Do you commute into London every day? Do you know people who do?
If you’ve answered yes to either of these questions, it’s more than likely that you’ll be overcome with boiling rage at the very thought of your commute. There have been years of delays, cancellations, shoddy service and high prices from one of several rail franchises that seem perpetually incapable of getting their affairs in order.
Sadiq Khan understands this frustration, and under new plans unveiled by the mayor commuters could see their routes subsumed into Transport for London’s (TfL) network, to make them part of the London Overground service.
Khan and his team spotted the opportunity in the impending expiration of several operating contracts, currently held by four main groups:
Southern (into London Bridge/Victoria)
The notoriously plagued route, which saw strikes and protests over poor service over the summer, is due for contract renewal in September 2021.
Southeastern (into Charring Cross, Canon Street and Victoria)
Serving south-east London, the franchise’s current contract comes to an end in June 2018 and could be the first to be taken under TfL’s control.
South West Trains (into Waterloo)
Serving south-west London, routes under SWT’s control are due for renewal in 2017, but improvement works at Waterloo would mean that TfL could have to wait until 2020 before it can take over the contract.
Great Northern (into Moorgate)
Great Northern’s services towards Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City could follow routes currently operated by Southern Rail to the TfL network in September 2021.
After an extensive policy document concerning the creation of a southern metro was made public last year, the Government agreed to further devolution of suburban lines in January.
What are the benefits?
TfL has a great track record (pun intended) with the expansion and improvement of commuter routes across the city. Between 2008 and 2010, it opened new London Overground routes which had previously had little or no provision from former routes, such as the old East London line.
The London Assembly transport committee thinks increasing TfL’s reach will result in:
Increased accessibility for the disabled
Khan said: “Passengers on London’s suburban rail routes simply aren’t getting a good enough service. They face increasing rail fares year after year, yet face daily delays, cancellations and overcrowding.
“The Government has already agreed that devolving rail services would improve the daily commute for millions of Londoners. Ahead of the Autumn Statement, I’m looking forward to presenting the full business case for how a transformed and modernised suburban rail network could also unlock new homes and provide other substantial economic benefits for London.
“As our new TfL map demonstrates, devolution will help us deliver a truly integrated transport network where rail passengers get the same standard of service and reliability they get on the Tube, allowing people to connect quickly with all parts of inner and outer London.”