Transport Watch - January 2012

 

Passengers in Ealing scored two important victories as 2011 drew to an end. 

 

1. The first was an announcement by First Great Western that they had been given permission to acquire 48 more coaches for use across their network. The coaches, all surplus to requirements by other operators, will be delivered to FGW over the coming months and they include the return of five, 5-coach Adelante trains which will replace the Turbo units on the middle distance routes such as the Cotswold Line. Elsewhere the Turbo units used between Reading and Basingstoke will be replaced by other “hand me down” trains. Together this will mean enough Turbo units to enable all the trains serving Southall, Hanwell and Ealing Broadway to be at least 5 coaches long.

 

We have campaigned hard and long for this extra capacity including meeting two successive Ministers of Transport to press the case. EPTUG carried out a survey of passengers using the early morning FGW services. The results of the survey, showing that, for example, four out of five passengers boarding at Southall were frequently left behind unable to squeeze into their preferred train. This evidence plus photographs taken depicting the third world situation along the line failed to change the Ministers mind and FGW remains the only train operator on the mainland not to have received any new rolling stock. FGW however refused to let the matter rest and have secured the extra units which should be coming on line by February. FGW have thanked EPTUG for their assistance.

 

2. EPTUG also played an important role in getting the Eastbound 607 bus stop in central Ealing re-instated. When the Dickens Yard site required an access road to its site London Buses,  moved the very busy stop from outside Christ Church. Stops on all the other routes were re-located a short distance away except for the 607 stop giving its passengers the stark choice of West Ealing or Ealing Broadway to board or alight. EPTUG immediately raised the matter with London Buses even drawing the matter to the attention of the TfL Transport Committee’s chairwoman but London Buses refused to respond or discuss. In the end persistence paid off and an on site meeting took place in November. As a result of that meeting the 607 once again stops in the New Broadway.

 

Bus and train fares went up earlier this month, rail fares going up by an average of 5.9%. A one day all zones travel card now costs £15.80 and a monthly season ticket from Ealing Broadway to Slough £321.50. When they announced the increase the train operators committee cited improvements to stations, (such as Reading), and new rolling stock as evidence that investment in the railways was ongoing. However First Great Western remains the only operator, together with Merseytravel not to have been allocated any new trains. On the buses we fare even worst. Last year, according to Caroline Pidgeon, chair of TfL’s Transport Committee, there had been a 55% increase in fares since Boris Johnson took over but no major investment in the bus network.

 

With, hopefully, all trains serving local stations now comprising of five coaches we have asked FGW to include the advice that, “this train will stop at the London end of the platform”, in all the pre-recorded departure announcements. At Southall we have also asked for a shelter to be erected further along platform 4. FGW’s new manager in charge of local stations, Dean Haynes, is keen to take up both ideas and discuss ways of making local stations more attractive. A series of meetings has been set up so please let us have your ideas via 020 8998 0999 or this website.

 

District Line trains no longer serve Kensington Olympia on weekdays (except special services), passengers being advised to travel via West Brompton much to the consternation of disability groups. The change enables an extra train to serve the Ealing branch, several extra trains to serve Wimbledon Branch and removes the crossover of trains outside Earls Court which can delay Ealing trains.

 

Chiswick Park still lacks a bus service but we understand that funding to extend route E10 to the business park is now in place and the extended service should start soon.

 

Driverless trains on the Underground may cause alarm for many even though they have been used on the Docklands Light Railway since its inception and for years jumbo jets have landed “hands free” at Heathrow. But the news leaked by the driver’s trade union recently probably did more to cheer the passengers who for a long time have felt that skilful negotiation over pay and conditions has held passengers to ransom. LUL say any change is years away.

 

The current edition of EPTUG’s Platform magazine gives details of the future shape of London’s railways plus details of the new Countdown system. If you are a non member but would like a copy please send a large sae to 3 Gordon Road W5 2HR