TfL Board Commissioner’s Report: Improving the Underground
[Below are the noteworthy extractions from the Commissioner’s Report – MWM]
Visit by H.M. the Queen
On 24 February, Richard Parry, Managing Director of London Underground (LU) hosted a visit by Her Majesty the Queen to Aldgate station. The Queen was visiting a number of locations in the City of London, to meet the people who play a key role in ensuring the success of the City.
The Queen met with 40 LU employees, including station staff, train operators, maintenance staff, service control staff, and those involved in upgrading the Sub-Surface Railway. She also met staff involved in dealing with the aftermath of the bombing on a train near the station on 7 July 2005, and members of the Workplace Violence Unit, including the British Transport Police.
The Queen was also presented with an appropriate souvenir to commemorate the visit.
New Managing Director of LU
On 22 March, Mike Brown took up post as the Managing Director of LU. Mike, of course, was formerly the Chief Operating Officer of LU, and more recently Managing Director of Heathrow Airport.
I want to pay tribute to the work of Richard Parry, who, as Acting Managing Director pending Mike’s arrival, has led the LU organisation forward very substantially. I am grateful to him, and I am sure the Board is too.
Carbon Trust Standard
LU has become the first public transport operator to achieve the Carbon Trust Standard. This recognises LU’s work and commitment to reduce its carbon footprint across all activities. The Standard has been awarded to LU based on actions and achievements over the last three years (from 2006 to 2009), as well as plans to reduce carbon emissions in the future.
LU’s Energy Station Challenge was commended by the Carbon Trust for reducing CO2 emissions by 5,500 tonnes in the last three years. Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting has been installed at several stations across the Underground network, and the new Northern line service control centre has London’s largest single membrane green roof, the first on a railway building. In addition, the new trains on the Victoria and Sub Surface lines will make use of regenerative braking, generating CO2 savings which will grow to an estimated 17,000 tonnes every year by 2015.
On 11 March LU outlined its vision for a safe, efficient and transformed Tube. In the context of more frequent, reliable trains following the line upgrades and the rebuilding of London’s busiest stations, massive improvement in safety and security on trains and at stations, record customer satisfaction scores and the huge success and take-up of Oyster (see diagram below), LU proposals will ensure that all stations with a ticket office will continue to do so, with opening hours reduced in some areas to reflect the decline in demand but remaining open at the busiest times to serve customers.
The proposals would mean a net reduction of around 700-800 posts. LU is committed to delivering this change without the need for any compulsory redundancies by not filling vacancies and re-focusing staff to areas of greater customer need. LU will also be offering options for voluntary severance and flexible working. No changes will be introduced without consultation with staff and trade unions.
In the first period of operation of the new Circle & Hammersmith line service pattern, aimed at increasing service frequency and robustness, performance was impacted by factors unconnected with the timetable change, including rolling stock availability, staff sickness and adverse weather. Improvements in period 11 saw the percentage of trains in peak service rise by 4 per cent to 94.4 per cent and the percentage of schedule rise by a similar amount to 92.1 per cent, which was 3.5 per cent above the line’s target. Because of the extent of interworking with Metropolitan, District and Hammersmith & City line services, the Circle line is always vulnerable to service disruptions outside its own area of operation, and its targets are set at a level which takes this into account. The key measure of passenger waiting time shows that LU is achieving improved reliability and regularity of service.
Jubilee Line Upgrade
Tube Lines Limited (TLL) has provided a revised forecast for the delivery of the upgrade as October 2010, and is working to a programme which aims for partial delivery at the eastern end of the line in May. Software development still remains critical, and achievement of the programme is dependent on successful testing of the latest software version.
Northern Line Upgrade
In total, TLL has applied for 68 weekend closures of at least a section of the Northern line, over an 18 month period from the end of March. These closures are initially at the southern end of the line, before following the programme north, and include 18 full line closures. In addition, extended engineering hours are planned. LU continues to urge TLL to reduce their disruptive closure programme.
Victoria Line Upgrade
The first production trains (train 4 and train 5) have now successfully entered passenger service. Train production quality issues are being addressed (see below), and signalling system reliability continues to improve.
Sub Surface Railway (SSR) Upgrade
Enabling works for S-Stock operation have resumed at Baker Street and Aldgate with a new contractor, following the incident on 19 January when a train struck a scaffolding ladder at the station. Tenders for the Automatic Train Control signalling have been received and are being evaluated.
Quality Issues with Pre-Production Trains
Bombardier continues to work towards addressing quality issues with pre-production trains. On the Victoria Line, these have put the train delivery programme on the critical path, with consequent impact on maintenance and operator training. On the Sub Surface Railway upgrade, six nights were lost, with testing resuming on 28 January.
The Arbiter made a final decision on second period costs on 10 March resulting in a £65m increase in costs from £4.394bn to £4.459bn in 2008 prices. When inflated using his inflation assumptions, the Arbiter estimated the funding gap as £330m over the course of the second 7 ½ year period (2010-2017). However, the Arbiter has assumed that LU can afford to pay £288m more than it has in the Business Plan and therefore the funding gap is estimated to be in the region of £618m. A final determination is due on 29 April. The Arbiter has invited LU and its stakeholders to state by 9 April whether they wish to make any amendments to the contract or to the amount of service charge that LU proposes to pay in the second and subsequent review periods.
Legal Challenges – Tube Lines Limited
On 15 March, LU successfully won an adjudication regarding Northern line operations for which TLL had submitted a claim for £34m. TLL were also instructed to pay LU’s costs.
Central Line Loss of Signalling Control – 17 February 2010
At 5.30 pm on Wednesday 17 February, an incident occurred on the Central line involving a total loss of signalling control and train indications. All power to the Liverpool Street local site computers was lost, and all services were stopped while the location of stalled trains was confirmed. The cause of the failure was established to be a wiring issue on a fuse bay.
Fourteen trains were stalled, and a number of controlled train movements were put in place to enable detrainment of customers at stations. Most of the trains were dealt with promptly, and customer commendations were received for several of the drivers involved, for the way they reassured and managed their customers. Staff also handed out bottles of water on the platform, and ambulance staff were on hand in case anyone needed medical assistance. Shuttle services were established at the ends of the line around the affected area and through services were restored at 7 pm.
However, eastbound train 145 was the last stalled train to be detrained at Bethnal Green at 6.51 pm, and was not dealt with as quickly as it should have been. As a result, passengers were stuck in the train for a long time. TfL has apologised to passengers for the disruption and inconvenience caused, and a Formal Investigation Report has been commissioned to investigate the unacceptable delay in getting customers off trains in tunnels (including a full review of current processes and staff actions) so that lessons can be learned for the future.
On 12 February, Hainault became the 59th step-free station on the LU network, when three new lifts were brought into service – two standard lifts from platform to subway level and a ‘low rise’ lifting platform from the subway to the ticket office and street level. The station has also received wide aisle gates to help wheelchair users, as well as passengers with buggies and heavy luggage. In addition, new CCTV cameras, a new accessible toilet, electronic train information display boards, passenger help points, improved signage and lighting, and a new control room have been provided.
Victoria Tube Station Redevelopment
On 11 March TfL announced its intention to award the contract for the redevelopment of Victoria Tube station to a joint venture of Taylor Woodrow Construction and BAM Nuttall Limited.
Approved by the Secretary of State for Transport in July 2009, the £700m scheme will relieve congestion, provide step-free access to all platforms, and improve journey times by allowing passengers from Victoria Street to access the station without crossing a complex of busy roads. The first phase of construction will involve building a new North Ticket Hall under Bressenden Place. This will begin in 2011 and will be completed in 2016. The remaining work, including the enlargement of the South Ticket Hall and the installation of nine new escalators and seven new lifts, will be complete by 2018.