Transport Watch – February 2010


A huge disappointment was the kindest way of describing how the delegation from Ealing Passenger Transport Users Group felt when, having arrived at the House of Commons to meet the Transport Minister, Chris Mole, on Monday they were told that the meeting could not take place. The EPTUG team had waited many weeks for the meeting arranged by Southall MP Virenda Sharma but on arriving at the House they were told that through unforeseen events Virenda could not be present and in accordance with parliamentary protocol the meeting could not therefore take place.


Had the meeting gone ahead the Minister would have been told that the overcrowding on FGW’s services into and out of Paddington was totally unacceptable and the decision to cancel the allocation of 40 extra vehicles to serve local needs showed contempt for Ealing Borough’s commuters. The promise, made in the Summer of 2009, was for 40 extra vehicles to be delivered in 2011 but this was retracted a few weeks later when the decision to electrify the line in 2017 was announced. EPTUG’s representatives were planning to tell the Minister that the notion of waiting until 2017 for more capacity was not an option. Relief was needed now.


EPTUG is now trying to have the meeting re-arranged without delay for unless the order can be re-instated by mid March no decision will be made until after the election. There is a delivery time of around two years between placing the order and the building, delivery and testing of new rolling stock making 2013 the earliest date for their introduction into service. In the meantime the provision of 1300 homes already under construction in Hayes Town as well as developments scheduled for central Ealing and the Southall Gas Works site will mean increasing misery for those trying to board at Southall and West Ealing, two stations were passengers are regularly left behind.


Perhaps users of the overcrowded line would care to send their comments and their stories about travel on the new misery line to the Gazette.


If you have not applied to renew your Freedom Pass then you have probably now missed the boat. Surnames P to Z, the last tranche were supposed to have handed in their forms and a photo by the 6th February. Fortunately TfL know just how busy the over 60s can be and they have allocated a further week for the forgetful and the busy to get there renewal application in to the local Post Office.


Incidentally TfL said allow 10 working days to process the application but already delays are setting in. You can of course follow the progress of your renewal if you have access to a computer, or if you are one of those who think that “email” is Yorkshire for, “the postmans just put letters through the door”, simply ask a youngster to look it up for you.


The possibility of Ealing getting a long overdue bus/train interchange at Ealing Broadway took a minor step forward at the recent Crossrail Scrutiny Committee meeting when councillors joined the packed public gallery in telling representatives from TfL and National Rail that nothing less than a traffic free interchange was required. It also transpired that Transport for London and the London Borough of Wandsworth, undaunted by the recession, had recently agreed to co-fund a £1.5 million enhancement at Clapham Junction.    


Ealing Passenger Transport Users Group has been asked to join a combined London Borough of Harrow and L B of Brent initiative to provide better bus links to and from Northwick Park Hospital complex. Many residents in the north of the Borough regularly use the hospital’s services and many residents attend the adjacent university complex. At present many journeys involve at least one change of bus.


London Buses are asking for your comments on one or two local bus routes. They are the 224, and the PR2. Though suggestions are needed by early March any changes will not come into effect until October 2011, (Route 224), or March 2012, (Route PR2). Comments are also required in respect of the “schools” service, 696, though it will be 2012 before any change adopted will be introduced. If you do have comments to make please drop a line to EPTUG’s bus route expert, John Gashion at EPTUG, 3 Gordon Road, W5 2AD.


The lack of time to consider and report back on ways to improve bus routes has been a bone of contention for some time so it has come as a pleasant surprise to be told that we might be asked for comments on two important Ealing routes in advance. The two routes where advance notice has been given are the 27 and the E10 so please, if you have comments on either of these services please drop us a line as soon as you can.


The wheels of railway planning move very slowly but when they do start to roll they move with power and certainty. The Chiltern Line passing through Northolt and the Sudbury’s is now coming under the planners eye and there are many new ideas being submitted which could if adopted push the local services into a very overgrown siding. Plans exist to introduce new services from Marylebone to Oxford and to Aberystwyth whilst at the same time providing faster services to Birmingham. If you share EPTUG’s concern that local commuter services will suffer if these new services are allowed then please share those concerns with EPTUG before it is too late.


Should teenagers pay a nominal 20p or 50p fare when travelling on London’s Buses? Would this help reduce London Buses spiralling deficit or at least stop healthy fit youngsters crowding on to buses and travelling one or two stops at the end of a school day. Or should the Freedom Pass be once again limited to off peak times? These are two of the ideas being considered by transport planners keen to see the cost of London’s bus network to rate payers reduced. Other ideas include further cuts to early morning and late night services, (clearly the planners do not work shifts), and to the abolition of many night service buses. Perhaps if you have other ideas you could ring EPTUG’s message line 

                    020 8998 0999.