goodbye London, it’s been fun
Well, it’s been fun, but after over 120 years of being part of the world’s greatest city, it looks like South East London will start 2010 seceding from the rest of the capital. A bit like the Principality of Sealand, perhaps, with marginally better transport links.
Who says? Well, ask the mayor…
“Always remember that London is the greatest place, and never forget that we are offering free transport from your party from 11.45pm to 4.30am. Public transport in London is the perfect conclusion to a wonderful New Year’s Eve party, being, as it is, the cleanest, greenest, and safest way to get around our fantastic city.”
Except… it isn’t free for us. Boris has canned free travel on London’s mainline trains, reportedly saving the mayor £100,000. So that New Year message can’t be aimed at us. Boris has clearly washed his hands of us. The border signs will go up at the Elephant & Castle at midnight.
“National Rail services will be operating but passengers will have to pay to travel on them, although the cost of a day return ticket to London will be only marginally above the cost of an outward-only single. This is contrary to previous years when TfL has subsidised them and travel was free.
“Given the wider economic situation, TfL is committed to finding £5 billion in savings by 2017, and this is just one of the measures which will help achieve that aim.”
Which is slightly different from the jolly New Year message above. Still, I wonder if Boris will have the gall to project himself onto the side of a building like he did last year?
So, as the Independent City of South-East London – let’s call it Greater Charlton for now – gets set to break free from the Boris yoke, let’s just get confirmation that the trains won’t be free.
On Southeastern’s website…
And at Waterloo East station…
So it’s… hold on, what did that say at Waterloo East again? “Courtesy of Transport for London, Southeastern will run FREE after-midnight train services.” Huh? And Southeastern haven’t got a fat felt tip and crossed that bit out?
And let’s go to the Evening Standard’s excellent deputy political editor, Paul Waugh…
Which figures, of course, because ticket inspectors after 11pm on Southeastern on any night, let alone a busy one, are as rare as rocking horse shit. Some might say that Boris witholding money to make up for fares that the mainline rail firms had no intention of collecting anyway is wise economics. It certainly looks as if Southeastern were expecting him to pony up the cash as usual when they went to the printers.
But with these government-backed private monpolies holding the whip hand in Boris’s past negotiations with them – see the crap deal he’s given us with Oyster, with south London families paying more than west London’s for children’s fares – it doesn’t set an encouraging precedent for the provision of all-night mainline trains for New Year’s Eve 2010, something which is only a recent phenonemon.
So it’s all a big muddle, which seems like business as usual after all. So maybe we’ll have to put those indpendence plans on hold. Looks like we’re lumbered with the rest of London for a couple more years yet…
Thanks to Southeastern-watcher Bexcentric for the Waterloo East spot.