Watch this space on rail devolution, says Khan

Sadiq Khan pictured close up in Downing Street
Sadiq Khan says the government's devolution offer is "transformative" [Reuters]

Commuter rail services in the capital currently managed by private companies could come under Transport for London's (TfL) control, Sadiq Khan has said.

He was speaking after a meeting with Prime Minister Keir Starmer and England's 11 other regional mayors in Downing Street on "a major programme of devolution".

The mayor said they also discussed devolving more powers over skills and training, as well as additional funding.

During the election, Labour pledged it would renationalise nearly all passenger rail services in England within five years - a pledge the Conservatives said was "unfunded".

Under their plan, a new public body would inherit existing contracts with private operators when they expire, taking on responsibility for running services.

Mr Khan said: "One of the things that was confirmed from the meeting this morning is once those franchises end and are brought into [Department for Transport control], they will be talking to mayors like me about which of those railways we can take over.

"I’ll be lobbying for once those franchises end, those commuter trains that come into London for us to have that."

"Watch this space," he added.

Trains at Charing Cross station platforms
Many commuter rail routes in London are run by private operators [ EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock]

While TfL runs the majority of public transport services within the capital, Network Rail routes are operated by private firms, including Thameslink and Southern.

It would not be the first time suburban rail services came under the direct control of TfL and a London mayor.

Ken Livingstone grabbed the failing Silverlink franchise and turned it into the Overground, while Boris Johnson took over West Anglia.

Mr Khan said that while the end of the franchises remains "some years away", he would lobby the government for the resources to take them on once it happens.

"What I wouldn’t do because it would be letting down Londoners is take on these additional lines without additional resources because they need some investment, they have been neglected for too long," he said.

During the election campaign, then-Conservative transport secretary Mark Harper claimed Labour's renationalisation plans were unfunded.

"You're going to go back to French-style wildcat strikes with no notice," he said.

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said the government would deliver "the biggest overhaul to our railways in a generation" and create a "publicly-owned, passenger focused Great British Railways".

"Under our plans for publicly-owned passenger rail, as franchises expire, they will come under Great British Railways’ control," they added.

England's metro mayors in group photo outside 10 Downing Street
Sadiq Khan joined the rest of England's regional mayors to meet the prime minister [Reuters]

On broader plans for devolution, Mr Khan called the new Labour government's pitch to the mayors "transformative".

Nevertheless, no definitive plans on what additional powers will be given to the London mayor or other regions has been confirmed.

Mr Khan added: "What’s clear from listening to Angela Rayner and Keir Starmer today is they are really keen to devolve more powers not just to London but to other parts of the country.

"You will be hearing in the course of the next few weeks and months examples of those additional powers."

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