Transport Watch August 2013


Passengers using the Overground’s North London Line serving South Acton and Acton Central could face disruption by strike action as TfL is determined to press ahead with plans to introduce one man operations on the line whilst the union is strongly opposed. The new trains are fitted with equipment to enable the driver to see when it is safe to move off and leaving the safety decision to the driver would also save seconds off the dwell time at each station. The line is one of the few in the London area that relies upon guards - London Underground removed guards more than 30 years ago, but the rail union says it will fight the move.


Bob Crow’s union might also be upset by the Mayor’s statement, on the 17th July, that the new rolling stock for the Piccadilly Line will be automatic driverless trains. However replacement of trains on the Piccadilly Line is not scheduled for some years ahead. The District Line though will start to see new air conditioned trains entering service within the year. The trains, similar to those on the Metropolitan Line, will have inward facing seating along the length of the carriages which are “open ended” to form one continuous carriage. Trials of the new style train have already been carried out on the Wimbledon Branch.


Bus route 482 was introduced to link Southall to Terminal 5 but its rather circuitous route makes it unpopular with local people seeking work at the Terminal. Now that route is up for review by London Buses and a more direct route, using the M4, is one of many suggestions being put forward for their consideration. If adopted this would be the first trial of a suburban express bus service promised by the Mayor in his 2008 election manifesto.


The Heathrow Express will continue after Crossrail commences services to Heathrow but for how long? The “Express” will be only 8 minutes quicker than Crossrail, will terminate at Paddington and will attract a higher fare. In the meantime a new acronym has entered the links to Heathrow vocabulary, “WRAtH”. The go ahead, in principle, has been given to provide a Western Spur rail link from just East of Langley Station to Terminal 5 where two empty platforms await it. The likely route will be contained in a tunnel but the starting points of the service has yet to be decided. Could the service then take over the Heathrow Express slots and run into Paddington?


With more and more hybrid vehicles joining the fleet, London Buses have asked bus operators to have consideration for residents trying to sleep at night and use, wherever possible, the quieter hybrid vehicles. London United are one of the first to comply by operating the 94 night service with these vehicles. However they do not yet forsee the imminent introduction of the “Boris Bus” into the Borough. Nor can we expect the return of the very silent trolley bus to London’s streets even though cities in the north may do so as an alternative to re-introducing trams.


With so much planned engineering work on the railway into Paddington between now and the start of Crossrail, First Great Western see no point introducing a Sunday service at either West Ealing or Hanwell. But Crossrail say that they are not bound by FGW’s decision and could well operate a seven days a week service. Ealing Passenger Transport Users Group will certainly keep up the pressure to make sure they do.


The proposed plans for the new Ealing Broadway Station should now be available on the  website. They show that the cluster of shops restricting access through the booking hall will go and a much wider gateline installed. The maximum use of natural light has been incorporated in the design and the many different floor levels replaced by a wide step-free atrium. Access from the booking hall to the platforms is not so well defined and there remains an ongoing discussion about the capacity of lifts to the platforms.


Plans for the other four Crossrail stations in the borough will be rolled out over the next few months and all with the possible exception of Hanwell will, say Crossrail, be fully DDA accessible. In all cases the public have just 8 weeks from publication of the draft plans to add their comments.


Looking further into the future the boroughs around Old Oak have published outline plans to make Old Oak a “City of the Future” large enough to dwarf the Canary Wharf development and creating many new jobs and homes. The plan also includes diverting the Overground to serve the proposed HS2 Station. Crossrail will build a new station adjacent to the HS2 station and it is understood that inter city trains in and out of Paddington will also make a short stop there providing links to the West Country and to Wales.


According to a reliable transport source as well as creating a new “city” to the East of Ealing, the opening of HS2 and the increase in rail capacity to the Midlands and North-West will result in 500,000 HGV movements coming off the M1, M6 and M40 and on to the rail system. That should at least leave a little bit of space for the increased commuter traffic.