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London mayor calls for government to devolve rail infrastructure powers and funding to TfL

London mayor Sadiq Khan has called for the government to transfer control of rail infrastructure management to TfL and manage its devolved suburban services.

Khan said the move would pave the way for a metro-style service in south and southeast London.

The plan would see responsibility and funding for rail infrastructure transferred to TfL from Network Rail so it can fix what Khan called a lack of coordination between infrastructure providers and rail operators.

It would also allow TfL to prioritise investment into key rail assets including stations, track and signalling, and “ensure a fully joined-up and integrated rail network.”

The London mayor said a third of people in south and southeast London with a nearby rail station do not have a frequent train service, and reiterated his belief that the current rail franchise system is “broken beyond repair.”

He said that large dysfunctional franchises were not suited to the high-volume high-frequency suburban metro London needs, and criticised overcomplicated ticket payment systems and poor transport links limiting housing development and economic growth.

Heidi Alexander, the deputy mayor for transport, said: “the case for greater devolution of our rail services has never been more urgent or more clear.”

“The time has come for the whole of London to have an integrated, frequent and reliable rail service fit for a global capital city with a high-quality suburban metro which would also stimulate economic growth, new jobs and homes.

“Transferring responsibility for key rail assets to TfL would be the first step towards a long-overdue transformation of the transport network in south and southeast London.”

This comes as TfL publishes its strategic case for ‘metroisation’, outlining a plan to transform existing rail lines into frequent reliable services for commuters.

Keith Prince, the Conservative transport spokesperson in the London Assembly, said that devolution of powers to TfL could deliver change, but said Khan “has proven to be financially incompetent when it comes to TfL.”

Image credit - Kirsty O'Connor


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