Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by the Commissioner of Transport for London (PRF 44)



  Transport for London (TfL) is governed by a 15-person Board appointed by the Mayor and is responsible for:

    —  London Buses, Croydon Tramlink, and the Docklands Light Railway;

    —  managing London's network of major roads, known as the Transport for London Road Network (TLRN) and all traffic signals in London;

    —  regulating taxis and minicabs;

    —  overseeing water services and other ancillary transport services;

    —  The London Underground is under the control of the Government pending the outcome of the PPP procurement.

  The provision of National Rail services is currently outside TfL's direct responsibilities despite the importance of National Rail's commuter services in bringing commuters into London. The Mayor, through TfL, is required to give guidance to the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) on the development of National Rail services in London.


  London has a high demand for commuter services. C500,000 people per day travel into Central London on National Rail services. Overall demand has remained constant and recently increased despite poor performance following the Railtrack crisis at Hatfield. London relies on rail for commuting due to traffic congestion and lack of coverage by the Underground particularly South of the Thames.

  The following are considered to be valid reasons why current performance is so poor and why significant and sustainable improvements are unlikely unless structural changes are made:

    —  Railtrack is not organised to meet the growing needs of London and the South East Region, showing weaknesses in:

      —  Organisation and management: Railtrack is organised into zones which converge on London. There is no specific Railtrack management unit for London and the South East.

      —  Strategic direction: Railtrack produces an annual network management statement which reflects aspirations put to Railtrack by the operating companies and local authorities. The process of prioritising these into a coherent programme for the network or a UK region such as London and the South East is weak.

      —  Railtrack's project plans for London are not funded. The Government has not set out a clear capital investment programme for National Rail.

      —  Project management: Railtrack has displayed itself as incapable of managing large infrastructure projects such as the West Coast upgrade owing to a lack of a central project management capability

    —  The Train Operating Companies (TOCs) are not financially incentivised sufficiently to make sustained improvements in performance within existing franchises. They also display evidence of distractions including:

      —  Day-to-day operational crisis management: the current franchise regime between the operating companies and Railtrack in terms of financial penalties is focused on attribution of blame

      —  Industrial relations disputes

      —  A preoccupation on franchise renewal demanding senior management time

      —  A lack of a definitive funding structure for meeting overcrowding (PIXC) targets and providing additional rolling stock

      —  Reliance on Railtrack for capacity upgrades through access charges.

      —  No proper certification process for commissioning new trains into the network.

    —  There are too many franchises to give London a consistently managed commuter operation. London's commuter services are provided by 12 franchisees.

    —  Marketing is totally fragmented and inconsistent. The financial pressures on the franchises are making fares integration extremely difficult.

  Conclusion: Without structural change to the Railtrack management structure and the specification and control of franchises serving London, it is difficult to see how performance can improve and how significant increases in service levels can be delivered.


  The Mayor's Transport Strategy requires improvements to both the quality and extent of London's rail services. In setting up TfL's organisation I requested a report designed to ensure that TfL can influence improvements to rail services within London. The active progression of major rail infrastructure schemes for the capital is also essential.

  There are ten critical areas of improvements urgently needed in the quality and quantity of commuter rail services in London. These are:

    (i)  More and better services on London's orbital rail network—including the West and North London Lines and also the dense suburban network South of the Thames, which largely complements the Underground network.

    (ii)  Improvements to the capacity of radial routes that have no or poor inner suburban services including Stratford-Lea Valley and the Chiltern routes.

    (iii)  Augmenting capacity on existing routes into London by reducing operational complexity and multiple London terminals on individual routes. Replacement of irregularly timed services and increasing train length is also essential.

    (iv)  A sensible interchange policy whereby people can change form National Rail to the Underground and between mainline routes on the approaches to London so providing access to the congested inner suburbs around central London and particularly relieving overcrowding on the Underground at London terminals such as Victoria.

    (v)  Proper fares integration. National Rail fares need to be aligned with fares on the Underground and the buses. Travelcard tickets do exist but many day fares are out of line within London.

    (vi)  Improved accessibility.

    (vii)  Unified marketing for London commuter services as opposed to separately branded rail companies.

    (viii)A code of standards on security that are actually adhered to.

    (ix)  A realistic and complementary plan for the routing of rail freight in and around London that is consistent with an increased level of passenger services.

    (x)  An immediate start on major rail projects in the form of regional metro services including the East London Line Extension, Thameslink, Crossrail and Hackney-South West.

  National Rail must be developed so that access to the regeneration areas of London is improved. A 50 per cent increase in capacity over the next ten years is required by a combination of service improvements and new projects in order to meet increased demand as a result of population growth and also to reduce overcrowding. This is complementary to the Secretary to State's overall UK requirement that franchises deliver 50 per cent more journeys.


  TfL operates one railway franchise—the Docklands Light Railway (DLR). This is now acknowledged as the most reliable rail service in the UK. Factors relevant to National Rail franchising are:

    —  The infrastructure is owned by TfL (through DLR Ltd) and major projects controlled by TfL. This includes resignalling schemes designed to upgrade capacity and reliability.

    —  TfL has invested in upgrading the railway as demand has increased—from 20m passengers p.a. in 1996 to 40m passengers p.a. in 2000-01—by provision of additional cars as a direct purchase (on value for money grounds) making them available to the franchisee. Failure to anticipate and hence meet growing demand in a major component in the accelerating difficulties with National Rail franchising so compounding Railtrack's management failure.

    —  Franchise targets apply to train running as follows:

      —  Departure (target 98 per cent). A tightly drawn target which includes completing the journey. (Short journeys, turnbacks etc, miss the target).

      —  Reliability (target 96 per cent) refers to adherence to 3-minute headway.

    —  Franchise targets have also been applied, with financial penalties to the availability of:

      —  Ticket machines

      —  Lifts

      —  Escalators

      —  Passenger Information

      —  A series of other, non-financial, targets are also measured and regularly reviewed and can be implemented by enforcement orders.

    —  Customer perception is also measured and incorporated in the franchise payment mechanism as opposed to league tables.

    —  The key success of the DLR has been the management of the franchise contract through a review structure involving the franchisee at Managing Director level. The financial incentives are part of this process.

  Conclusion: A tightly managed franchise arrangement to operate and maintain the service can work, provided the specification is clear, the infrastructure provided is in good order, and TfL retains the capability of upgrading the infrastructure to meet demand.

  A high level of involvement by the Franchisee is required on commissioning projects and absolute clarity is required regarding who holds the safety case and the associated safety management processes. Reliance on paper-based contractual safety case processes is not considered sufficient.

  These processes can be applied to National Rail franchising provided:

    —  A body exists to provide clear specification, franchise management and project upgrades.

    —  The infrastructure is competently managed, in a safe way far more associated with the operational specification and the need to increase capacity.


  In recognising that national commuter rail services provide a service within and also to and from London I contend that a balance has to be drawn between long distance rail aspirations and local commuters. The current franchise process does not reflect that approximately half of National Rail passenger journeys originate or terminate in the London area. The balance at present is largely dictated by commercial considerations where the TOCs through the franchise replacement process bid an optimum service in terms of the profit line (or net subsidy). A clear operational and project specification on what is required for London is missing.

  TfL has established a partnership with the SRA and wants to grow this partnership in terms of the train service specification input so that future franchises respond to the transport requirements of London and its hinterland. The aim must be for future franchise tenders to respond to a specific specification, which would include the timetable, integrated fares and the equipment to be used, together with a direct penalty regime on operational performance.


  The current circular arrangements whereby investment from Railtrack is funded by access charges from the franchising process (ie by Government) is now evidently flawed. Additionally the issue of prioritisation has led to ever increasing aspirations, most unfunded in Railtrack's successive network management statements.

  Railtrack's infrastructure is there to permit the provision of rail services. It should be far more closely aligned with London's overall transport requirement and the services running on it. I advocate the following changes of some significance to the current franchising structure:

    (i)  Railtrack should be divided into regions one of which should be for the London and South East region centre on London.

    (ii)  Ownership and direction of Railtrack in the London and South East Region should transfer to TfL and the SRA (representing the regional view). The operators should also participate in the ownership of Railtrack.

    (iii)  Projects would be sponsored by the recently established London Programme Committee which would manage infrastructure upgrades directly to permit the TOCs to augment their services to meet the service specification as issued by TfL and the SRA.

    (iv)  The franchise map should be further re-drawn in the London and South East Region to permit effective integration of services and the development of metro services.

    (v)  A metro franchise (or two franchises one for North and one for South of the Thames) should be created for London metro services. These should be the responsibility of TfL in conjunction with the SRA.

    (vi)  Longer distance radial franchises should be simplified both in terms of operational specification and the number of franchisees involved. These should remain the responsibility of the SRA (or any successor) in conjunction with TfL.


  Improvements are unlikely unless franchisees and Railtrack are clear about London's requirements and that they are funded on the basis of meeting these requirements. This requires organisation alignment as proposed in this submission and participation by TfL in both the franchising process and ownership and direction of Railtrack.

  TfL, in controlling other aspects of London's transport provision is well placed to ensure that commuter rail services are properly integrated into the London network and that fares and marketing are also properly integrated.

  None of these improvements will be effective unless capacity is increased and this involves the need for prioritised and properly funded project management which can only be achieved by TfL's direct involvement in the management of Railtrack. Both SRA and TfL's participation in Railtrack would take Railfreight's requirements into account. The development of Railfreight to and from London is also a priority for TfL.

  Effective delivery of major projects such as Crossrail cannot be achieved, as is evident with Thameslink 2000, by a combination of Railtrack and access charges from potential train operating companies through the franchise process. Direct project development by TfL and the SRA is envisaged for Crossrail to ensure the project meets the needs of London (through a joint TfL, SRA company).


  An effective way forward can only be achieved through proper specification both in terms of improving existing franchises and letting replacement franchises. This includes investment in value for money rolling stock—for the whole conurbation and the effective control of projects designed to provide for services upgrades.

  The mechanism for this is to establish TfL as a London Transport Authority for Commuter Rail in the same way as it is for other transport modes in London. This proposal is similar to the Passenger Transport Executives already in place in other major UK conurbations. Such transport authorities, which include responsibility for National Rail commuter or suburban services, are in place in most European and North American cities.

  To achieve this the partnership between TfL and the SRA needs to evolve so that TfL becomes the commuter rail transit authority for London, reflecting the needs of London and the South East Region. Such a body would take over the franchising of London's metro-style commuter rail services and ensure that other non-rail modes in London support increases in output from the rail system (in areas such as planning, access to stations, etc).

  TfL should control and prioritise projects on the current Railtrack Network within London and sponsor other major projects to provide additional rail capacity in London including the East London Line extension and Crossrail.

Robert R Kiley

Commission of Transport for London

16 October 2001

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 8 March 2002