Appeal to devolve London’s suburban rail services

Roger Mills BOROUGH NEWS, Borough-wide Leave a Comment

img_1138_25226032844_oThe Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has presented the Secretary of State for Transport with the business case for the further devolution of London’s suburban rail services to Transport for London (TfL).

The plan sets out how a better integrated and more reliable suburban rail network would improve services for millions of passengers, many of whom are being severely let down by suburban rail services out of stations like London Bridge and Waterloo.

The principle of the further devolution of suburban rail services has already been agreed by the Government in a joint DfT/TfL prospectus in January 2016. The business case presented today sets out how further Rail devolution would also deliver substantial economic benefits, supporting the development of thousands of new homes and jobs in outer London, all while remaining cost neutral to central government.

The business case states how rail infrastructure in south London has been under-utilised, with low levels of capacity, poor service provision and increasingly crowded services. The case explains how, working closely with partners, TfL could apply its experience of successfully running the London Underground and London Overground networks to substantially improve travel for millions of rail passengers.

Improvements TfL would introduce for passengers include:

More frequent services, including increasing services longer term between Orpington and Victoria from 6 trains to 8 trains an hour, and trains from Bexleyheath to London from 7 trains to 9 trains per hour
Integrated fares and ticketing, with any freeze in TfL fares also being applied to devolved rail routes within London.
Cleaner, refurbished and safer stations with all day staffing, turn up and go services for those with accessibility needs, and more reliable trains
Installing more ticket gates, introducing Oyster and contactless payment where they’re not already available, and providing more or better ticket machines
Integrated branding and information for passengers across London’s entire public transport network, including adding newly devolved stations/lines to the Tube map
Rail devolution would ensure better links between London rail services and the local communities they serve, with better coordinated decision-making across rail networks, and closer collaboration with local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships. It would be a catalyst for further regeneration and support thousands of new homes and jobs.

In their submissions to the Outer London Commission, Kingston, Sutton and Croydon councils all stated that ‘poor transport infrastructure seriously limits the scope for growth’ in their areas.

While focusing on how suburban rail services would be improved, the case makes it very clear that those longer-distance services going beyond London’s boundaries would still be run by the Government. However these services would also benefit from the changes, with consequential improvements in train service reliability achieved outside of the capital.


Mike Brown MVO, London’s Transport Commissioner –

“We have worked hard to deliver better services for our customers on the rail services we control, delivering major improvements and greater reliability. We have taken neglected parts of the transport network and transformed them to support new homes, jobs and economic growth across the Capital.

“London Overground has become one of the most popular and punctual railways anywhere in the country. We want to bring this level of service to the wider London rail network – with seamless interchanges, a single fares structure and more frequent, reliable trains.”

Co-chairs of the cross party All Party Parliamentary Group for London, Bob Neill MP and Steve Reed MP –

“London MPs from all parties fully support these proposals. We remain convinced that transferring more suburban services to TfL will bring about positive and tangible changes for rail passengers across the capital.

“We urge the Government to make a swift decision and put in place a concrete plan to ensure that the vast and unrivalled opportunities presented by these proposals are realised.”

Matthew Balfour, Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport –

“We welcome the proposal from Transport for London for the transfer of the Southeastern Metro services, based on our firm position that there must be no detrimental impact on the county’s rail users. We are pleased that Transport for London accepted our non-negotiable “red lines” as a starting point for discussions, and as a result, rail commuters are set to reap a series of benefits.”


Cllr Claire Kober OBE, Chair of London Councils –

“The transfer of rail services to Transport for London cannot come soon enough for Londoners who have had to put up with poor rail services for too long. The devolution of responsibility for the existing London Overground network and TfL Rail has shown that it delivers a service that more efficiently and effectively meets the needs of the communities they serve, and unlocks the potential to integrate transport planning to boost housebuilding and local economies.”


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