Boris Johnson has invited Kent MPs and councillors opposed to his rail devolution plans to compare their existing train service with the London Overground experience.
The former Silverlink services were transferred to TfL in 2007, heralding a major investment programme which has brought passengers new trains, additional staffing and more reliable services.
As a result of the investment, the Overground is now consistently one of the UK’s best performing rail services as measured by National Rail and enjoys high levels of passenger satisfaction.
The Mayor and Transport for London are lobbying UK coalition ministers for control of the Southeastern and Greater Anglia rail franchises in order to bring the same high quality service to passengers using those services.
The Mayor says commuters “deserve far better service than the current franchises deliver” and claims devolution would generate savings of £100m over the next 20 years which could be used to improve stations and services.
City Hall had previously indicated it expected a final decision from Ministers in April but recent reports suggest the Mayor’s ambitions are being held up by Kent politicians opposed to London controlling their local rail services.
The Mayor’s calls for control of the franchises is supported by the London Assembly and passenger watchdog London TravelWatch.
A written answer provided to London Assembly Member Darren Johnson reveals TfL’s efforts to win over opponents.
The Mayor says officials have “developed a comprehensive package of safeguards that would prevent me, or any future Mayor, from taking any action that would be detrimental to rail passengers from outside the Capital.”
In his response, the Mayor says “considerable energy” has been devoted to engaging with Kent politicians, and says efforts have been met with “some success, although others remain to be convinced.”
Those who remain opposed to the Mayor’s plans have have been invited to visit the capital and experience the London Overground service for themselves.
Assembly Member Johnson welcomed the Mayor’s response, saying: “There are a lot of myths and misapprehensions circulating amongst Kent politicians about the consequences of TfL taking over the Southeastern services that predominantly serve Greater London.
“I am pleased that the Mayor is happy to provide a free day out on the Overground to any Kent politician in order to show they have nothing to lose and everything to gain from TfL taking over these services.”