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London Transport: Watch this space for rail decentralisation, says mayor

London Transport: Watch this space for rail decentralisation, says mayor
London Transport: Watch this space for rail decentralisation, says mayor

Image caption, Sadiq Khan says government’s decentralisation offer is ‘transformative’

  • Author, James W Kelly and Tony Grew
  • Role, BBC news

Commuter train services in the capital, currently run by private companies, could come under the control of Transport for London (TfL), according to Sadiq Khan.

The mayor said there had also been discussions about delegating more powers in the areas of skills and training, and about additional funding.

Under their plan, a new public body would take over existing contracts with private operators once they expire and assume responsibility for delivering the services.

Mr Khan said: “One of the things that was confirmed at the meeting this morning is that once those concessions expire and come under the control of the (Ministry of Transport), they will be talking to mayors like myself about which of those railways we can take over.

“I will ensure that once those concessions are finished, those commuter trains that run to London, we get that as well.”

“Watch this space,” he added.

Image source, EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Image caption, Many commuter rail lines in London are operated by private operators

TfL provides the majority of public transport in the capital, but Network Rail routes are operated by private companies including Thameslink and Southern.

It would not be the first time that suburban rail services have come under the direct control of TfL and a Mayor of London.

Mr Khan said it would be “a number of years” before the franchises disappeared, but he would lobby the government to release resources to pick them up when they did.

“What I wouldn’t do, because it would be a disappointment to Londoners, is build these extra lines without extra resources, because they need investment anyway. They’ve been neglected for too long,” he said.

During the election campaign, then Transport Minister Mark Harper claimed that Labour’s renationalisation plans were unfunded.

“You are going back to French-style wildcat strikes without notice,” he said.

A Department for Transport spokesman said the government would carry out “the biggest overhaul of our railways in a generation” and create “a public, passenger-focused Great British Railways”.

“Under our plans for a public passenger transport company, the franchises now expiring will come under the control of Great British Railways,” they added.

Image caption, Sadiq Khan joined other mayors from England’s regions to meet the Prime Minister

On broader plans for devolution, Khan called the new Labour government’s proposal to mayors “transformative”.

However, no final plans have yet been confirmed on what additional powers will be given to the Mayor of London or other regions.

Mr Khan added: “What has become clear from the conversations with Angela Rayner and Keir Starmer today is that they are really keen to devolve more powers, not just to London but to other parts of the country.

“In the coming weeks and months you will hear examples of those additional powers.”