Overground train

Rail devolution – answering your questions

The Mayor, Sadiq Khan, is calling on the Government to give responsibility for London rail services to Transport for London (TfL).

Do you have a question about what this would mean for you? TfL’s Frequently Asked Questions should have the answer.

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Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: What benefits would TfL deliver to passengers?

A: In the short term we would:

  • make the trains more reliable
  • refurbish stations and trains to improve the environment for customers
  • provide more staff and ensure that disabled people no longer need to book ahead
  • install more ticket gates
  • introduce Oyster and contactless payment where they’re not already available
  • provide more or better ticket machines
  • add stations and lines which we’ll run to the Tube map and to our integrated real-time travel information systems

In the longer term we want to make suburban rail services more like a metro network, with more frequent trains, shorter journey times, new interchanges, and clear, defined ‘lines’ – a bit more like the Tube.

Q: How do you deal with services that go beyond London?

A: Some of the trains that TfL will run terminate at important towns on the edge of London, like Dartford and Sevenoaks. That will continue when TfL takes them over, and passengers from those places will get all the same benefits as passengers within London if they travel on TfL’s trains.

Many passengers from those towns already travel on the longer distance ‘fast’ trains that run from central London to places further away, like Canterbury or Dover. TfL won’t be responsible for those – they’ll still be run by a train company appointed by the Government, and there will be no changes to how often they run or where they stop.

Q: What proportion of journeys does this affect, if you won’t get control of services that go beyond London?

A: Some of the trains that TfL will run terminate at important towns on the edge of London like Dartford and Sevenoaks, although 96 per cent of people travelling on these services are making journeys within London.

Q: How can you guarantee a more frequent and reliable service – what would you do differently?

A: We would pay the train operator we appoint bonuses if they run the trains on time, and charge them reductions if there are delays. We’d also work closely with the train operator and Network Rail to identify and prevent the root causes of delays, and respond quicker to get things running smoothly again when they do go wrong.

In the longer term we would invest in upgrading the track and trains, which would allow us to run more frequent trains and carry more people.

Q: Would my fares increase?

A: We’ve guaranteed that no fares will increase as a result of this change. And, in fact, the Mayor’s fares freeze applies to all TfL fares, so this will include rail services from the time they transfer TfL.

Q: Will there now be a freeze in all rail fares within London?

A: The Mayor’s fares freeze applies to all TfL fares. That will include rail services from the time they transfer TfL.

Q: Would I be able to use my Oyster or Contactless card on trains if TfL begins running these services?

A: Yes – all services that TfL runs will accept Oyster and contactless payment.

Q: Would the 60+ / Freedom Pass be accepted on rail services if TfL was to run them?

A: These passes are already accepted on most railways in London, although sometimes only after 09:30. On services that transfer to us they would be valid for travel at any time.

Q: Where does the figure of 80,000 new homes actually come from?

A: We have calculated that in south London there is the potential for 80,000 new homes to be built within 1km of rail stations – but without better transport connections much of that potential won’t be realised.

Q: You talk about enhanced staffing and better customer service – how much will it all cost?

A: The detailed figures are set out in our business plan. Part of the cost will be covered by increased fares revenue – because better services will attract more customers, and because we’ll crack down on ticketless travel. We’ll cover the rest from the TfL budget.

This is worth paying: our analysis shows that for every £1 that we spend on improving services there will be £4.30 worth of benefits for rail users – and that will benefit businesses and the economy too.

Q: What’s the timescale for the devolution of rail services?

A: Subject to agreement from the Government, services in southeast London could transfer to TfL in 2018. Services from Waterloo could transfer around 2020, with services in south central London and from Moorgate transferring in 2021.

Q: Would the train services I use now decrease in frequency?

A: There will be no decreases in frequency, and in the long term we want to make trains more frequent.

Q: Would longer distance services continue to stop at my local station as they do now?

A: Yes. TfL would not be responsible for the longer distance ‘fast’ trains that run from central London to places further away like Canterbury or Dover (and sometimes stop at key interchanges in London like Bromley South). Those trains will still be run by a train company appointed by the Government, and there will be no changes to how often they run or where they stop. 

Q: Would the journeys of passengers travelling outside of London be adversely affected?

A: No. TfL would not be responsible for the longer distance ‘fast’ trains that run from central London to places further away like Canterbury or Dover (and sometimes stop at key interchanges in London like Bromley South). Those trains will still be run by a train company appointed by the Government, and there will be no changes to how often they run or where they stop. 

Q: I live outside of London – how does this benefit me?

A: If you live in one of the towns on the edge of London that has some TfL trains, you will get all the same benefits that passengers in London get – like fewer delays, better customer service and Oyster and contactless payment. If you live further away TfL would not be responsible for your trains, but there may still be some benefits, such as fewer delays on trains in London, meaning there will be fewer knock-on delays on longer distance trains too.

Q: How would you improve my local station?

A: At all the stations we become responsible for we’ll do deep-cleans and refurbishment to improve the environment for customers. We’ll make more station staff available to help and ensure that disabled people no longer need to book ahead if they require assistance with their journeys. We’ll install more ticket gates to prevent people travelling without a ticket, introduce Oyster and contactless payment where they’re not already available, and where necessary provide more or better ticket machines. Stations and lines we run will appear on the Tube map and will be part of our integrated real-time travel information system – for example, appearing on the ‘rainbow boards’ across our network.

Q: London Overground trains are only 5-car trains – does that mean there will be capacity problems during rush hour?

A: No – all trains will be the same length they are now, and possibly in time some will be longer.

Q: Could you guarantee me a more reliable service?

A: On rail lines that TfL has taken over previously – such as services from Liverpool Street last year – there have been clear improvements in reliability. We think we can achieve the same on other services that transfer to us in future.