Mayor of London Boris Johnson says more than a hundred local rail stations would be refurbished to London Overground standards if Ministers agree to give him greater control of rail services.
The London Overground was built out of the failing Silverlink franchise which was transferred to Transport for London in 2007.
Investment in new trains, refurbished stations and visible staffing has seen the service achieve high levels of passenger satisfaction.
The latest National Passenger Survey gave it a 90 per cent approval rating compared to an 82 per cent average across London and the South East.
The Overground is also one of the UK’s most reliable and highest performing rail services as measured by Network Rail.
The Mayor and TfL have set out their proposals for control over fares and service standards on suburban lines in a response to the Westminster Government’s consultation on Rail Decentralisation.
They say placing services “under direct Mayoral management” instead of franchising routes to different operators will save money and deliver a more “coherent” service for passengers.
It’s claimed that savings from the parts of the Southeastern and West Anglia franchises which cover London could amount to £100m over 20 years, freeing up money for investing in services and station improvements.
TfL says stations such as Bexleyheath, Herne Hill and Bethnal Green would also benefit from increased train frequencies.
Setting out the case for greater control, Mayor Johnson said Londoners “deserve far better service than the current franchises deliver”.
He added: “This plan gives us the opportunity to create a truly joined up suburban railway system that would vastly improve service and deliver better stations. A more coherent London-wide structure would bring more frequent trains, safer stations and sanity to a mind bogglingly complex fare system.”
The Mayor’s plans were yesterday backed by the London Assembly who have submitted their own response to the consultation.
Transport Committee Chair Caroline Pidgeon said Assembly Members “believe Transport for London’s oversight would lead to more consistency and better services for passengers.”
The proposals have also been backed by passenger watchdog London TravelWatch.
Chair Sharon Grant commented: ‘The London passenger experience of devolution has been a very positive one to date. We hope the Government will be able to act quickly to accept devolution to TfL and allow the benefits to be realised much earlier and to a much greater extent than a decision to delay or defer to some later date.’
Grant said her body also wanted the Government to work with TfL “towards the devolution of the other suburban train service elements of franchises such as South West Trains and Thameslink”.
TfL’s response to the consultation can be found at Appendix 1 of the May 31st Finance and Policy Committee report.
If the proposals are accepted by Ministers they will become part of the new franchises which will be put out for tender later this year.