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Starmer rejects Sadiq Khan’s plan to extend his grip beyond London

Sir Keir's manifesto states mayors will be restricted to overseeing 'services in their areas'
Sir Keir's manifesto states mayors will be restricted to overseeing 'services in their areas' - Leon Neal/Getty Images Europe

Labour has rejected Sadiq Khan’s bid to seize control of rail routes serving commuter towns outside of London.

In its manifesto published on Thursday, Sir Keir Starmer’s Opposition ruled out any further expansion of Transport for London (TfL), which falls under Mr Khan’s remit.

The Mayor of London, who recently secured his third term, had campaigned to expand TfL’s operations as far as Sevenoaks in Kent and Stevenage in Hertfordshire, which he said would help deliver more frequent services, improved reliability and simpler fares.

However Labour confirmed it had snubbed Mr Khan’s proposal as part of its manifesto announcement, which said mayors will be restricted to overseeing “services in their areas”.

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Instead the Opposition has laid out plans to bring the bulk of UK rail under state control, including routes outside of London that had been targeted by Mr Khan.

The manifesto confirmed plans set out by shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh in March for the creation of Great British Railways (GBR), an arms-length body that would have overall responsibility for services.

Labour says nationalisation is unlikely to lower fares but should simplify them and provide passengers with a “best-price guarantee.”

Mr Khan campaigned to expand TfL's operations as far as Sevenoaks and Stevenage
Mr Khan campaigned to expand TfL's operations as far as Sevenoaks and Stevenage - Jack Taylor/Getty Images Europe

A spokesman for Mr Khan said the mayor will “work closely with a Labour government to deliver a system that provides the service passengers deserve”.

However, the spokesman added: “The existing commuter rail lines in London are clearly not fit for purpose, with cancellations, delays and poor reliability.”

It comes after Mr Khan had hoped to run trains currently operated by Southeastern and Great Northern, which link towns across the commuter belt to stations in central London.

His proposals had represented a diluted version of a plan mooted by Boris Johnson during his time as mayor, as he has sought to extend TfL’s network across the home counties.

As for Labour’s GBR plan, this will not encroach upon Mr Khan’s TfL operations – which include the London Underground, Docklands Light Railway, London Overground and Elizabeth Line.

The latter two networks include trains operating as far as Watford and Reading.

A source close to the situation said TfL and the mayor’s office would continue to press a Labour government for the right to run more routes, especially those mostly within Greater London.