Lewisham Council has backed a call for Transport for London (TfL) to take over the running of the Southeastern trains network in a bid to provide "better rail services" for commuters in south east London.

The motion proposed by Bellingham councillor Ami Ibitson was passed unanimously by full council last night (November 25).

Southeastern’s franchise, which currently provides rail services through Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich as well as Kent, is set to end in 2018, giving campaigners the opportunity to lobby the government before the new contract is put in place.

Coun. Ibitson said the London overground, which serves Brockley, Honor Oak and New Cross, has been a success for the borough.

She said: "It makes sense for London to have a consistent rail operator, and for Transport for London are the obvious choice for this.

"Transferring London services from the Southeastern franchise to a London Overground style model would be a good move and would pave the way for similar transfers as other franchises expire."

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Lewisham councillors Ami Ibitson and Chris Barnham.

Councillor Chris Barnham, who seconded the motion, said "My constituents who use Crofton Park station know all too well how much the service needs to improve.

"We in Lewisham labour group will continue to campaign for change, including devolution of suburban train lines into TfL control and the much-needed Bakerloo Line extension."

Lewisham Council’s pledge to back a TfL takeover bid comes after the London Assembly published a report into devolving rail services last month.

The report says that devolving suburban rail routes to TfL will be a "major step toward creating a metro-style rail service across South London".

Asked who should run their railway just under 70 per cent of Southeastern passengers surveyed by the London Assembly chose TfL, compared with around 20 per cent who said it should remain with the current operator.


However councillors in Kent have raised objections in the past over fears that those outside London will not be able to hold Transport for London and the mayor Boris Johnson to account if problems arise.

A Southeastern spokesman said: "We have an excellent working relationship with TfL and should the Secretary of State give them franchising powers for suburban railways, we’ll look forward to working with them to ensure the concession or contract works in the interests of passengers in both London and Kent.

"We are proud of our record, - since taking over in 2006, nearly 300 additional services have been added to our network, over £120 million has been invested, and we have introduced Britain’s first high speed service.

"We want to give passengers the best service possible be it under a DfT franchise or TfL concession model."