Kent County Council (KCC) has set out a series of non-negotiable “red lines” to protect fares and services for Kent’s rail commuters during talks over the future of the county’s ‘Metro’ lines.
KCC on Tuesday discussed a proposal by Transport for London (TfL) to transfer the south-east London Metro train services from Southeastern to TfL’s franchise operator, London Overground Railway.
Matthew Balfour, KCC Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, laid out KCC’s commitment to protecting the county’s commuters at the London Assembly Transport Committee.
He said: “There are a number of potential benefits to the county’s rail users.
“However, we are absolutely clear that we will not accept any reduction in service levels as a result of Metro services being transferred from Southeastern to Transport for London.
“We have also stated that there must be no detrimental effect on Kent’s rail fares following transfer of Metro services to Transport for London, and this would need to be guaranteed as part of the Metro transfer agreement between the Department for Transport, Transport for London and the new franchisee.
“This would also be one of our “red lines” that we have stated from the start is non-negotiable.
“While discussions are in the early stages, it is clear that there could be real benefits for Kent’s rail passengers through extension of TfL’s Oystercard and/or smartcard ticketing to Gravesend and Sevenoaks.
“Special arrangements would also need to be agreed in respect of availability of Oystercard on Metro services at each of these stations.”
Kent County Council will also investigate other possible benefits, 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 planned four-trains per hour Thameslink service.
Transport for London would aim to complete discussion so that the proposals could form part of the franchise award for the present Southeastern operating area in June 2018.