Sadiq Khan says he would like to see those key commuter routes devolved to TfL's control

Sadiq Khan has said that he would like to bring more commuter National Rail lines under Transport for London’s (TfL) control. His deputy mayor in charge of housing, Tom Copley, said that he would like to see the Government’s Department for Transport (DfT) ‘hand the Hayes line over to TfL’ after new names were announced for London’s Overground routes on Thursday (February 15).

Also known as the Mid-Kent line, the route runs from Courthill Loop North junction to Hayes railway station in Bromley. At present, only National Rail services use the line.

But, the Mayor of London and another of his deputies, Seb Dance, who oversees transport policy, have said they would like to see more devolution to TfL of commuter line services in and out of the capital. Mr Khan told MyLondon: “Originally, we had a deal with the Government […] with the previous mayor to allow TfL to take over some of these commuter line trains.”

They added: “Chris Grayling, for political reasons, reneged on that deal. But I’d be really keen to take over more commuter line trains, to give them a metro service. If this government’s not willing to do that before the general election, I’m hoping there’s a new Labour government, and they talk to us about doing that.”

Asked about the Hayes line in particular and whether he agreed with Mr Copley, the mayor added that there are ‘a number of lines’ he would like to bring under TfL’s umbrella. Mr Khan also mentioned that he would like to ‘look into’ the idea of a West London Orbital network. Plans for this, it is understood, are on hold until after the mayoral election in May.
TfL would operate ‘better services’

Mr Dance said he believes ensuring that London officials have control over some of the commuter line services would be ‘good news for customers’. He added that he thinks TfL would provide ‘a better service, frankly’.

As an example, he cited Westminster’s management of services during the pandemic. Mr Dance said: “Train operating companies were asked by the Government to reduce their services during the pandemic.

“We didn’t, and, as a result, we’ve seen a much stronger return in terms of ridership on our services than many of the train operating companies have.”

But, the deputy mayor added, a ‘cost implication’ means the move would be ‘not quite as straightforward as that’ but devolution is certainly an idea that is ‘floating around’.

Officials need ‘active co-operation from Government’

Geoff Hobbs, TfL’s Director of Public Transport Service Planning, suggests that the ball is in the Government’s court. He said: “Transport for London (TfL) has a proven track record of making rail services better and more reliable and remains committed to improving rail services through rail devolution as detailed in the Mayor’s Transport Strategy.

“We have previously presented a business case to the Government that demonstrated devolving responsibility for London rail services to TfL would lead to economic benefits for Londoners and better services for commuters. We continue to offer to work collaboratively with the Secretary of State for Transport on rail devolution but we need agreement and active cooperation from Government before we can progress this any further.”

MyLondon approached the Department for Transport for comment. It is understood that, as set out in its Plan for Rail, the Government is committed to a ‘future strategic partnership’ with TfL and other local authorities to ensure the railway best serves passengers in London and the South East.

TfL is expected to continue to have the same responsibilities for services on London Overground and the Elizabeth line as it does now, and there are currently ‘no plans for further devolution’.

See MyLondon News



Hayes (Kent) Village Association

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