Stop virtue signalling with renamed Overground train lines and fix the basics first, writes Susan Hall

15 February 2024, 23:43

Basic issues need to be resolved before extras like renaming train lines, writes Susan Hall.
Basic issues need to be resolved before extras like renaming train lines, writes Susan Hall. Picture: Alamy
Susan Hall

By Susan Hall

  • Susan Hall is the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London

This week, Londoners heard from whistleblowers within Transport for London (TfL) that the Central line was “an accident waiting to happen”.

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With a chronic shortage of trains, the critical commuter line has been running at barely half capacity.

Yet within hours, Londoners watched flabbergasted as the Mayor of London dipped into his £21 billion pound budget and acted.

What could it be? We wondered.

Could he be about to invest to get the Central line working? Could he be about to proclaim that, finally, he would open his fat wallet and put his money on the frontline? But no. 

Instead, we got more bluster and excuses, followed by a spending announcement to rename the Overground.

Over six million quid will be splashed out on renaming Overground train lines.

Money for upgrading CCTV cameras? On your bike.

Cash to make essential repairs to Central line trains? No, thank you, said the mayor.

But now you can stand and wait for your train that isn’t coming on an inclusively named train line.

Let’s call this what it is - virtue signalling.

Yes, it could be seen as a ‘nice thing to do’, but is renaming train lines when there's a tidal wave of sexual assaults on the TfL network, alongside many of the trains not running on time and not being fit for purpose, really the key focus for investment?

Call me old-fashioned, but I think you get the basics sorted before you slap on the extras. 

This is a poorly-timed election stunt, just the latest from our resident all-glitz and no-substance showman Sadiq Khan.

Look – everyone knows stunts are part of electioneering.

But you don’t do them with Londoners’ cash.

And you certainly don’t do them when that money could have been spent on the fundamental issues affecting our transport network.

When the Central line is “an accident waiting to happen”, the deliberate choice of the mayor to paint over the cracks and applaud himself for some renamed train lines is nothing short of a slap in the face to already fed-up commuters.


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