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New London freesheet to rival Metro?

A new, free 24-hour newspaper could be launched in London to rival Metro.

Press reports say News International could be about to make a move on the territory occupied by Associated Newspapers.

It is believed News International is already in talks with Railtrack, which could mean the new paper would be distributed at main railway stations in the capital.

It would be in direct competition with the Metro newspapers, already available to commuters, and the London Evening Standard, also owned by Associated Newspapers.

Metro’s contract with Railtrack will soon be up for renewal and could end up in the hands of its competitor, which owns The Times and The Sun.

The company has made no comment on the weekend reports, which suggested regional editions could be distributed in other major UK cities.

Metro has a circulation of some 800,000 and is already regionalised.

The new project is thought to have come personally from proprietor Rupert Murdoch, who has dreams of a 24-hour, middle-market free newspaper.

He hopes it would steal classified advertising from the market dominated by the Evening Standard by distributing to commuters, then updating and circulating new editions in the afternoon and evening.

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