Latest Rail News

16.09.16

TfL picks London routes ripe for devolution ahead of DfT approval

Transport for London (TfL) has targeted four groups of suburban rail services across southeast London that would suit its intention to absorb a larger number of devolved routes into its network.

The organisation first announced in January that a new partnership with the DfT meant all rail services that operate mostly or entirely within Greater London could be transferred to TfL when current franchises expire in the coming years.

As well as adding more routes to its devolved portfolio, which includes London Overground and TfL Rail, the organisation would also take the lead on a new London Suburban Metro service.

In papers published ahead of a board meeting on 22 September, TfL revealed that it had already identified routes – currently part of the South West Trains, Southeastern and Govia Thameslink Railway franchises – where such devolution would work, subject to governmental approval. These include:

  • To/from Charing Cross, Cannon Street and Victoria serving southeast London (current franchise ends in June 2018)
  • To/from London Bridge and Victoria serving south central London (current franchise ends in September 2021)
  • To/from Waterloo serving southwest London (current franchise ends in June 2017)
  • To/from Moorgate serving north central London (current franchise ends September 2021)

The services targeted are considered “suitable” for devolution because they would be ‘stopping’ suburban services that terminate inside, or just beyond, the London boundary.

Gareth Powell, director of strategy and contracted services at TfL, added in the board paper: “The suburban rail network in south London provides excellent geographical coverage in many areas but frequencies are low compared to both London Underground and some other suburban routes, journey times are relatively long, services are complex and many trains are heavily crowded at peak times.

“The concept of ‘metronisation’ that we have developed would introduce more consistent stopping patterns, clearer routes, and new interchanges. It would also implement improvements to track, junctions and signalling to increase capacity.

“New rolling stock would have better acceleration and braking to reduce journey times, which combined with wider doors and more active dispatch staff would enable reduced station dwell times and increased train frequencies.”

Next steps

If transport secretary Chris Grayling provides a written agreement in principle signalling his intention to devolve rail services to TfL, the organisation will then begin to engage with the DfT on detailed planning and mobilisation – including kick-starting the procurement of a TfL operating concession.

The process of devolving services has typically taken a minimum of two years. While this does not provide enough time to implement the devolution of services to/from Waterloo, provision for services to transfer “ideally needs to be included within the new DfT franchise that starts in 2017”.

TfL said it has already “thoroughly prepared” the technical ground to enable this devolution process. Typically, this includes establishing a joint project board involving TfL, the DfT and the incumbent operator, supported by a project manager for each organisation and a series of working groups on specific issues.

“Issues would include defining the precise boundaries of the transfer and agreeing the split of resources, staff and liabilities between the new TfL-appointed suburban operator and the DfT longer distance operator,” said Powell.

“In parallel, both we and the DfT would need to undertake procurement exercises for their respective new train operating companies, so that they were in place to take over services from the incumbent when the existing franchise ended.”

Subject to agreement from its board next week, TfL will publish jointly with the DfT a detailed analysis of the findings of its engagement exercise on the proposals, once this is agreed by Grayling and London mayor Sadiq Khan.

Assurances needed

When the idea was first floated in January, TfL and the DfT published a prospectus for devolution seeking the views of external organisations. The document identified three shared “principles for success”: more frequent services, better interchanges and increased capacity; greater reliability for all passengers; and high standards of customer service.

The prospectus received almost 200 written responses, almost 75% of which were positive “in principle” albeit seeking further assurances that governance arrangements will be sound and that fares and frequency will not be negatively affected.

According to Powell, TfL believes these assurances can all be met, with some already covered by the safeguards agreed with Kent County Council. Surrey and Hertfordshire county councils have also made clear they support the proposals.

Financially, it is expected that the process will not incur any additional costs in the DfT’s overall level of premium or support, and any relevant transition costs will be paid for by TfL, as would service enhancements.

(Top image c. mattbuck)

Comments

Andrew Gwilt   16/09/2016 at 04:39

So in fact TfL is to take over most of the suburban rail routes as mentioned and there is possibility of London Overground that could extend to East Croydon, Hayes and Bromley North and to take over the West Ealing-Greenford branch line leaving with other train operators such as c2c to retain their suburban services such as Fenchurch St-Grays via Rainham. I actually do like what Mr Khan and TfL are willing to provide better services as TfL will operate those suburban routes to be called "TfL Rail" once the train operators franchise expires.

James Miller   16/09/2016 at 06:18

I'll look forward to this. But I do think that TfL ought to develop new routes across London. For instance. Finsbury Park to East Croydon via the Canonbury Curve and the East London Line. Watford to East Croydon via the West London Line. Gospel Oak to Acton via the Dudding Hill Line. Stratford to Chingford. There are probably others, where a service could bring the development that London needs.

Andrew Gwilt   16/09/2016 at 11:00

TfL & London Overground could extend the ELL to East Croydon, Cattenham Corner and Caterham and from West Croydon to Epsom Downs and Epsom.

John Grant   16/09/2016 at 12:57

"services that terminate inside, or just beyond, the London boundary" -- Moorgate services terminate at Welwyn Garden, Hertford North, and Letchworth. London extending its boundaries again? (Though I suppose they're no further out then "London Stansted Airport" and "London Luton Airport".)

Andrew Gwilt   16/09/2016 at 14:19

Crossrail 2 is planned to be extended northeast to Hertford East and as far as London Stansted Airport as it will provide a new NE-SW Cross Link network via Central London and to take over some of the suburban routes in Southwest London and some parts of South London and extended north to New Southgate and possibly as far as Potters Bar.

Andrew Gwilt   16/09/2016 at 14:22

Plus Crossrail (Elizabeth Line) could also be extended to Dartford, Rochester and Hoo Junction in the near future.

Kev   16/09/2016 at 14:41

The Overground service is operated from watford junction thats 18 miles out, so in theory if the overground was to operate all suburban services on a 20 mile radius out of london, it might make more sense instead of them cherrypicking all of the profitable routes from the TOCS..TOC costs will be reduced with rolling stock reductions etc

Jak Jaye   16/09/2016 at 15:24

All the above is dependent on GTR winning their dispute with the unions of course,which explains the governments reluctance to end it

Andrew Gwilt   16/09/2016 at 16:31

Not to mention the Metropolitan Line extension to Watford Junction.

Moderator   16/09/2016 at 18:09

For goodness sake, Andrew, you don't need to list every rail proposal within London each time. Most of those won't be implemented in the near future, and I'm sure people can look them up by themselves. Please limit yourself to one comment per article.

Andrew Gwilt   16/09/2016 at 21:33

@Moderator. Sorry are you the moderator of this website or is it just your name. To be fair I dont usually comment as much on here thank you very much.

Richard   16/09/2016 at 22:04

Why not go further and cover the 'real London' from Southend, Chelmsford Medway to Reading and Three Bridges to Hitchen/Royston and Luton. That would make far more sense; have an integrated organised city with all its suburbs included. That's 16million people that would work much more efficiently organised under one body. You could go further on areas close by to the urban area covering Milton Keynes, Brighton and south coast etc but that maybe going too far for TFL.

Richard   16/09/2016 at 22:12

Why not go further and cover the 'real London' from Southend, Chelmsford Medway to Reading and Three Bridges to Hitchen/Royston and Luton. That would make far more sense; have an integrated organised city with all its suburbs included. That's 16million people that would work much more efficiently organised under one body. You could go further on areas close by to the urban area covering Milton Keynes, Brighton and south coast etc but that maybe going too far for TFL.

Andrew Gwilt   17/09/2016 at 00:31

Not sure about that Richard but it could be a possibility.

Mark   17/09/2016 at 09:19

Why not re-name TFL NETWORK SOUTH EAST? Would like to see Chiltern take Greenford/W Ealing & alter to High Wycombe far end, instead of using east curve to W Ealing use west curve and terminate Southall or Hayes? better links. More like the old 1933 London Transport area...

Mark   17/09/2016 at 09:19

Why not re-name TFL NETWORK SOUTH EAST? Would like to see Chiltern take Greenford/W Ealing & alter to High Wycombe far end, instead of using east curve to W Ealing use west curve and terminate Southall or Hayes? better links. More like the old 1933 London Transport area...

Andrew Gwilt   17/09/2016 at 11:40

I don't think it won't happen Mark but I'm sure that TfL could take over the London Paddington-West Ruislip route as well the West Ealing-Greenford route.

Nonsuchmike   18/09/2016 at 18:41

What about an open access operator taking some lines that have been mooted, so providing some competition to the existing TOCs? Maybe another Not-for-profit TOC which would be marvellous for increasing capacity throughout the day as well as at peak morning/evening/weekend times. If it/they also allow inter-usage of ticketing between companies, can you imagine the relief on the the brows of millions of commuters and regular travellers? Just a thought.

Manchester Mike   19/09/2016 at 16:03

I agree with the Moderator. Regurgitating information doesn't add anything to the discussion Andrew.

Andrew Gwilt   20/09/2016 at 00:34

Then I have to disagree. End of.

Timmy Tonbridge   23/09/2016 at 17:03

What I would to see is a new Circle Line that runs above the M25 and interconnects with outlying stations.

Lutz   27/09/2016 at 23:00

How would these proposed changes be implemented? Would there be protection for services retained by the incumbent where a future TfL shares access to paths? How would perturbation be handled on the SWML, for example, where lines are sometimes reduced to a single pair of tracks when there are two operators? It did not work well with one operator. What about funding for all of these enhancements? The overground work was relatively cheap, but there are simple fixes on the routes TfL is proposing to take over; will all the funding come from the Greater London Community Taxes?

NXG   30/11/2016 at 09:37

Plus Crossrail (Elizabeth Line) could also be extended to Dartford, Rochester and Hoo Junction in the near future. Why not include an interchange at Ebbsfleet International, this could also run High(er) speed services into London Bridge and connect HS1 to Crossrail...At present the only way to get to Ebbsfleet is from Stratford or Kings Cross.

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