Transport Watch – March 2010

Rolling Stock 

 

Serious overcrowding and passengers being left behind at stations in the Borough cannot be allowed to continue. That was the clear message given to the Minister for Transport, Chris Mole MP by representatives of Ealing Passenger Transport Users Group when they met the Minister at the House of Commons recently. Passengers are frequently left behind at Southall and West Ealing not only in the rush hours but outside the peak times as well. There have even been instances reported to EPTUG on their message line, 020 8998 0999, of passengers left stranded at Ealing Broadway unable to board trains bound for Southall at midnight.

 

Southall’s MP, Virenda Sharma who set up and hosted the meeting added his weight to the EPTUG case reminding the Minister that several major housing developments were planned along the route and these would be completed long before the start of Crossrail in 2017. First Great Western who operate the service had been promised extra trains but following the announcement that the line to Oxford and beyond was due to be electrified the decision was reversed. At the end of the meeting the Minister promised to see what could be done but added that there was no easy solution. Further meetings between EPTUG, Virenda Sharma and the Minister are planned.

  

North London Line

 

The problem for users of the North London Line serving Acton Central and South Acton is not so much, not being able to board the train, but rather, not having a train to board, for as mentioned in this column earlier in the year the line between Gospel Oak and Stratford closed in February for long overdue repairs and improvements and will not re-open until the end of May. London Overground have endeavoured to minimise the undoubted inconvenience this has caused by running replacement bus services where no alternative bus service is available and have gone to great pains to ensure that where an alternative rail journey via other fare zones becomes necessary the passenger will not be charged an additional fare. At other times trains may run on weekdays but not on Sundays. Acton Central, on a typical weekday normally carries 4,000 passengers but this number drops to a little over a quarter on a Sunday. At South Acton the typical weekday figure of 1300 passengers falls by two thirds on Sundays so it easy to understand why Sunday is the preferred day for closure.

  

Freedom Passes

 

Transport for London say they are beginning to recover from the earlier shaky start to the renewal of Freedom Passes and confirmed that new passes are now being issued within 10 working days. All existing passes will cease to be valid at the end of March so if you have not applied to renew your pass you must do so immediately. Forms are available from any local Post Office and once completed should be handed back together with a passport size photograph, a utilities bill confirming residency and the current Freedom Pass, although the latter items will not be retained. Progress of the new pass issue can be followed by referring to the TfL website, www.tfl.gov.uk

  

Public meeting

 

The West London Tram was rejected by the people of Ealing and the party that fought for it lost the election. That was the warning message given to leaders of the four main parties by a member of the public at the recent public meeting at Ealing Town Hall when the need for a purpose built bus and train interchange at Ealing Broadway was once again raised. The meeting convened by Save Ealing Centre to discuss the future of the town centre was packed to capacity and when the question of a transport interchange was raised the capacity audience were unanimous in their support. The plan, first raised by EPTUG, was taken up by Save Ealing Centre and now has the support of all the main parties and all the prospective parliamentary candidates. But though Network Rail are supportive Transport for London are reluctant to add their support.

  

Northwick Park Hospital

 

A new consultative group has been formed to study ways of improving transport links to and from Northwick Park Hospital and the adjacent university campus. The group including transport officers from the London Borough of Harrow and the London Borough of Brent has been joined by Richard Porter, an EPTUG committee member and a long time supporter of efforts to introduce bus services into the Wood End part of the Borough.

  

Bus routes

 

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 the middle of 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.

 

Countdown

 

Countdown, the useful bus information service found at many bus stops has been in decline for some years and promises of a new more reliable system seem to be slipping further and further back. But now more information about TfL’s intentions have been made known and although extra bus stops have been earmarked for one of the new “Countdown” signs they still appear to favour the busy well used bus stops. Ealing Council officials had hoped that stops where a long wait or a choice to walk to another stop on another route might be an alternative, would benefit from the new programme but this advice appears to have been declined. If you would like to know more about the Countdown programme its all on the www.tfl.gov.uk/countdown website.

    

Chiltern Line

 

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.