Transport Watch – November 2010


Crossrail is going ahead and still with a start date of 2017, but some people still require an assurance that Crossrail will happen. Perhaps the news that tunnelling work at the Paddington end started during the last week of August whilst at the other end of the line, at the quaintly named Pudding Mill Lane, tunnelling contracts will be awarded shortly. Elsewhere refurbishment of the Connaught Tunnel on the Abbey Wood spur is also scheduled for an imminent start to be made. Tunnelling work will also commence at other points under central London ensuring that so long as all the bits meet up the work will be completed in the shortest time.


London Underground are justifiably proud to announce the commissioning of 10 new lifts at the prestigious Kings Cross and St Pancras Underground Station, but why are they still not looking after the welfare of local Ealing passengers who use local stations? Work on new lifts at Greenford and Osterley Stations was suspended by the Mayor mid way through the installation process in order to save money, a move which many find difficult to understand since cancellation penalties were sure to apply. Perhaps we don’t shout up for our rights loudly enough.


Route 92 linking Ealing Hospital to Greenford and Ealing gets a slightly amended timetable from November. The last bus will leave the hospital 12 minutes later at 00.15 but from around 22.45 each evening the frequency of service drops to a bus every 15 minutes instead of one every 10 minutes. New double deck vehicles are also being introduced on the service at about the same time as the timetable change.


One of Ealing’s most popular routes is the limited stop 607 service which regularly sees passengers letting the “all stops” service go by in the hope that the 607 will not be far behind. Yet London Buses steadfastly refuses to extend the concept of limited stop services to other routes even the long route 18 from central London via Wembley to Harrow. This route will be one of the next to lose its bendi-buses and though Westminster Council and Westbourne Park residents have both suggested the change is a golden opportunity for the new service to be introduced, London Buses remain firmly opposed.


Over recent weeks volunteers from EPTUG have been handing out survey cards to early morning passengers joining First Great Western’s services towards Padington. Just over 800 cards have been handed out and already more than 230 of them have been completed and returned. Of these nearly a quarter say they can never get a seat on the train, whilst 56%, over half of those replying, say that sometimes they cannot even get on the overcrowded train. A further 24% of passengers replying went further saying they have “frequently” been unable to board the train.


London’s deputy mayor, Richard Barnes, who represents both Ealing on Hillingdon on the Greater London Authority, has joined EPTUG’s campaign to provide more carriages on local First Great Western services. Aware that London Overground will soon be getting new trains for the Gospel Oak to Barking line and that the old trains are being passed to FGW, he is putting pressure on them to use the units to replace Turbo units on the quieter parts of their network enabling the inner London routes to benefit from longer trains.  


Meanwhile no lesser authority than the Office of Rail Regulation has thrown its weight into the overcrowding debate by revealing in a report on capacity that overcrowding on FGW’s London commuter routes had increased yet again. Their latest survey shows that on local services arriving in London between 0700 and 09.59, First Great Western services were the most overcrowded of any operator, significantly higher that even those companies who have since been allocated additional rolling stock.


Most of us know what is like “having the builders in” and travellers from the north of the borough using Marylebone Station will certainly have experienced some inconvenience there when using the station. But work is on schedule and should be finished by Christmas. Already the striking new colour scheme is emerging from behind the protective hoardings.


London TravelWatch as many readers know does sterling work on behalf of users of public transport across London and the surrounding counties. The TravelWatch staff maintain regular contact with transport providers on behalf of passengers in addition to holding regular meetings with both Parliament and councils as well as passenger groups. But now the Greater London Authority who fund their work and who also administer most of the transport provision in the London TravelWatch area are seeking to close down the organisation. This cannot be in the interests of London’s passengers. If you agree please tell EPTUG by writing to 3 Gordon Road W5 2AD.   


Route 94 linking Acton Green to Piccadilly Circus is to be operated by 20 new hybrid double deck vehicles which means that about 2 in 3 buses on the route will be hybrid vehicles. A new timetable for the route has also been started and London Buses tell us, some stops may be re-located. This is due in part because an improved bus standing arrangement at Acton Green is being considered with the aim of reducing bus movements.


The expression, “Better late than never” springs to mind as London Buses now realise that they lose an estimated £550,000 in unpaid fares on bendy bus route 149 whilst the change back to double deck vehicles on route 38 saved £500,000 in unpaid fares. But the expression “Better late than never” comes to mind when we hear that the rebuild of Ealing Broadway Station has been put back to 2018. This news, and details of interim measures being taken was announced to EPTUG members at their meeting held on Tuesday.