No doubt as a direct result of the Revolt’s lobbying (moaning?) it was announced last week that TfL, Mayor of London, and Dept for Transport have agreed that London Overground should take over the franchises for all suburban rail services in the capital. For the long-suffering commuters from Blackheath, Hither Green, Lee, Greenwich, Woolwich (no need to list every station on the line…) this is promising news as the Southeastern franchise is up for renewal in 2018 and will be taken over by London Overground.
Detail is scant at present so the Revolt is only going to flag a few things and is reserving the full ‘Huzzar’ until we know more:
- Southeastern still have two years to run the service. We still want to see improvements from them but there is the real risk they will just milk the franchise now there is no chance of renewal. Our concerns and complaints, most recently on service (again) stand;
- Price structures may change. At present from Blackheath for example there is the option of either a Zone 3 TfL travel card or the considerably cheaper Southeastern season ticket. Should TfL consolidate fares there could be price implications for passengers;
- The current rolling stock is fairly well suited to the metro service which serves longer routes than other Overground services. Those fancy look-all-the-way-down trains don’t have that much seating so would not be suitable for the run down to Dartford for example;
- Frequency of service could be affected if Overground split the routes or want to focus on an inner London service that impacts on the longer routes.
We must remember that many of the incidents that affect the service are caused by infrastructure issues outside of the operators control so reliability of the line may not improve, but customer service, information, and service in general from the operator can only be better and London Overground seems to have done a good job elsewhere.