London mayor Boris Johnson has submitted his proposal to government that would see Transport for London take control of suburban rail services.
Johnson says that under direct mayoral management passengers would benefit from more frequent and reliable services, simpler ticketing, cleaner and safer stations and better standards of customer service.
Currently, with the exception of the London Overground network, rail services into the capital are provided by several private train operating companies, each with their own franchise agreement with central Government.
Johnson believes that bringing the franchises under direct mayoral control would not only improve the service, but also save millions of pounds, which would be reinvested into further improving the network. Savings from the Southeastern and West Anglia franchises alone could amount to £100M over 20 years, he claims.
Transport for London (TfL) would use that money to improve some 104 stations, bringing them up to the standard of London Overground stations.
Johnson’s proposals have been submitted as part of the Department for Transport’s (DfT) consultations on Rail Decentralisation and Fares. If adopted, they will become part of the new franchises, the procurement and negotiation process for which is to begin in autumn.
In the next four years, six London-area franchises come up for renewal. TfL has identified the franchises currently operated by Southeastern and West Anglia as priorities for devolution when those franchises come up for renewal in 2014.
TfL has targeted the highest priorities for devolution as being the Southeastern network inner suburban services from Dartford, Sevenoaks and Hayes; and the West Anglia inner suburban services from Enfield Town, Cheshunt and Chingford
Specific stations where improvements in train frequencies and station facilities could be delivered include Bexleyheath, Shortlands, Kidbrooke, Herne Hill, Catford, Denmark Hill, Turkey Street (Enfield), Clapton (Hackney), Stamford Hill, Bethnal Green and Highams Park.