30 January 2016

Mayor of London to take over South West Trains

The Department for Transport and Transport for London have announced plans for a radical overhaul of rail operations in London. They said:

"The proposals — on which views are being sought — would see the transfer of rail services that operate mostly or wholly within the Greater London boundary to TfL when the current franchises are due for renewal. This could include inner suburban rail services from London Bridge, Cannon Street, Charing Cross, Moorgate, Victoria and Waterloo. The transfer of inner suburban rail services to TfL, which is accountable to the Mayor, will be introduced whilst ensuring service improvements for all and no detrimental effect on fares or longer distance services."

So what does that mean for Earlsfield's beleaguered commuters?

"This proposal includes the transfer of responsibility from the DfT to TfL for inner suburban rail services that operate mostly or wholly within Greater London, as current franchises fall due for renewal. The DfT will continue to be responsible for outer suburban services. The partnership will ensure that all the region’s passengers benefit from a joined-up approach."
That is, TfL would take over some South West Trains services, including those serving Earlsfield. But they'll wait for the current franchise to end. For SWT, that's 2017.

"In the case of the new South Western franchise it is envisaged that bidders will be asked to produce plans for a separable business unit for inner London services as already set out in the franchise competition prospectus published in November 2015, potentially to be transferred to TfL in 2020 once capacity works at Waterloo are complete."

So, in reality it's unlikely TfL would take over until 2020.

The consultation document also sets out specific(ish) proposals for improvements to SW services.

Of course, changing ownership of the service won't magically fix the problems of an old and overloaded rail network. But anyone who regularly watches packed trains pass by Earlsfield of a morning would have to wonder: wouldn't anything be better than this?

Your views are being sought by 18 March. More information on the consultation is available online.

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