Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Mayor's Masterplan to Improve London Trains

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Mayor's Masterplan to Improve London Trains

Article excerpt


KEN LIVINGSTONE today published his masterplan to improve overland rail routes serving London.

But it would cost billions of pounds and rail industry experts called it a "wish list".

The Mayor wants longer platforms at dozens of stations, and an extra 1,500 carriages to form 12-carriage trains instead of the current six-, eight- or 10-car units.

He wants more than 30 "bottlenecks" replaced by rail flyovers and advanced junction layouts. There would be new signalling that could cut the time gap between trains, leading to faster journeys.

The Mayor would also like more trains to stop at all stations in or near London - but critics warn that would create serious delays for long-distance commuters.

Even if money was no object, rail

platforms needed industry sources say the work could not begin all at once or London would come to a halt. Mr Living-stone is responsible for the Tube and buses but has long been keen to get his hands on overland rail lines inside the M25.

Ministers are already planning to hand the North London line to him, but are dithering over exactly how much power he should have.

His critics say giving him control over London's overland rail could be disastrous because it would effectively split control of train services mid-journey.

Network Rail, responsible for national rail infrastructure, has also been considering plans for an overhaul of train routes. Two weeks ago it unveiled proposals for overcrowded lines served by South West Trains into Waterloo.

They include longer trains and platforms, and new flyovers and track layouts to speed up services.

The Mayor says he is willing to use his fundraising powers, including money from the congestion charge, to help pay for the regeneration of the railway. In return, he wants control over their

management. Commuters' watchdog the Rail Passengers Council has expressed concerns over giving Mr Livingstone or Transport for London greater powers.

Anthony Smith, the council's director, warned; "If he gets control of services it must not be at the expense commuters who start their journeys outside London. …

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