London mayor should run rail services: Ken Livingstone

Trains at Clapham Junction Station Mr Livingstone wants all suburban train routes to be managed by the mayor of London

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Labour's London mayoral candidate said he would bring all suburban train services under the mayor's control to provide a "world class rail service".

Former mayor Ken Livingstone claims it would not lead to higher fares and would save £290m over 20 years.

Mayor Boris Johnson said he had lobbied for more influence on rail franchises.

Lib Dem Brian Paddick said the ex-mayor had failed to keep previous promises, while the Greens' Jenny Jones called for a rail service similar to the Tube.

Mr Livingstone cited the example of London Overground, which was created in 2007 when Transport for London (TfL) took over routes run by Silverlink.

Rail firm profits

A "gross cost contract", he said, would mean the revenue would go to TfL and train operating firms would earn "in proportion" to the quality of their service and "not a single fare will rise".

He claimed the change would save £290m over 20 years, a figure he said he based on a report for TfL last year.

The former mayor said: "Using the precedent I set in 2007 with the London Overground service, I'll make the case for London government to run London rail services.

"This would see TfL take over management of suburban rail services and ensure that the capital has a rail system which puts ordinary Londoners first, rather than the profits of rail companies."

His eight-point plan also included plans to increase frequency to at least four trains an hour, better staffing and more step-free access at stations.

Promises 'broken'

Mr Johnson's spokesman said the mayor had delivered "the construction of an orbital overground railway, doubling passengers on the Overground, the expansion of the East London Line and delivery of Oysterisation [use of the Oyster electronic smart travelcard] across the rail network".

He said: "The mayor continues to lobby the government hard for greater influence over rail franchises in and out of the capital for the benefit of Londoners."

Mr Paddick said: "He [Mr Livingstone] promised to freeze fares during an election campaign and then raised them above inflation the moment he got the job, and he didn't take over suburban rail franchises when he was mayor and his Labour colleagues were in government."

He added: "With so many train franchises approaching the end of their contracts there is now a great opportunity to ensure a better deal for train users."

Ms Jones said: "It makes sense to give the mayor powers that will reward good service with a reasonable profit.

"We would also try to ensure those suburban rail services start as early and end as late as the Tube."

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