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Introducing… The South London Metro

March 25, 2012

It all seems so bleeding obvious and yet somehow we never seem to pull it all together and make the links. OK, so if we add factors 1, 2, 3 and 4 together it leads us to conclude with 5 … let’s try it…

1. TfL/Mayor want to take control of suburban rail services

2. South London gets a bum deal compared to North,East and West over tube services and connectivity (cross-ref to huge success of London Overground)

3. Rail costs can be reduced by standardisation and commonality

4. South London wants a proper integrated transport network equivalent to tube and with the accountability of TfL rather than private operators

So, where does that lead us…???

5 Well, let me introduce the South London Metro network.

Right, the idea is simple. Strip away the London suburban services from SouthWest Trains, Southern, Southeastern and FirstCapitalConnect (i’ll list them later) and bring them into a South London Metro franchise (equivalent to LOROL for the Overground). But this is not Overground ok! Let Overground be the London Orbital and what it does now – and maybe if it can take more then so be it.  But South London Metro is a network concept that can integrate into the TfL system as its own network.

So now we have a full mini-franchise network that can then integrate all the stations, information, look/feel/branding into the TfL standard (desperately needed!!!) along with the turn up and go frequency of proper metro (i.e. max of 15 minute wait so minimum of 4 trains/hour).

So what about the standardisation point? Well… rolling stock… a new fleet is needed for South London across all 4 franchises.  The same train, same parts, same branding, same mechanics, same depot, all together, the same trains for South London – dedicated South London trains! I’m guessing we would want 5 car sets with 10 car services the norm across virtually the whole Metro network (style of the Overground class 378s?).

So where are we talking about then? Well, here goes…

South West, from Waterloo to: Hampton Court, Shepperton, Epsom/Dorking, Chessington South, Strawberry Hill, Hounslow Loop

Southern, from Victoria/London Bridge to: Epsom, Epsom Downs, Tattenham Corner, Caterham, East Grinstead, Beckenham Junction, Crystal Palace Loop, East/West Croydon

South Eastern, from Charing Cross/Cannon Street to: North Kent lines to Dartford/Gravesend/Gillingham, Hayes, Orpington/Sevenoaks

South Eastern, from Victoria/Blackfriars to: Dartford, Orpington

First Capital Connect, from Blackfriars to: Wimbledon, Sutton

This is South London Metro. In the style of a proper London Transport network, with the roundels, the real time information, the network maps, the branding, the route maps, the colour schemes, the ticketing – this makes South London rail services actually feel part of London more than they currently do.  Bring the stations under TfL’s auspices properly.  These are London commuter stations, a key part of the capital’s transport system just like the tube stations are.

So, the Mayoral candidates want to take control of suburban rail. The Department for Transport are talking about devolution from the Department to local government i.e. the Mayor/TfL.  Now is the time, but it would be a shame not to do it in a way that kept separation – one network for South London, integrated fully into the London Transport network – this is South London Metro.

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One Comment
  1. I suspect that the SWML services would have to be based on usage of the slow lines from Waterloo. So, the slow trains to Woking and Guildford (via Claygate/Leatherhead) would need to be included. On Southern, the East Grinstead route is pretty separate, so wouldn’t really make sence to include.

    Overall though, there is no doubt that TfL should manage these services, including some beyond the GLA boundary.

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