Transport Watch – November 2011

 

The saga of the missing 607 bus stop continues and has now reached the ear of Caroline Pidgeon, Chair of the GLA Transport Committee. She agrees with EPTUG and the many users inconvenienced by London Buses’ decision to remove the eastbound stop from outside Christ Church, that running non stop from West Ealing to Ealing Broadway is not acceptable. Since a letter about the stop’s removal appeared in the Gazette several readers have added their comments but EPTUG still awaits a call from London Buses to meet on site to consider the problem.

 

Caroline Pidgeon, addressing the Campaign for Better Transport in London was also critical of the 55% increase in fares since the Mayor Boris Johnson took over stating that no major investment in the network had taken place since that time and in fact there was evidence of some cutting back. Recent conversion of bendi-bus routes to conventional double deck operations had led to a reduction in capacity. London Buses now carry a record 2.2 billion passengers accounting for half of the U.K.’S bus passenger total. The Tube too is breaking all records with 1.2 billion journeys, a 40% increase over 15 years.

 

Mention of Boris Johnson may jog one or two memories of a meeting earlier in January at Greenford Hall when he was challenged about the sudden termination and removal of work to install a lift at Greenford Station. He promised to reply about this and other similar situations at stations such as Osterley. At the busy Shepherds Bush Station used by many Ealing passengers, £64 million pounds refit had included sinking a lift shaft before the order to abandon work was given.

 

One of the leading railway magazines has suggested that the Department for Transport has already approved the transfer back to First Great Western, trains which it used operate. The magazine confidently states that 5 sets of the 5 coach Adelante trains are destined to return. If so, they are ideally suited to operate of FGW’s semi fast, middle distance routes such as London to the Cotswolds. This could free one or two Turbo Trains sufficient to lengthen and ease the pressure on local train services. However Matthew Golten, FGW’s director responsible for train procurement informed EPTUG at the end of October that “intense negotiations (were) ongoing”.

 

A recent debate in the House of Commons to discuss HS2, the planned high speed rail line to the Midlands and the North showed how divided MPs were about the project and also just how ill informed many of them were. But for Ealing people there is no need to remain ill informed for on Monday 7th November the annual general meeting of EPTUG takes place and it will be preceded by a debate on HS2. This year the meeting will be held at Christ the Saviour Parish Centre, and not Ealing Town Hall, commencing at 7.00pm.

 

A landmark stage in the construction of Crossrail has been reached. The tunnel portals at Royal Oak are complete and ready for tunnel boring under central London to commence. Crossrail trains will use the two slow lines through Ealing but at Royal Oak will divert to the A40 side of the Hammersmith and City Line before entering into a tunnel diving under all the lines entering Paddington. It will serve Paddington Station from two underground platforms under the road presently used by taxis adjacent to platform 1.

 

The contract for the construction of the portals was a £25 million contract but it was completed within budget and completed 20 days early. Meanwhile the “boys in the back office” have applied for a Transport and Works Act Order to acquire land which they would need to acquire at Old Oak if HS2 was given the go ahead.

 

Fact or fiction? True or false? The short run between Paddington and Heathrow has many twists and turns but they all bend in the same direction. This leads to more wear on one side of the wheels than the other. So every few weeks on a Sunday and hauled by a diesel train the trains are taken a little outing through West Ealing and the Greenford Line and back to Old Oak so that they now face in the opposite direction and the wear on the wheels is balanced out.

 

The months and weeks of cancelled and disrupted services on the North London Line have been compensated for by a vastly improved and reliable service. Now LOROL have promised yet more improvements including additional capacity on the Gospel Oak and the East London Lines. From next month extra services will run through to Stratford easing the overcrowding on trains from Richmond and Clapham.

 

From next month the District Line will no longer serve Kensington Olympia during weekdays (except special services). Instead the train will serve Wimbledon Branch, the busiest of the branches. Passengers for Olympia will be advised to change to National Rail services at West Brompton. London Underground say that passengers on the Ealing Broadway branch of the District Line will also benefit by having a more reliable service. Often, it is claimed, trains are delayed waiting for the Olympia train to join the main District Line tracks just outside Earls Court. Disability aware groups are stilling pressing to retain the Olympia service, one of LUL’s few stations with street level access.

 

We have often bemoaned the lack of a reliable Countdown system at our bus stops and keep asking why development of it has not kept pace with similar systems outside London and been extended to more stops. Perhaps now the answer is becoming clearer for London Buses have unveiled a new service. Every bus stop has been allocated a unique number. It is usually a 5 figure number and can be seen at the top of the bus stop or, it can be looked up on the TfL website. By keying in this number and sending a text to 877287 you immediately receive a response showing the anticipated arrival times of all services to that stop. The downside however is that whilst looking at Countdown is free, the new service costs 12p plus the cost of a normal text message. You can still try and persuade London Buses to install Countdown at your favourite stop but the cost is said to be in the region of £10,000.

 

Finally a plea, if you are not too busy on the evening of Monday, 7th November, do please come along to the EPTUG AGM which this year is being held at Christ the Saviour Church Hall in New Broadway. The meeting starts at 7.00pm but do remember  that if you are travelling on the 607 towards Acton, that the bus no longer stops outside. If you can’t make the meeting but really want to raise an important issue, our message line on 020 8998 0999 will take your message.