Apart from his stellar plans for London pedestrians, Mayor Ken Livingstone (pictured above, riding the Tube) also has plans to take over control of the city’s rail system, improving public transportation on a grand scale. It’s part of the Mayor’s overarching scheme to decrease London’s dependence on cars and switch to walking, cycling, or public transit options, instead.
Livingstone has approached the British government about the possibility of absorbing the urban rail lines (the “metro route”) of Southern, one of Britain’s major train operators.
From the Guardian:
The mayor of London is confident of securing the inner-city portion of the Southern franchise as part of his Overground rail network after talks with No 10 and the Department for Transport. The proposal has met with strenuous opposition from train operators and is believed to have concerned some officials within the Department for Transport, who are worried about the complexity of splitting one of the capital’s biggest franchises in two.
However, transport secretary Ruth Kelly has told officials the she wants "the best possible deal for Londoners" and is interested in the plan. Livingstone’s Transport for London body took over part of the former Silverlink franchise and rebranded it as the London Overground network last year, but the route operated within London only.
Presumably, Livingstone is looking to acquire these urban rail lines for the purpose of improving them—along with the quality of life and mobility of Londoners (who, thanks to Livingstone, are now more inclined to leave their cars at home). There’s no telling, yet, whether or not the Mayor will take control of the privately-held franchise, but if he does, it will probably mean better access and manageable fares for riders.
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