London mayor seeks greater control of rail network.

London mayor Boris Johnson is to lobby the Department for Transport for greater control over rail services in the capital.

The plan would see Transport for London gaining power over inner suburban services stretching as far as Sevenoaks to the south and Hertford to the north. Currently, it has direct responsibility only for the London Overground services including the North London Line and the new newly extended and reopened East London Line.

“This is not some crazed bid for power over London’s railways,” said Johnson. “It is an attempt to sort out a division between two systems that is letting London down. The fractured organisation of London’s suburban railways is totally inefficient and needs a complete overhaul. My vision is for one integrated suburban service operating to the standards we have demonstrated can be achieved on London Overground.”

Johnson said his proposals would involve lower fares, higher frequencies, better integration with the London Underground, upgrades to over 100 stations that would come under TfL control and higher staffing levels. The aim would be to improve standards to a level that matches those at London Overground.

Seven current rail franchises containing inner London commuter operations will be up for renewal during the next London Mayor’s term of office, providing what Johnson described as “an opportunity it would be foolish to miss”.

Ken Livingstone proposed a similar scheme during his previous term as mayor, prior to being defeated by Johnson in the last Mayoral elections. He has indicated that he would follow a similar policy.

This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport. Click here to subscribe.