The shutdown of Southeastern Trains last month was "bizarre" and may have been an attempt to fiddle performance statistics, the head of TfL alleged today.
Transport for London Commisioner Peter Hendy told the TfL board that the restrictions were "unnecessary," "odd" and "not replicated elsewhere."
"The Mayor wrote to the Secretary of State about Southeastern Trains who alone amongst the Train Operating Companies decided not to operate either early in the morning or late at night... and actually prevented a lot of people from SE London from getting in to work which we thought was unnecessary and not replicated elsewhere on the Southern system..."It significantly curtailed people's ability to work during normal hours. In fact I think the first train from Bexleyheath to London for the first full week in January was half past eight in the morning which is pretty odd especially when established railway practice, when you have got third rail operation in cold weather, is to run your trains all night. So it seems a bit bizarre to actually turf people off them and run without them all night."
Asked what he thought Southeastern's "motivation" may have been, Hendy replied:
"Well I would like to think it was an aberration but I would also not like to think that it might be due to the fact that if you operate a very restricted timetable and it's implemented in the way the franchises are measured, then operating a very high percentage of a very restricted timetable gives you a very good performance result."
Southeastern have repeatedly laid the blame for their performance on the extreme weather conditions despite all other London lines operating a much better service.
However, if they really did restrict their service, in order to massage performance figures, then they have a very serious case to answer.
The only question is whether anyone will now hold them to account?