Transport Watch – May 2010
Perhaps by the time you read this we might
have a better idea who will be controlling our destinies both from number 10
and our local Town Hall but it will be some weeks later before we know exactly
how the new government will address the important topic of public transport.
The suggestion made during the run up to the election that Crossrail may be
cancelled or curtailed came as a major shock for it is a project that has all-party support at both local and national level. Station improvements, already
long overdue, were, we were told, going to be addressed
“when Crossrail comes”. But if Crossrail hangs in the balance then we must
expect local politicians to demand that improvements, especially disabled
access, must be addressed regardless.
Running Crossrail to Heathrow and no
further will not help local people who find travel to the airport by bus, tube
or even taxi both simpler, cheaper and quicker. It will mean that the many
local people wishing to travel between the Borough and the Thames Valley
will suffer a reduced service and probably a change of train too. The users of
the Greenford Line will be particularly worse off with their trains terminating
at West Ealing to enable handfuls of east
Londoners to get to Heathrow in comfort.
Meanwhile to the east of London, the London Overground
has started running services on the former East London Underground Line and
already in Dalston and along the new line there are
signs of regeneration blossoming forth. At the moment trains run Monday to
Friday (08.00-20.00) terminating at New Cross or New Cross Gate but by the end of the month a full
service through to Crystal Palace and East Croydon will operate seven days a week.
Elsewhere on the London Overground work continues a
pace to link the North London Line, serving Acton Central and South Acton, via
the new station at Dalston
Junction providing simpler ways for
Ealing residents to reach south London.
The controversy surrounding plans to reduce
the number of hours many station ticket offices open continues. Unions are of
course opposed but passengers appear to be quite apathetic about the issue.
Ealing Passenger Transport Users Group would like to see staff redeployed to
the more visible position, on the station platforms, and has reminded LUL that
this plan, when carried out on the North London Line, led to a 40% reduction in
reported crime on the line. However it is widely felt that booking office staff
displaced by the plans will not be redeployed in this way.
Members and guests who attended the recent
talk at Ealing Town Hall by Tim Bellenger
about the sterling work done by London TravelWatch
will realise how important this passengers' voice is.
But now the Greater London Assembly who finance this
vital work is asking travellers for their views about TravelWatch.
Could it be that they want to give this consumer watch dog more teeth, more
researchers, more case workers or are they seeking reduced powers, lower
funding and a changed, less effective role. Whatever their reasons it is
important to know your opinion especially as we now seem to be entering a
period of reduced investment in our railways and local bus services. Please
write to EPTUG at 3 Gordon
Road, W5 2AD.
Malachy McGirr has the unenviable task of
managing Chiltern's stations from Gerrards Cross to
Wembley. He is concerned that the perspex roof over
the staircase at the poorly served Sudbury
and Harrow Road Station is causing undesirables and others to congregate there
and adding to the litter problem that we are all too aware of. Would removing
the roof, and thus the only shelter, reduce this problem or simply create a
bigger problem. Tell EPTUG what you would do in his place by writing to EPTUG
at 3 Gordon Road, W5 2AD.
Christmas comes but once a year – and so
does Vaisakhi, but whilst London Buses plan for
Christmas and other Bank Holidays, Vaisakhi and other
festivals celebrated in Southall always catches them out and the result for
travellers in the Southall area is chaos. This year’s parade through the centre
of Southall was the biggest yet and spectators and celebrants from across Europe were attracted to the town. Brightly coloured food
stalls lined the roads in the town and a procession of coloured floats
proceeded through the towns streets. But instead of laying
on extra buses to bring people to the town, they abandoned it. Some drivers
followed unadvertised diversionary routes round the town whilst others simply
abandoned all thoughts of proceeding and turned round leaving their passengers
stranded. EPTUG received calls from passengers who had waited over an hour for
a bus that never came and early morning workers trying to return home from
Heathrow were left marooned and without information.
Ealing Passenger Transport Users Group is
determined to see that the residents in the west of the Borough do not suffer
in this way again and they are demanding a round table meeting with London
Buses, local councillors, gurdwaras and other
interested parties to resolve the issue. If you were affected by the bus
network chaos or would like to join the consultations than please let EPTUG
know by ringing 020 8998 0999.
London taxi fares were increased on the 10th April but it takes time to
reconfigure all taxi meters immediately. TfL, who now
control taxis in London, insist that all meters
must be re-set and showing the correct fares by the 9th May, So if after that date a London cabbie is trying to add something extra on to the
metered figure then he probably isn’t a genuine London cabbie.
The Mayor of London is determined to reduce
the subsidy paid to London Buses even though the capital’s bus fares are
amongst the highest in Europe. A further rise
in fares to be introduced midway through the year has not been ruled out but
now seems unlikely, whilst other measures, such as reducing night services and
some early morning services still seems a distinct possibility. The
replacement, open-platformed, Routemaster
may be abandoned even though the prototype is already being built in Northern Ireland, and the much maligned bendi-bus may continue in service on London’s roads for some considerable time
Our local railways are also feeling the
pinch and all of them are offering some special bargains to win customers over
the summer. Chiltern offer fares to Birmingham
well below those charged on other lines and reaching there is simple without
the need to go into Marylebone. First Great Western offer their customers free
bus travel in Bristol and a range of special offers to the West Country resorts
(St Ives £15 single, Bath £.9.50), and South West Trains are trying to also
tempt us with similar offers to the South Coast towns. All these details can be
found on the various company websites.