Rail commuters in Kent are set to benefit from the proposal announced by Transport for London to operate the ‘Metro’ services in south-east London and parts of Kent, including Dartford and Sevenoaks.
Kent County Council (KCC) has welcomed the news that Transport for London (TfL) accepted a series of non-negotiable “red lines” to protect fares and services for Kent’s rail commuters that were agreed during talks between the two organisations over the future of the Metro services currently operated by Southeastern.
These “red lines” for devolution of the Metro rail services will ensure that:
– fares for rail passengers in Kent must be no higher than the national level of fares
– existing rail paths for Kent’s mainline services must be protected
– extra capacity on peak Metro services must only be provided through train lengthening.
Rail passengers using Dartford are already able to use Oystercards for their journeys. If these latest proposals are backed by the Department for Transport, TfL aims to extend this benefit to Kent rail users from Sevenoaks by integrating fares through use of the Oystercard.
Matthew Balfour, KCC Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, said:
“We welcome the proposal from Transport for London for the transfer of the Southeastern Metro services, based on our firm position that there must be no detrimental impact on the county’s rail users. We are pleased that Transport for London accepted our non-negotiable “red lines” as a starting point for discussions, and as a result, rail commuters are set to reap a series of benefits.”
Kent County Council is now investigating other possible benefits from the proposals, such as faster journeys by omitting some stops such as St Mary Cray on Maidstone East services, as this station would be served by the four-trains per hour Thameslink service planned from 2018.
Subject to approval by the Department for Transport, TfL would aim to complete discussions so that the proposals could form part of the franchise award for the present Southeastern operating area in June 2018.