Today I met with the Director of Network Operations and the Director of Asset Management at Transport for London to discuss the issues residents have been facing regarding the Central Line.
They started by apologising for the issues which prompted my letter to them and noted that they had experienced a number of unique incidents this year which they are working to address.
They told me that they have just spent £123 million on overhauling the carriages, including clearing out ventilation systems to improve air flow. They’ve also tweaked the ventilation system so that it will start to flow at its maximum at a lower temperature and will trial switching the vents around so that they blow onto passengers rather than at the window as they currently do. Unfortunately this doesn’t mean the carriages will necessarily be significantly cooler in summer, but it should hopefully mean that air flow is increased.
From 2020, they are also planning a £350 million upgrade of the Central Line trains to overhaul their motors and diagnostics, which they believe will help prevent unnecessary delays caused by the age of the trains which have been in service since 1992. They would also like to increase the number of trains running on the line at peak times to help with the demand, but they are limited to 30 trains an hour due to the signalling system. The signalling system will be overhauled when the new trains come in so that more can run, but I appreciate this is of little comfort to residents in the meantime.
There is some good news though. They are considering a dedicated 4 carriage shuttle service from Hainault to Woodford, which would not be taken away when demand peaks in other parts of the line as is currently the case. I know some residents feel deeply frustrated when trains are cancelled on this part of the line.
They are also investing in South Woodford Station to install step free access, new ticket machines and improvements to the station’s drainage and appearance to be complete by Summer 2019.
I know that residents will still feel understandably frustrated that we won’t see the big improvements we need until the new trains are brought in, but hopefully this shows that they are trying to make some improvements in the meantime.
As always I’d be interested to know what you think about their plans so I can feed back to them, and you can rest assured that I will keep pressuring them to make sure that they deliver what they have promised.