Transport Watch - January 2011

 

As always the transport industry has welcomed the New Year with a round of fare increases and as usual this has led to cries of “unfair” and “unjust”. The transport operators of course say this is to enable more and more investments  to be made to the infrastructure etc but whilst the fare increases appear to be across the board, the improvements to the service appear to be less widespread.

 

In London bus and tube fares have risen yet no new services are planned for west London, and early morning and late night service frequencies are still threatened, something of great concern to EPTUG since so many of Ealing’s residents work long and unsocial hours. There is still no hope of a direct bus service from the Borough to Terminal 5, still no plan to operate “express” services along routes that are crying out for such a service, and there are still larges areas of employment such as Chiswick Park and Southall’s Brent and Bridge Roads that either have no bus service or a totally inadequate one. 

 

On the Tube, the District Line still lacks clear destination indicators and the Piccadilly Line, which with the growth in airport traffic must surely be the Capital’s most overcrowded line, is still last in line for the promised improvements.

 

The London Overground, though bedevilled with closures for engineering work does now have new rolling stock and the promise of better frequencies. Its customers also benefit from brighter stations and a greater presence of platform staff all of which has led to long overdue reductions in crime on the service. Now with more and more people beginning to use the line and its extension south of the river attracting new customers, the one time Cinderella Line from Richmond through Acton is now beginning to show what benefits in rail investment can bring.

 

Sadly in the north of the Borough, the Chiltern Line is not bringing any new benefits to its users. Frequencies remain “infrequencies” and their idea of late night or a week end service seems still to be lost on the operator whose only concern appears to boost traffic to the shires and beyond.

 

But the real losers in the Borough must be the Southall commuters whose monthly season tickets to Paddington have risen from £96.00  to £102.60, a rise of well over 6% yet they will have to wait until 2018 before any extra carriages will be provided. Over 8 out of every 10 early morning commuters told EPTUG that they “occasionally”  or “frequently” could not get on to the train of their first choice let alone find a seat. Overcrowding and passengers being stranded on the route now persists through the day and now members of the British Transport Police regularly patrol the late night trains to prevent frustrated passengers causing problems.

 

First Great Western are of course well aware of the overcrowding problem but they are powerless to resolve it since it is the Department for Transport that must sanction the acquisition of extra rolling stock. They have petitioned the government many times and continue to do so but of course without the active and vocal support of MPs along the line nothing will get done. So come on Virenda Sharma, Stephen Pound and Angie Bray, lets hear questions in the House, lets make solving the overcrowding problem your 2011 New Year resolution. MPs from other areas have shouted about their passengers not getting a seat and with much success but your constituents can’t even board the train.

 

On the 19th January the Mayor of London will be at Greenford Hall to hear council tax payers views on transport in the capital. It will be your opportunity to ask questions about any aspect of. Transport across the whole of London not just Ealing. The meeting starts at 7.00pm and is timed to finish at 8.30. Admission is free but you must obtain a ticket in order to attend. Details can be found on www.london.gov.uk/assembly .

 

London Buses plan to withdraw route PR2 and modify routes 79, 206, 223 and 224 to better cover the area served by these routes in the Park Royal area. Details of the proposals are shown here. If you are a user of these routes, your comments will be welcome,

 

EPTUG, Ealing Passenger Transport Users Group, went public on the 9th January, 2001, and in the ten years since its launch it has achieved several minor victories such as the provision of bus shelters where needed, and the relocation of bus stops to improve convenience to passengers. It has kept a watchful eye on proposed changes to routes and frequencies, not always successfully, but had EPTUG not been around would we have seen more economies than we have? On a different level our fund of knowledge and expertise has enabled us to advise and question the decision makers. Notably we were able to see through the web of lies, damned lies and statistics that the promoters of the West London Tram perpetuated, and in the end they agreed with us.

 

By contrast and more recently we have highlighted the potential problems which Crossrail might bring and have ensured that the planners build these concerns into their plans and we have been encouraged by their co-operative responses.

 

But EPTUG’s small team of volunteers could not be so well informed if its members and other transport users did not report their concerns or their suggestions. You, the passengers, are EPTUG’s eyes and ears and  we would like to express our appreciation to all those who have left word on the message line, 020 8998 0999, or the web site, www.eptug.org.uk

 

One of EPTUG’s earliest challenges was to get a reliable information service at bus stops and stations. London Buses' continued failure to install a modern version of Countdown at all bus stops brings shame to the Capital which once led the country in this field but which now lags sadly behind almost all provincial cities. Rail fares little better for every year that passes has given rise to promises of an imminent upgrade. But now that oft repeated promise could become a reality. FGW are installing new signs, the engineers starting at Pangbourne and now believed to be nearing West Drayton en route to Acton Mainline and Paddington.

 

In the meantime Network Rail have removed station clocks from several stations. Once again, a new state of the art system has been promised, but not to be caught out again by promises of “soon”, Mal Thurman, FGW’s man on the spot has purchased 4 traditional clocks which he hopes to install for the benefit of passengers.