Sadiq Khan may have to change plan to hand commuter railways to TfL as Labour steps in

(L-R) Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham, Labour leader Keir Starmer and London mayor Sadiq Khan (3rdL) attend a meeting with Labour's mayors at the GTG training centre
-Credit: (Image: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Sadiq Khan may have to amend his promise to bring London commuter railway services under TfL’s control as Labour steps in. The party says it plans to bring them under the control of Great British Rail, a new body that would be created as part of the nationalisation of the country’s rail services, were Labour to form a government after the General Election.

During the London mayoral election campaign on April 26, Mr Khan pledged to to bring suburban London railway services under TfL's control, creating a 'revolutionary metro-style' system. The mayor added that he would work with an incoming Labour government, were the British public to elect one to 'end the misery of failing outer London suburban rail services'.

The Financial Times reported on May 29 that shadow transport secretary, Louise Haigh, ruled out the idea. The newspaper reported that Labour said: “Under Labour’s plans for publicly owned passenger rail, as franchises expire, they [the suburban services] would come under Great British Railways’ control."

READ MORE: Boris Johnson's old seat has tiny Tory majority but Labour still predict 'tough' fight

Commuters walk along a packed platform after a single train arrived during the morning rush hour, at Waterloo Station
Commuters could soon be travelling on publicly owned railways -Credit:HENRY NICHOLLS/AFP via Getty Images

Now, the Mayor of London and his party have set out their positions in full. A Labour spokesperson told MyLondon: “Labour-led London has a world class integrated transport system. Since Sadiq Khan’s election, Londoners have benefitted from the Elizabeth line, Night Tube, fares freeze, the hopper fare and the Superloop.

“Great British Railways will build on this example and give the Mayor of London, devolved leaders in Scotland, Wales, and other Mayoral Combined Authorities a statutory role in governing, managing, planning and developing the rail network, to bring decision making as close as possible to local communities. Under Labour’s plans for publicly-owned passenger rail, as franchises expire, they will come under Great British Railways’ control.”

Commuter lines 'not fit for purpose'

A spokesperson for Sadiq Khan said "The existing commuter rail lines in London are clearly not fit for purpose - with cancellations, delays and poor reliability. We will work closely with a Labour government to deliver a system that provides the service passengers deserve.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told MyLondon after being asked about whether he would ensure Mr Khan had the cash to deliver his transport promises - including a metro-style commuter system - that Mr Khan has ‘got the right priorities for London’, and these were ‘vindicated’ at the mayoral election on May 2. He added that a Labour government and mayor working together would be a ‘game changer’ for the city, a phrase also used by Mr Khan.

Sir Keir Starmer pictured in black suit and shirt adjusting his collar and smiling
Sir Keir Starmer talked to MyLondon in Uxbridge on Saturday (June 1) -Credit:Adam Toms/MyLondon

The Labour leader claimed that the Tories had used the Mayor of London as a ‘thing to fight and deal with conflict'. Asked specifically about money, Sir Keir told MyLondon: “Well look, we will work together. He has got good plans on transport. He’s got good plans on housing - one of our missions is to build 1.5 million houses - working together with the mayor and we can deliver on these much needed promises for the country.”

Lines the mayor has his eyes on

The first lines that Mr Khan said he had his eyes on in April were:

  • Suburban Southeastern services linking Victoria, Charing Cross and Cannon Street with Dartford, Hayes and Sevenoaks

  • Great Northern services connecting Moorgate with Welwyn Garden City, Hertford and Stevenage

It came after the mayor told MyLondon in February that he would like to bring more commuter National Rail lines under TfL's control. He said: “Originally, we had a deal with the Government... with the previous mayor to allow TfL to take over some of these commuter line trains.

“Chris Grayling, for political reasons, reneged on that deal. But I'd be really keen to take over more commuter line trains, to give them a metro service. If this government’s not willing to do that before the general election, I’m hoping there's a new Labour government, and they talk to us about doing that.”

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