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Kiley may propose new rail authority for London

TRANSPORT COMMISSIONER for London Bob Kiley is this week expected to consider plans for a new suburban rail authority to oversee commuter services in to the capital, NCE can reveal.

The proposal would see the Strategic Rail Authority's role within London replaced by the new body, which would have more influence over development and franchising of the capital's commuter rail network.

Details were expected to be passed to Kiley this Friday.

However, speaking exclusively to NCE about the report this week, Kiley gave strong backing to the proposal. He took charge of a similar suburban rail authority as part of his work in New York.

'Control of rail services in the London area needs to be Londonised, ' he said. 'It is just a logical development and I can't see any serious argument against it.'

The plan has been prepared by Docklands Light Railway chief executive Ian Brown who envisages a new body made up from Transport for London and SRA staff. NCE understands that TfL and the SRA have already discussed the proposal with the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. It is hoped the new authority would help to speed the implementation of schemes such as Crossrail and Hackney South West rail project.

'There is no clear structure for commuter rail in London, ' said Brown.'We don't want one strategy for London from TfL and another from the SRA. TfL still has a lot to learn to develop its position in conjunction with the SRA but it could develop into a situation where TfL has a direct role in purchasing trains for national rail services.'

The proposal received strong backing this week from business lobby group London First. Director of policy and transport Irving Yass said: 'The part of the Greater London Authority Act allowing TfL to give the SRA directions on setting up rail franchises is meaningless in practice.'

He added: 'The GLA didn't get this right and there has to be a way for TfL to have some greater say over suburban rail services.'

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