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TfL targeting Southeastern metro services for takeover

Kent County Council has set out a series of non-negotiable ‘red lines’ for discussions of Transport for London (TfL) taking over some of the county’s rail services.

The council discussed a proposal from TfL last week to transfer the south-east London Metro train services from Southeastern to London Overground.

If the takeover were to happen, TfL’s Oyster card could be used on lines in Gravesend and Sevenoaks. It is proposed to go through in June 2018, when Southeastern’s franchise is up for renewal.

TfL believes the lines currently aren’t adequately used and that it could accommodate more frequent services.

However, the plan needs the backing of the local authorities. Cllr Matthew Balfour, Kent County Council cabinet member for environment and transport, said there were potential benefits for the county’s rail users, but laid out a series of key deal-breakers.

“We are absolutely clear that we will not accept any reduction in service levels as a result of Metro services being transferred from Southeastern to Transport for London,” he said.

“We have also stated that there must be no detrimental effect on Kent’s rail fares following transfer of Metro services to Transport for London, and this would need to be guaranteed as part of the Metro transfer agreement between the Department for Transport, Transport for London and the new franchisee.

“This would also be one of our ‘red lines’ that we have stated from the start is non-negotiable.

“While discussions are in the early stages, it is clear that there could be real benefits for Kent’s rail passengers through extension of TfL’s Oyster card and/or smartcard ticketing to Gravesend and Sevenoaks.

“Special arrangements would also need to be agreed in respect of availability of Oyster card on Metro services at each of these stations.”

London mayor Boris Johnson previously suggested the idea of devolving control of some of the Southeastern network to TfL in 2012.

A paper outlining his “rail vision” was published which said that TfL should target the “inner-suburban services from Dartford, Sevenoaks and Hayes, and the West Anglia inner-suburban services from Enfield Town, Hertford East and Chingford” as the highest priorities for devolution.

Those proposals for Kent were rejected in 2013, though the proposals for the West Anglia services came to fruition on 31 May 2015, when TfL took over services that were previously part of the Greater Anglia franchise. 

Geoff Hobbs, head of transport planning for London Rail and Underground, said: “We are of course very keen to bring our London Overground model to other parts of the city, and will work closely with anyone interested, including those in Kent, on the best way to improve rail services for passengers. We will be looking ahead to the south eastern franchise which is up for renewal in 2018 as a further opportunity for us to contribute to improving inner suburban routes.”

(Picture by: mattbuck, licensed under Creative Commons)

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Martin   16/06/2015 at 18:13

great idea, the more [ lines ] the merrier?

Simon   17/06/2015 at 13:43

Indeed the more the merrier. It would make sense and also the metro services on SWT & Southern too, having one unified fleet would make sense allow the current Southern for example to get rid of there fleet of 455 due to there poor acceleration and interior layout

Andrew Gwilt   26/06/2015 at 13:01

London Overground could take over with the extension of the East London Line to Bromley North, West Wickham & Hayes and London Overground could be taking over the Dartford loops-Dartford via Lewisham & Abbey Wood, Datford via Falconwood & Bexleyheath and Dartford via Mottingham & Crayford.

Lance Diggle   21/10/2015 at 08:33

Would this mean the loss of ticket offices as station were included into the Oyster scheme?

Harun Abdul Rahman   08/12/2015 at 20:36

Would my season ticket still work?

Heywood Jablome   25/01/2016 at 14:05

I hope this does not extend to Sth West Trains in 2019. Their service is awesome (ok, at a price) and the last thing I want as a passenger is SWT being discouraged from continuing to invest and then having to put up with a nationalised service. At present my trains are on time, clean, and comfortable. The staff are friendly and courteous. Will this remain the same under TFL ?

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