Rail services in south London are straining under the pressure of passenger numbers and infrastructure demands and should be taken over by Transport for London, according to a think tank report .

In contrast to the success of the popular London Overground – predominantly in north of the river – franchises such as South Eastern, South Western, Southern and Thameslink provoke ire among commuters with overcrowding and delays.

Read more: £320m programme to lengthen Overground trains complete

The problems have been accentuated by the London Bridge works which have added to frustrations. The network of suburban operators, some more responsive than others to crises, has made solutions to the pinch point harder to co-ordinate.

The Centre For London says rail franchises are “not delivering” and there is an impending crisis of capacity and has called on the Department for Transport to make the network part of TfL’s London Overground when current franchises expire.

Current rail providers in south London

  • South Eastern: Southeastern (Govia): franchise expires 2018.
  • South Western: South West Trains (Stagecoach): franchise expires 2017.
  • Thameslink, Southern: Govia Thameslink Railway (Govia): franchise expires 2021.

London Mayor Boris Johnson welcomed the idea, saying: “London deserves even more metro-style rail services but the Rail Delivery Group said the current system produced some of “the best passenger satisfaction levels”.

Ben Rogers, director of the Centre for London, said converting lines to the Overground “would help close the capacity gap, as well as stimulate major housing development around stations”.

A London Overground train

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said: “The rail industry is ready to work with national and local government to deliver even better rail services that meet the needs of commuters.”

In the report, Turning South London Orange, which was supported by Canary Wharf Group and Greenwich Borough Council, the CfL argues that upgrading south London’s rail network into Overground would:

  • Potentially deliver the full 100% increase in capacity required by 2050.
  • Cost an estimated £10billion to £15billion to deliver over 25 years.
  • Support the development of 16,000 new homes in south central London alone.
  • Support employment growth: between 2025 and 2035 34,000 new jobs will be created within 1km of potential Overground stations.

Southeastern news: Replacement bus service is running on Southeastern between Lewisham and Dartford due to continuing problems with a landslide as Barnehurst.

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