Transport Watch – July 2010

 

So it looks as though Crossrail’s future has been confirmed and the work that has already started on many sites can continue apace. Crossrail’s future may now be assured but still no decision yet about the planned electrification of the line between Paddington and Bristol and Swansea. So it will be 2017 before Ealing gains any real benefits from any improved service and in the meantime, overcrowding and lack of station facilities are set to continue much longer.  Needless to say there is still no news about improved bus/train interchanges at Ealing Broadway and Southall Stations, projects with local all-party support.

 

No firm decision appears to have been taken about HS2, the proposed high speed rail line linking London to Birmingham with future potential for links to the north west and Scotland. If the project does go ahead as proposed, a new major station will be created at Old Oak with a new Crossrail station and a planned high speed link to Heathrow. Importantly for Ealing it could be a major driver in the regeneration of the area to the east of the borough.

 

After many years of hard negotiation the 120 bus service from Northolt to Hounslow through Southall is to see an improved service. Now from the 4th of September, weekday morning peaks will see the existing bus every 10 minutes service improved to a bus every 7 to 8 minutes. The evening peak service of a bus every 10 minutes will improve to one every 9 minutes but as the evening progresses the existing three buses an hour frequency will improve to four buses an hour, something which will greatly benefit the route’s many Southall passengers who work well into the evening.  On Sundays, when Southall’s tourist, shopping and religious traffic rises sharply, the 3 bus per hour frequency of service improves to 4 buses per hour.

 

The Hammersmith to Edgware Road Line will close on 24th July to enable major works, many of them centred at Paddington, to be carried out. Until the 16th August Hammersmith and City trains will terminate at Edgware Road  and not serve Paddington, but the Circle Line trains will resort to their former route making it unnecessary to change trains at Edgware Road. The work at Paddington includes the removal of the former taxi access bridge and enables the “dark, sinister” side of the station used by local FGW services to be radically improved. Network Rail’s contractors have already started much of the work, skilfully avoiding the day to day needs of a busy working station. 

 

Marylebone, the London terminus for Northolt Park and the Sudbury passengers, is also undergoing a transformation and completion of the project is scheduled for completion in December. Marylebone’s roof, though perhaps lacking the nostalgia of Brunel’s Paddington or the beloved by Betjeman, St Pancras roof, does give the terminal a bright and airy look. One feature of the station modernisation programme which will be widely appreciated is the simple installation of an overhead gantry at the exit gates clearly indicating which gate is open for entry and which for exiting passengers, a stark contrast to the guesswork that exists at other mainline stations.

 

There is more good news from Chiltern, but also some less good news. Punctuality reached an annual score of 95.25 ahead of the target figure of 95.17 set by the rail regulator. They have also received the first of their new trains and this is undergoing trials and driver training. On the negative side we understand that the draft May 2011 timetable shows no improvement to services to the Sudburys and still no weekend service to either station. If you live in the north of the Borough, would you use the service if it was improved? EPTUG would be interested in hearing from you. Please drop a line to EPTUG at 3 Gordon Road, W5 2AD or via the EPTUG website or the message line 020 8998 0999.

 

Heathrow Connect’s direct service to Terminal 4 at Heathrow has quietly been dropped and replaced by a service terminating at Heathrow Central, (for Terminals 1 and 3). A shuttle service, with a same platform change, is provided for Terminal 4 passengers and a similar need to change trains has always been necessary for Terminal 5 passengers. Running Connect trains right through to Terminal 4 made keeping to a strict timetable very difficult and in an industry where punctuality is judged by everyone from waiting passenger on station platform right up to the Minister of Transport himself, the move to terminate Connect trains at Heathrow Central was considered to be a very prudent one.  However using the time saved could, EPTUG thinks, with a minor tinkering of the schedules, enable a stop at Acton Mainline to be introduced.

 

Londoners, it seems, are getting more forgetful and the number of items handed in to TfL’s Lost Property Office has risen to a record level. Last year a staggering 38,142 books were handed in along with 20,752 telephones, and 8618 umbrellas. Perhaps even more amazing is the fact that these items could be found amidst the discarded newspapers, empty drink cans and half eaten take-a-way foods our fellow travellers leave behind them.

 

If you are planning to go to the Greenford Carnival please do take time to visit the EPTUG stall and tell us what is good and what is bad with transport in the area. We know the Greenford to Paddington service will terminate at West Ealing soon but how will this affect you? We know buses terminate en masse at Greenford Broadway, but are there better ideas? We know that when there is a major festival in Southall, London Buses seemingly abandon all thoughts of a service through the town, but how does this affect your journey to work? Calling at the stand could be a very simple way of passing on your local knowledge to a team willing to follow through with actions.   

 

Following the TfL takeover of PPP plans, Amey, owned by Ferrovial, will continue to provide management and maintenance on the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly Lines, But the company warns that some plans may be delayed and the Piccadilly Line, already last in priority, may suffer as a consequence. Meanwhile London Underground are anxious to tell us how the Underground across London is being improved and a showcase exhibition illustrating their plans for the Tube is being held at the former Aldwych Station in Surrey St, WC2. The exhibition, open from 10.00am to 7.00pm, closes on the 9th July.

 

Inevitably, following the change of government at both national and local level, we can expect a change of policies affecting local transport. Already newly elected MP Angie Bray has called together stakeholders to discuss the redevelopment of Ealing Broadway in the light of information now known to her, whilst at local level Cllr Julian Bell is busy forming committees and drafting in expertise to oversee and implement future council policies. It is therefore an ideal time to make your comments and your wish list known. Please forward your ideas on transport issues to your MP or your local councillor but please be sure to copy those ideas to EPTUG and to the letters page of this newspaper.