Mayor Boris Johnson has been urged to commit to a series of transparency and service safeguards if his efforts to win control of the Southeastern and Greater Anglia rail franchises are successful.
The Mayor and Transport for London are lobbying UK coalition ministers for control of the franchises in order to improve the quality of service enjoyed by passengers.
They want to reform the lines, bringing them up to the same high service and satisfaction levels enjoyed by users of the London Overground, formerly Silverlink.
Prior to being taken over by TfL in 2007 Silverlink was the subject of widespread complaints over reliability and quality of service.
A major investment programme which brought passengers new trains, additional staffing and more reliable services has seen London Overground emerge as one of the UK’s best performing rail services as measured by National Rail.
Mayor Johnson says gaining control over the Southeastern and Greater Anglia franchises would allow him to bring similar improvements for users of those services.
Speaking earlier this year, the Mayor said commuters “deserve far better service than the current franchises deliver” and claimed devolution would generate savings of £100m over the next 20 years which could be used to improve stations and services.
City Hall had 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 London TravelWatch, the watchdog for passengers in the London area.
Although it backs the Mayor’s desire to expand his rail empire, TravelWatch this week called on him and other operators to sign up to series of safeguards to ensure services are operated for the long term benefit of passengers regardless of where they live or are travelling to.
These include a commitment to work with other operators to provide seamless information to passengers and a commitment to regular and meaningful dialogue with passengers and user groups on issues affecting them.
TravelWatch also wants TfL to engage with “regular and meaningful consultation” with itself and Passenger Focus, the body which represents passengers outside London.
In a statement TravelWatch said: “London’s railways are used by people making a wide range of journeys, both locally and longer distance.
“Any decisions about the operation of the railway must treat passengers fairly, regardless of where they are travelling, and not just be based on the political leadership of the sponsoring authority.”