London Overground Looks Set to Takeover Local Rail Service

South West Trains could be out in three years time when franchise expires

Local train services could become part of the London Overground network in three years time.

The trains currently operated by South West Trains (SWT) out of Putney, Barnes Bridge and Wandsworth Town could switch to Transport for London (TfL) as part of a move to transfer London's suburban rail network to local control.

The SWT franchise is currently under negotiation but is likely to include a break clause that means it could be taken over by TfL in 2019.

This would make SWT routes the second to come under the change, after Southeastern, which is expected to move over to TfL control in 2018.

A spokesperson for TfL said the situation regarding SWT was not yet clarified but it was possible it could change to TfL control by 2019 depending on the franchise discussions.

The announcement that TfL would take over the network, to be rebranded London Overground, was made this week. Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern services will move under TfL control in 2021.

Some reports suggested that the change could lead to lower fares for commuters.

Under the new proposal, TfL will set up a joint management team with the Department of Transport, and will run services which operate within the capital's boundaries, while minstry officials will be responsible for the wider South East.

TfL said the change should lead to fare rationalisation and a better, more streamlined service under one structure, which should make it easier for commuters in a variety of ways, from ticketing, to messaging, claiming refunds and planning journeys.

SWT referred queries on the announcement to TfL.

Tony Arbour, London Assembly Member welcomed the Government’s plans saying, “This will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to redress the the long running anomalies created by the zoning of Kingston and Surbiton in zone 6 and Twickenham in zone 5.

"Moreover it will enable the great success of the Overground which we have seen in Richmond and Hounslow to be replicated across the network. I pay tribute to Boris Johnson for prevailing on the Government to bring this about.”

Unlike most of the existing franchise agreements, income from fares would be handed over to TfL to invest in the network.

January 22, 2016