Transport Watch – April 2013

 

EPTUG’s campaign to persuade the Heathrow Connect operator to attract passengers away from the Piccadilly Line has been slowly gathering strength. Dr Onkar Sahota, GLA member for Ealing and Hillingdon has tabled a question asking the GLA to persuade BAA, the operators of the Connect Service to bring its fares and acceptance of passes into line with the TfL and National Rail services. At the moment the high surcharge for passengers leaving or joining the Connect service at Heathrow results in just a handful of passengers using the service whilst hundreds of passengers with their baggage flood onto the Piccadilly Line every hour.

 

Recent observations by EPTUG show that finding a seat on central London bound trains is often impossible beyond Hounslow Central whilst many passengers joining later on the journey change trains at Acton Town to await a less crowded Piccadilly Line train from Rayners Lane.

 

When the Central Line to Ruislip was built the planners thoughtfully provided a small simple dropping off point for car and taxi passengers but now these useful facilities seem to be used more and more by commercial and other vehicles parking there all day causing well intentioned car drivers to briefly stop nearby and incurring parking fines. Instead of the authorities arguing as to whether it is private land or public road can someone please resolve this increasingly worsening situation.

 

Road works outside Willesden Junction Station, set to last up to 3 months will prevent routes 220 and 487 from stopping there. However elsewhere the 440 stop at North Acton has been restored and also buses are once again accessing Ealing Hospital’s bus station.

 

Our fears that the revised plans for Ealing Broadway Station only showed a modest increase in ticket gates were unfounded. We are reliably informed that the gate line will consist of 17 gates.  The station will certainly see a change in usage once Crossrail services commence but there are 4 other “Crossrail” stations in the borough and the Crossrail effect on these will be much greater. Acton Mainline will perhaps see the largest per-centage increase once the line goes beyond Paddington, whilst West Ealing will become a busy interchange station with Greenford branch line trains terminating there. Hanwell is in many ways restricted by the constraints that World Heritage status places upon it, but as with Southall, they will see a mass transfer of passengers from the Central and Piccadilly Lines to the new railway. The impact on traffic in Southall will be major but even though Crossrail’s opening, in planning terms is imminent, no detailed plans have been released.

 

Bus lanes without doubt speed bus journeys and enable bus users to enjoy a more reliable service, and other road users are, provided full access at junctions is allowed for, not inconvenienced or delayed. But not all bus lanes are in full time usage and it does confuse drivers who when surrounded by other moving traffic, are required to quickly read the times of operation, day of the week and to check the time and remember the day, all this whilst watching the car in front and the cyclist who appeared from nowhere. But now, our borough’s award winning transport strategy team hope to come up with a solution which if successful could be rolled out, not just across Ealing, but across the UK. The plan is to use lights, (possibly blue), to show when the bus lane is or is not in use.

 

And like London Buses used to be, you wait a long time for a good idea and then two come along at once. LBE’s transport planners are also seeking to install an experiment countdown pedestrian crossing in central Ealing. Already in wide use in many countries both the pedestrian light and the road user’s light clearly display the number of seconds left until the green light becomes red or the red light becomes green. So no longer any excuse to run across as the little man flashes and, car user an even stronger reason why not to jump the red light.

 

The rail franchise debacle last year was well publicised but the “knock on” effect has given First Great Western an extended franchise until July 2016, not long enough to justify any major investment in rolling stock perhaps but bringing the end of tender very close to Crossrail’s start date. When Crossrail starts it is likely to operated under the auspices of TfL’s London Rail as is the highly successful London Overground.

 

Fifty years ago, in March 1963, the infamous Dr Beeching published his now famous report. It included the recommendation that the North London Line, now the London Overground, be scrapped, and that the Chiltern Line into Marylebone be converted to a busway for long distance coaches. Thankfully that advice was not heeded and certain Ealing councillors fought hard and long to keep the Marylebone service open for trains. At the same time the Paddington to Birmingham Snow Hill service was closed and services from the Welsh Border and the West Midlands were transferred to the newly electrified West Coast Main Line. Dr Beeching was without doubt a very clever intelligent man but even he could not forsee the growth in traffic both on road and rail that we witnessed in the following 50 years. Lets hope that today’s transport planners do not forget the lessons learned. We need investment in transport both locally and nationally.