TfL could take over Southern rail routes under new government transport plans

Caitlin Morrison
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South Coast Commuters Travel In To London On The Second Three-Day Southern Rail Strike
TfL could take over Southern rail routes (Source: Getty)

Transport for London (TfL) could be given control over Southern rail routes when the current Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise comes up for renewal in 2021.

The department for transport (DfT) today unveiled a raft of plans to overhaul rail transport in the UK, which includes the possibility of reviving services closed due to cuts in the 60s and 70s.

Also contained within the DfT's "strategic vision for rail" is a proposal that TfL will take over some London-based routes previously controlled by rail companies.

"In 2014, the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise brought together two different franchises under one management contract to support the delivery of the Thameslink Programme," the DfT noted.

"The current franchise will come up for renewal in 2021 and with the completion of the Thameslink Programme the government’s intention is to split the franchise into two or more new franchises. In advance of competitions planned to start in 2019, the department intends to review the future shape and size of the franchises that will replace the existing arrangements."

DfT said it will work with TfL to "explore options for transferring selected services such as the West London line to TfL".

"It is vital that performance and reliability are at acceptable levels across these routes, and that the benefits of the new trains and completed route and station upgrades are realised in full for passengers," the transport department said.

Jonathan Fox, TfL’s director of rail and sponsored services, said: "This is a positive step forward and we welcome the opportunity to improve services for more rail passengers in the near future. We look forward to discussing next steps with the DfT, alongside the broader case for further rail devolution, which we believe is absolutely vital in order to support new jobs, homes and economic growth to the benefit of the entire country."

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