TfL promise of more trains and cheaper travel across the South East puts commuter homes in the spotlight

Hundreds of thousands of London commuters are being promised cheaper travel and more frequent services within two years as Transport for London grapples to seize control of privatised train services across the South East. 

The Department for Transport has backed Mayor Boris Johnson’s plans to create a more “joined-up” and “seamless” rail network in and around the capital, which would include taking control of rail services operating within Greater London.

This would mean TfL taking over parts of the South West Trains service when its franchise comes up for renewal next year, followed by South Eastern in 2018. By 2021, TfL could also take over South Central, Great Northern and Thameslink, where they operate in Greater London.

TAKE A TOUR OF 31 HOMES HOTSPOTS ALONG THE SOUTH WEST AND SOUTH EASTERN TRAIN LINES:

The move comes when the gap between property prices in the capital and the rest of the South-East is at its widest ever recorded, forcing many Londoners to head for the commuter belt.

According to the latest Land Registry index, the average property in the capital is worth £514,097, while an average home in the South-East costs £261,581.

However, this price difference must be set against the cost of commuting. A new study suggests that the average London commuter will have travelled 141,437 miles by the time they retire, and spent more than £113,000 on their journey to and from work.

Their average commute time, according to recruitment website Totaljobs.com, is 48 minutes. When added up, this means getting to work will take up an entire year of a person’s working life.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin backs the takeover plans that Mr Johnson says are vital to London’s future prosperity. “We’re going to emulate the success of the London Overground and give the entire capital and surrounding areas the services they truly deserve,” the Mayor says.

Crucially, this would mean extending the Oyster Card service beyond London Underground and Overground. In the hugely popular commuter town of Sevenoaks in Kent, for example, commuters currently pay £99.50 for a weekly travelcard, or £3,980 for an annual season ticket.

The most expensive Oyster card option, covering Zones 1 to 9, costs £84.20 a week, or £3,368 per year, representing a potential annual saving of more than £600.

TfL has also pledged to run more regular trains, with at least 80 per cent of stations being served by a minimum of one London train every 15 minutes.

Sevenoaks commuters have long campaigned for Oyster Cards to be introduced along the line from London.

Tony Clayton, chairman of Sevenoaks Rail Travel Association, says: “This is a breakthrough for the Sevenoaks area and its long-suffering rail passengers. We will be working with Transport for London, the Department for Transport and local government to ensure that these proposals are developed and implemented so that rail travellers see a real difference in quality of service and value for money.”


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