southern rail train

Rail woe at heart of tight General Election battle in Carshalton and Wallington

By Dan Alexander
December 9 2019, 22.40

Carshalton and Wallington was one of the most marginal seats in London at the last election – two years later and the race is even tighter.

YouGov’s MRP poll suggested that new Tory candidate Elliot Colburn has closed the gap to Liberal Democrat Tom Brake to a single point as the two main candidates go to battle over the borough’s failing train service.

If elected for a seventh time Mr Brake has pledged to take decisive action to improve rail travel in the area.

“Southern have continued to perform badly and until they know that someone will use their power to throw them out, they will continue to run a sub-standard service,” Mr Brake explained.

“Transport for London should take responsibility for suburban train services between the London boroughs including some of Southern’s services.”

Mr Brake’s pledge to replace Southern immediately may appease dissatisfied commuters but his Conservative rival does not think this would solve the problem.

Mr Colburn said: “I want to see Southern replaced but the problem I have with Tom Brake’s proposal to sack them immediately is that there is nothing to replace them, so it would be the same trains, staff, unions and infrastructure.

“It would be more beneficial to make plans for when their contract runs out in a few years’ time.

“One thing I propose that would be fairly cheap and easily deliverable would be to extend the London Overground service from ending in West Croydon to Sutton.

“The line already exists so it wouldn’t need any new infrastructure, we just need to keep the trains running.”

The Liberal Democrat candidate Mr Brake is also keen to improve accessibility for disabled passengers.

“I’m very pleased that we’ve secured the lift at Carshalton station,” Mr Brake continued.

“Following local interest we secured the funding and that lift opened a few months ago.

“We’re now working to get the same at Carshalton beeches station which is the one station now that isn’t properly accessible so that’s the next phase of the campaign.”

Both candidates are keen to improve bus routes and Mr Brake believes this is an area he has a proven track record on delivering after running a survey that got more than 1,000 responses from constituents.

 Mr Brake explained: “I was very pleased with the response, it gave me some detailed ideas about improvements that TFL could make.

“Many of these proposals have now been taken up by TFL, and some of them are now being investigated such as the extension to Epsom hospital.

“Sutton is one of the boroughs that doesn’t have an underground station, so people are more dependent on bus services than they would in other parts of London.

“That was a very successful campaign, to go to TFL with thousands of responses and suggestions that people had to improve specific routes was very helpful for TFL to get a decent picture of what was needed locally.”

Mr Colburn agrees that improvement is needed on bus services as well as for motorists.

“We want to improve the capacity of our bus routes with more frequent routes and more double-deckers especially on busy routes like the 154 and 407,” Mr Colburn stated.

“But we can’t forget that the overwhelming majority of people in the borough commute by car. I will put pressure on the council.

“The government has doubled the council’s pot-hole fund in recent years, so our roads have to be properly maintained.”

Mr Brake has represented the constituency for 22 years and is not phased by his latest challenger.

“Ever since I was first elected in 1997, Carshalton and Wallington has always been a marginal seat and this election will be no different,” said Mr Brake.

“The largest lead that I had was secured in the 2010 election when I got up to 5,000 which is still a fairly marginal lead, this election will be no different.

“What I’ve got is the track record of 20 years of campaigning for the hospital and many successes under my belt.”

Read more about what’s important to south west London constituencies in our 24-page General Election preview special.

Related Articles