Transport Watch – March 2014

 

Excitement mounted when, on the 26th February, London Buses announced, “the world’s first health action plan”. So had they reacted to the pan-London concerns and re-jigged the bus network to enable patients and others to reach the re-allocated hospital on public transport? Sadly, no! The plan was designed to encourage more people to walk and cycle, something which above-inflation fare increases has been quietly doing for years.

 

Many Ealing residents may have to go to hospitals outside the borough if the NHS re-organisation plans go ahead but London Buses have told the council that funding is not available to alter or extend routes unless a sound economic case can be made. EPTUG feels strongly that if it becomes necessary for a patient to be transferred out of his borough then proper public transport must be provided for both patients and their visitors. New or amended bus routes in London takes years of planning so please, if you may be affected by the NHS proposals do please write to the Gazette now.

 

First Great Western have apologised for the appalling level of service following the recent floods that occurred between Maidenhead and Reading. Water flooded the line causing the electrically controlled signalling to fail.  Sadly for local commuters, when this happened most of the rolling stock was stuck in the maintenance yards in Reading, west of the flood, whilst their passengers were cramming the platforms to the east of the flood. To their credit, once EPTUG had alerted FGW’s management  to the fact that only one three coach train per hour was serving the local commuters, urgent actions to remedy the situation were taken.

 

When there was a change of government London held it’s breathe and wondered if Crossrail would survive the cuts in government spending. But we were assured that the Crossrail Project was safe and that there would be no cutback in investment. Now it seems that the promise to retain the same level of investment may be lacking. Plans for the modernisation of Ealing Broadway Station have, as we now know, been cut back and we have yet to hear about the other four Crossrail Stations in the borough suggesting that as the deadlines approach we will be given a take it or leave it design of Crossrail’s choosing.

 

Now we hear that the ten coach Crossrail trains we were promised will now be just nine “walk through” coaches with three doors on each carriage side. The “walk through” facility will allow more standing passengers so, say Crossrail, capacity will not be reduced. However it will certainly mean fewer seated passengers. Reducing the length of the trains does of course reduce the length of extending platforms.

 

Perhaps part of the answer lies in the fact that the Civil Aviation Authority has cut its contribution to the Crossrail project by £230m though no explanation for this cut has been made known.

 

London Underground have invited tenders to design, build and supply new tube trains for the Bakerloo, Central and Piccadilly Lines. The trains, dubbed the the New Tube for London, will be air conditioned “walk through” trains with automatic controls avoiding the need for a driver. Delivery however is not expected until 2025 but once in operation a 33 trains per hour service, increasing capacity by 60% is promised.

 

The now successful London Overground serving Acton Central and South Acton slipped a little in the National Rail “Right Time” survey but still ranked third beaten only by Chiltern and Arriva Wales. London Overground is now attracting more and more passengers leading to a more frequent service and the use of 5 coach trains.

 

By 2025 commuting from the south of the borough to central London could take a more leisurely route if the GLA’s Rivers and Waterway Committee gets its way. They hope to persuade Hounslow Council and a local developer to construct a new landing stage at Brentford which would be served by the riverboat service. Last year a record 8.5 million passengers used the service and now work is in hand to extend 3 central London piers and construct 5 new piers. Prior to the coming of the GWR and the line to Paddington the river boat was of course a popular way of going to town.

 

Residents in the north of the borough have a speedy service into Marylebone on the edge of London’s major shopping centre. Or at least they would if Chiltern stopped at our local stations instead of rushing through non stop, and the situation is likely to get worst once Chiltern Railways open their new direct service to Oxford in a year or two. So with this in mind EPTUG is trying to raise awareness with councils alone the line and would welcome your support if you are one of the many who would benefit from a better local Chiltern service. Please email your support to info@eptug.org.uk.