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TfL to control all London commuter services and new metro network

All rail services that operate mostly or entirely within Greater London could be transferred to Transport for London (TfL) when current franchises expire under a new partnership with the Department for Transport.

Announced today, the partnership would see TfL take over suburban rail services in the capital and lead on a new London Suburban Metro service.

The partnership between TfL and the department was designed to increase local accountability and power over transport services, with local authorities in and outside of London expected to have a greater say when the network comes under TfL’s scope.

Under the proposed arrangements is a TfL/DfT shared enterprise, with the London body taking control over South Western services from 2017, Southeastern’s capital routes from 2018 and those of Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern three years later.

A new metro service would also hold the potential for over 80% of stations to have a train every 15 minutes, up from 67% today, as well as the potential for more regular services via Clapham Junction, south-east London and Kent.

The metro fleet would offer more high-performing trains with better acceleration and braking, more and wider doors, more standing space and faster boarding and alighting.

It would also open up the debate for improvements to track and signalling, particularly at junctions, to allow more trains to run and at faster speeds in certain areas. According to the DfT/TfL partnership prospectus, this could substantially alleviate bottlenecks in the medium term.

Working alongside councils and LEPs, TfL seeks to bring together funding to build new interchanges at several locations to link different lines.

Since the metro scheme would require significant investment and take “some years” to finish, the partnership is still assessing potential funding options.

In the prospectus, the two bodies argue that the franchises under DfT’s and TfL’s remit, c2c and London Overground, are two of the “best performing operators nationally”, with both benefiting from DfT/TfL input.

The document said: “Our ambition is to continue to focus on improvements to high performing routes, ensuring that these set the benchmark for all train operator contracts under the partnership’s remit.

“If all such services were to, as a minimum, achieve 95.5% PPM then this would equate to 50 million fewer delayed journeys each year, than today.”

Mike Brown, London’s transport commissioner, said providing stations close to people’s homes served by frequent services is vital to the future success of the capital – yet there are still “wide variations” in the levels of customers’ experience.

“Through this new partnership we will work with the DfT to radically improve the service that rail customers’ experience – integrating fares and information and bringing inner suburban rail services into public transport network,” he said.

“This will bring us closer to delivering what customers want and London’s economy needs – a reliable metro-style rail service that supports new homes and jobs and improves the quality of life for millions of people.”

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin MP said the government is working closely with TfL to agree the best way of delivering integrated and seamless journeys both inside and outside of the capital. As the bodies continue these discussions, he called on relevant organisations to offer their views through today’s consultation.

The government hopes the partnership will be established in time to provide input to the procurement processes for the franchises set to expire in the coming years.

In the case of the new South Western franchise, for example, it is expected that bidders will be required to draft plans for a separable business unit for inner London services, as already detailed in the franchise prospectus from last year. This would potentially be transferred to TfL in 2020 once capacity works at Waterloo come to an end.

London TravelWatch welcomed the proposed partnership, calling the bodies’ joint rail prospectus a positive step towards more consistent and joined up rail services in the capital.

Its chair, Stephen Locke, said: “We have long supported the concept of rail devolution and hope that this new partnership between the DfT and TfL will allow them to build on the success of London Overground.

“We will now start to look at the details in the proposals and will produce a detailed response to the questions they pose. A lot of work will be needed to turn these positive commitments into actual service improvements.”

(Top image c. mattbuck)


Nationalise The Railways?   21/01/2016 at 18:01

It warms the heart, does it not, to see the mayor of London and the government's transport minister, both Tories, agree to expand the scope of nationalisation in order to standardise and improve performance, and deliver "the best way of delivering integrated and seamless journeys both inside and outside of the capital"? You can't help but wonder why they don't reach that conclusion with respect to the rest of the system?

Andrew Gwilt   21/01/2016 at 19:06

London Overground are to operate suburban metro services in North London, South London, Southwest London, Southeast London, North Surrey, North Kent, Northwest Kent, Medway, South Hertfordshire and the West Ealing-Greenford line in West London to be part of the London Overground network.

David Fenner   22/01/2016 at 20:00

Generally I agree with the plan to bring London suburban rail services under TfL but I do wonder about the impact of including Thameslink in this group. Agree the Thameslink Luton/St. Albans to Sutton is suburban but does this include the Bedford/Cambridge to Brighton services which have a much wider catchment. If not then the Thameslink core will end up being run by two different TOC's with potential for problems in this densely operated section.

Fitology Phil   23/01/2016 at 23:06

This looks a bit familiar, why not call it "Network South East"?

Lutz   25/01/2016 at 01:13

Misguided if you take into account the risk of having the RMT Trots bringing the whole of London through industrial action, unless of cause the train services are fully automated as has been suggested. Not only that, but it will lead to a significant increase of local taxes to cover the capital cost of the infrastructure enhancements that are hinted at. Finally, the existing London Overground is frequently referenced as a superior services, but it is toy train set compared to the existing suburban services, and introducing more standing room is contrary to hat passengers on those services are looking for.

Elias   25/01/2016 at 20:32

Anything is better than southeastern! Terrible service trains are always delays never connects with another train! My stations only serves on route (cannon street) it could serve four (Victoria, Charing Cross and Blackfriars) but they can't manage to diversify the line into these different location. Every train in the morning complete packed after wool which Arsenal! They cancel trains as they please or skip station to fix their messy unworkable schedule! Sunday's you have a four carriage train every half an hour! So I'm sure anything that the dft/TFL do to this line is an improvement

Rayk   29/01/2016 at 12:28

What has been announced is a consultation without promises. This article is all wishful thinking.

Kev   16/09/2016 at 14:52

If london overground was take on all of the the London and southeast services its initals would be "L.O.S.E Trains " so that would be "London Overground and South East" Train services

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