THE MAYOR of London has called for Transport for London to become the rail infrastructure manager for devolved suburban rail services, paving the way for a metro-style service in south and south east London.

TfL has also published a document setting out the strategic case for ‘metroisation’, outlining plans to deliver frequency increases enabled by up to £1.7 billion of infrastructure improvements. TfL’s strategy says metroisation has six key elements – predictable services, better connections, more capacity, shorter journey times, a more reliable service and better customer service and experience. It suggests reducing complex service patterns could help improve services; for example, by reducing the number of trains crossing the junction at Lewisham from 29 out of 37 in the peak hour at present to one in three.

A flagship route between Balham and Victoria would operate at up to 18 trains per hour (tph), enabled by digital signalling delivering Automatic Train Operation. The East London line would also adopt digital signalling to enable a 24tph service with 10-minute intervals to each branch, along with an 18tph service between New Cross Gate and Sydenham. The same principle would also be adopted on Southeastern lines from Charing Cross and Cannon Street to Greenwich and Lewisham, with 10-minute interval services promised on the Greenwich, Bexleyheath, Sidcup and Grove Park lines, supplemented by additional peak trains.

A significant expansion of South Eastern metro services into Victoria would include 10-minute intervals on the Herne Hill line and through Peckham to Lewisham, combined with new high-level platforms at Brockley to provide an interchange.

A simplified service out of London Bridge would deliver 8tph through Peckham to Tulse Hill and 4tph on the Crystal Palace and Hackbridge lines, with a new interchange at Streatham Common. Turn up and go 10-minute interval services are also promised between Orpington, Bromley and Beckenham, along with a regular, even-interval service on the Wimbledon loop.


Infrastructure interventions required include turnback facilities at Cheam, Wallington, Cannon Street and Dartford, with grade separation at Gloucester Road junction in Croydon as part of Network Rail’s Croydon Area Remodelling Scheme (CARS) along with Balham Junction and Falcon Junction (near Clapham Junction). Smaller-scale remodelling would take place at Tulse Hill, West Norwood, Crystal Palace and Norwood Junction, while additional tracks between Penge East and Kent House would allow fast trains to overtake slower services.

The core metroisation proposal has been broken down by TfL into seven packages to deliver incremental benefits which could be progressed in any order, one being the transfer of services to TfL and the others grouped geographically. Several packages assume delivery of the Croydon remodelling (CARS) by Network Rail as a prerequisite.

The total cost of £1.7 billion is said to compare favourably with other major transport schemes, but TfL notes funding and financing ‘will remain a significant challenge’. TfL says benefits of metroisation will spread across the wider south east, with a 25% increase in peak frequencies from Kent to Charing Cross and a 43% increase from Kent to Victoria. It suggests longer-distance services would not be slowed down and that freight requirements have also been considered.

TfL’s favoured delivery route is for a transfer of services, similar to the London Overground model, saying such a move would make metroisation much more likely and easier to achieve. It suggests this approach would incorporate contractual incentives to improve reliability, off-peak frequency enhancements, more station staffing and introduction of metro-style rolling stock. However, it also notes the options of delivery through the Department for Transport’s Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline approach or through the franchising process, adopting a similar approach to the Evergreen enhancements delivered by Chiltern Railways.

Wintry sunset: unit No 378225 arrives at Queens Road Peckham forming the 15.32 Highbury & Islington - Clapham Junction on 20 January 2015. Antony Guppy