Transport for London (TfL) could take over all suburban rail services, which will see routes all across the capital come under London Overground for the first time.
A lot of people will say it's about bloody time. We said last week that many living on Southern and Southeastern routes have been asking for this for years; well the Department for Transport and City Hall are finally sorting this out. The plans — which aren't concrete yet, but it's hard to work out what could scupper them — are for a London Suburban Metro service, which could take in services to London Bridge, Cannon Street, Charing Cross, Moorgate, Victoria and Waterloo.
Over 80% of stations would have a train every 15 minutes, new rail connections would be developed, the trains should get better and passengers would experience better stations, staffing and accessibility. A Centre for London report last week detailed more possibilities of how bringing rail under TfL control could make travelling better.
Southeastern would be the first franchise to come into TfL's fold in 2018, South West Trains has a 'break clause' that could be invoked in 2019, and Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern would follow in 2021. So this isn't going to happen overnight, but it's something to cling to when waiting for your train that's been delayed for the fourth time in a row.
Mayor Boris Johnson said
Our railways have been the workhorse of the London and south east economy since Victorian times. By working closely together and taking on these new services, we’re going to emulate the success of the London Overground and give the entire capital and surrounding areas the services they truly deserve.
Ben Rogers, director at Centre for London, sounded a note of caution about south London, borne out of their recent research:
If we are going to meet the growing pressures on south London's public transport system we will need to double capacity in its rail network. This will require major investment, from central government, beyond what can be funded from TfL and business contributions. Without spending on signalling and train management systems, new trains and better platform management, London could still grind to a halt.