Transport Watch – November 2009

 

There’s a bit of a mystery building up over what can and cannot be done to improve Hanwell Station. The existing station is largely as Brunel designed and built it and so, along with other original parts of Brunel’s London to Bristol Railway it forms part of a World Heritage Site and is jealously guarded as such by English Heritage. Over and over again the railway authorities, Crossrail, Ealing Council and even EPTUG have been told that nothing can be done to change the station. As a result Crossrail have been forced to abandon plans to extend the platforms needed to accommodate their longer trains and instead introduce a less attractive option of selective door opening when its commences services in 2017. But now in a recent letter to a local resident the Chief Executive of English Heritage has said they have no objection to extending the platforms, nor to making the station accessible to disabled travellers.

 

Is this correct? English Heritage have been asked. “Well yes”, came a hesitant reply from a member of the English Heritage staff, “so long as the changes are in keeping with and sympathetic to the original design”. Could this be a change of policy by English Heritage or an attempt to back track on a hasty mis-informed decision? The promised letter to clarify the position is still awaited, and can anyone design and build Victorian passenger lifts to the platform level.

 

Hurry, hurry, hurry. You have less than two weeks to make suggestions how to improve routes 95, 105, 140, and H17. Suggestions such as what vehicle type, what  frequency of service outside peak times and minor changes to the route can be made, but you need to be quick. Consultation stops on the 17th November. No further communications are entered into until a month or so before the changes, if any, are made. And any revisions will that are made will take effect from the summer of 2011 and set the pattern of service for the following 5 to 7 years.

 

Chiltern Railways have released details of their timetable changes effective from December and they bring little cheer to local users. EPTUG are hoping to display the revised time table on their website. Chiltern have recently announced that they have taken over full responsibility for the services of the Wrexham & Shropshire Railway Company perhaps indicating what type of service they prefer to accommodate and the London commuter services through Ealing are not the favourite.

  

London Buses have at last conceded that the design of the handrail on the stairs of the new Scania double deck vehicles, similar to those being introduced on routes 65 and H32, needs to be redesigned. Several passengers have complained to TfL and EPTUG that coats and bags can get caught on the rail as they attempt to leave the vehicles but up to now London Buses have stubbornly denied that this can happen, claiming that they work closely with the manufacturers to ensure best design. (In last month’s column it was reported that building buses to the “London design” adds substantially to their cost).

 

Plans to install a lift at Greenford Station have been deferred because of budgetary constraints and London Underground cannot give any indication when plans will go ahead. EPTUG plans to object strongly to this decision since Greenford Station is served by several major bus routes including two which terminate there. The station has seen increasing use since the opening of Westfields and will in the future provide an important link to Crossrail at West Ealing. None of the neighbouring Central Line stations provide access for wheelchair users or mothers with pushchairs. If the decision to defer installation of a lift detracts from your travel plans please let EPTUG know by writing to them c/o 3 Gordon Road W5 2AD.

 

London Buses have refused to make any changes to the route of night service route N11 which some months ago was diverted from West Ealing to follow night service routes N207 and 83 along the Uxbridge Road to Ealing Broadway. Suggestions have been made to re-route the service to Greenford or towards Northolt rather than duplicate other services but these suggestions have been turned down. No reasons have been given.

 

Kensington & Chelsea Council are pressing Crossrail to build a new station in the Kensal/Old Oak Common area whilst Hammersmith and Fulham Council are also pressing for a station on a nearby site. Both councils have plans to regenerate the areas and see the provision of a Crossrail station as key to those plans. The 67 acre Kensal site includes the former Eurostar North Pole site. Crossrail have so far remained silent on the matter but the proposal does open up the opportunity to provide an interchange to the West London Line linking Willesden and Clapham Junction stations. But could this new station, if approved, see the demise of Acton Main Line Station?

 

Following a recent on site visit by members of Ealing Council it is thought likely that the Council will ask that the south exit at Hanwell Station be re-opened. This would provide access to Station Approach enabling a bus service to Ealing Hospital, the Windmill Estate and the Armstrong Way Trading Estate to be provided, It is also thought that the additional traffic created by the bus service would justify a more frequent train service to the station, currently twice hourly.

 

Perhaps Ealing Council should follow the lead of Haringey Council, the latest London council to recognise the importance and the value of good transport interchanges as an aid to regeneration, road safety and the transfer of traffic from private to public means. The have announced plans to provide a bus station at Tottenham Hale station and have secured the financial support of both TfL and the LDA. TfL have also announced recently that they plan to build a bus station over the rail platforms at Dalston Junction. Perhaps Ealing Broadway could soon follow – all three parties agreed in September to include the plan in their election manifestos.

 

Finally an important note for your diary. November 16th is the date for both the annual general meeting of EPTUG and a presentation by Crossrail. The meeting at Ealing Town Hall starts at 7.00pm and admission is free. Come along and hear the true facts about Crossrail and please stay on to volunteer to help shape the future of transport in Ealing Borough by volunteering to join the EPTUG Committee.