Travel Watch             April 2012

 

Passengers using Ealing’s local stations are rising and rising fast. That news may not surprise anyone who users the trains regularly. Figures released by the Office of the Rail Regulator, (ORR), in March show Ealing Broadway’s FGW passengers exceeded 4.65 million whilst at Southall a record 1.9 million passengers used the service. Yet these figures do not include users of Freedom Passes and Travelcard usage is based on outdated figures. The Greenford Branch, which is still threatened with termination at West Ealing and not Paddington, showed some remarkable increases over 2006/7. A 39% increase at Greenford and a remarkable 124% growth at South Greenford.

 

Paddington Station now handles over 32 million passengers a massive 10% increase over the previous recorded year, (2009/10). That puts it way ahead of the recently extended and vastly improved Kings Cross Station, 26 million, but way behind London’s busiest station, Waterloo with almost 92 million passengers.

 

The Tube has also released passenger figures but these are more difficult to follow. However they do reveal that Ealing Broadway’s figures patronage exceeds the combined total of the Boroughs next 3 busiest stations, (Acton Town, North Acton and Ealing Common). Ealing Broadway’s combined figures make it one of suburban London’s busiest stations so the news and guarantee, secured recently by Ealing and Acton MP, Angie Bray, that Network Rail will carry out improvement work at the station is most timely.

 

Passenger numbers are also rising on other rail services and frequently intending City bound passengers at South Ealing find it difficult to board Piccadilly Line trains already full of Heathrow passengers and their luggage. Yet experience has shown that few passengers use the Heathrow Connect service. EPTUG have asked Heathrow Connect to reconsider their fare charging policy and to bring it more into line with TfL’s fare zones and Oyster acceptance. Heathrow Connect have promised a reply shortly.

 

But EPTUG’s attention is also turning to users of the Chiltern Line which has recently suffered poor reliability as the company strives to provide a better service to its long distance customers. The limited service between the Sudburys and Marylebone has never been good and Northolt Park fares little better, but the draft time table for May shows major cuts to local trains, the service from Northolt Park falling to one train per hour through the day. Users must raise their objections to the cuts immediately. They should also study the Chiltern compensation policy, of a 5% discount, where service and reliability fails.

 

The Mayoral Election is but a month away and so EPTUG has been busy writing to the principal candidates asking them to look favourably on public transport in the Capital when compiling their manifestos. Requests include a freeze on fares, the introduction of a time capped fare to enable a change of bus whilst avoiding a second fare, the introduction of new bus routes and support for more limited stop services which, based on our experience of the 607 route, would be welcomed by passengers and provide a more efficient use of drivers and vehicles. Fares have risen by 55% in recent years without any new routes being introduced and with few improved frequency of service. We have also asked that work to provide lifts at more Underground stations should be re-started.

 

Two splendid new designs for Oyster Cards are being launched by TfL and they are sure to prove popular with locals and tourist alike. The first, celebrating London 2012, has a colourful drawing of Buckingham Palace with children from many countries adding charm and interest whilst the other, to mark the Queen’s Jubilee, carries a most charming picture of the smiling Queen. Many will be collected but never used adding to the recently revealed surplus of around £55m unused Oyster Card monies tucked away in TfL’s coffers. Surely that’s enough money to restart the lift installations at Greenford and Shepherd’s Bush.

 

Funding for 70 more hybrid buses has been found, a welcome boost but still falling short of the promised number. It is not known where the buses will operate, though Stratford and East London are thought to be favourites even though Wembley will also host Olympic events and we do have some of London’s most polluted roads. However West London might also miss out on the new Boris inspired double deck vehicle which, if Boris is not re-elected, seems doomed to pass quickly into London’s history books.

 

Have you ever wished you could change the look of your local station? Many country stations are adopted by “Friends” who work with the train companies to improve the friendliness of the station and make it more welcoming. Now First Great Western and EPTUG are introducing the idea to an urban station, Hanwell. Would you like to know more about the plan or would you like to volunteer to be part of the  Friends of Hanwell Station”?  If so please leave a message on the EPTUG message line 020 8998 0999.