FEAR of crime is among the key reasons Harrow residents have given for not using the North London railway network more often.

Latest figures show almost a quarter of passengers questioned said they would use the Silverlink Metro services more if they did not think it was dangerous.

Other reasons for not using the service included unreliability - 45% of passengers feel they cannot rely on the service.

But Transport for London (TfL), which is taking over the whole network, has pledged to put things right.

Silverlink Metro has run the line since 1996, but its contract ends next month, and from November 11, TfL will be in control of the whole network, including three stations, in Ealing, which will become known as London Overground.

TfL insists passengers using the line will see immediate changes, such as staff on all stations and Oyster card facilities.

Longer term plans include CCTV on all stations, better lighting, new air-conditioned trains and a higher-frequency service.

Ian Brown of TfL said: "We and the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, are bringing a proper 21st Century railway to 20 of London's 33 boroughs with new, air-conditioned trains, more secure stations and a policy which puts passengers first at all times.

"However, I would also ask passengers for their patience. The North London Line is suffering from decades of under-investment, and we have a lot of work ahead of us to rectify that neglect. Please bear with us while we turn the railway into an asset Harrow residents will be proud of."

By 2010, the London Overground network will be extended to include an arm running as far as West Croydon.