TfL November Board Meeting: Overview and the Underground
Apologies to all our readers for any delay to our service and the inconvenience this may have caused. I have recently had to take a break from writing which meant that I was not able to cast as beady an eye over the governance meetings of the London assembly and TfL as I would have liked. However normal service has now been resumed, although as this is the season of mists and mangled metaphors, readers may need to allow extra time to read the articles.
Let’s start with a belated review of the TfL board meeting of the 4th November.
JB will shortly be sharing his thoughts on the implications of the spending review so I propose to plunder the Commissioner’s report for the nitty, if not positively, gritty bits. As ever our thanks to TfL for allowing us to do so. Bye the bye, although we tend to focus on the Commissioner’s Report, other important material does get circulated at the meetings. In November a report on the safety and security of London’s Transport System was published for discussion. If you have the time it is well worth a look.
As ever our comments are in italics.
Peter Hendy’s report provided an overview of major issues and developments since the Board meeting on 22nd September and updated the Board on significant projects and initiatives. The next board meeting is on the 8th December 2010.
A wholesale restructure of TfL, led by Peter Hendy has begun to ensure that the organisation is fit for the next ten years and not the last ten. This will reach its conclusions in the spring of next year, but in everything that TfL does, the focus will be on protecting investment in London’s transport network and frontline services and delivering the best possible value for money for fare payers and taxpayers.
Will the words that strike fear into the heart of every manager soon been heard in the corridors – “I’m a management consultant and I’m here to help you?” Whatever else you do, Peter, promise us that you will ensure that the corporate memory tapes of TfL don’t get wiped in the process.
Jubilee line incidents
On the morning of Monday, 18 October, there were a number of issues with the traction current on the southbound Jubilee line track. The traction current is the electrical supply to the third and fourth conductor rail system that provides power to the trains. The traction current ceased shortly after 8.45 am, causing trains in the St. John’s Wood and Baker Street section to shut down. Services between Waterloo and Finchley Road were suspended, and four trains were stalled between Baker Street and St John’s Wood. Passengers had to be detrained on to the track, with the final detrainment of over 1,000 passengers being completed between 10.30 and 11.43am. In addition, a northbound train approaching Green Park was worked back to Westminster, arriving at 9.45am. Through services on the Jubilee line were restored with severe delays at 5.45pm. The cause of the incident was confirmed to be an 80 metre section of tunnel telephone wires which snapped, and came down on the southbound track between St John’s Wood and Baker Street. It is believed that the damage was worsened by a southbound train passing over the section. A formal investigation into the incident has been launched.
Also in the same week, a broken rail was found in a junction to the south of Green Park by an overnight patrol. However, it was not possible to repair or replace the rail before the start of traffic the next morning, on Wednesday 21 October 2010, and the Jubilee line had to be suspended between Finchley Road and London Bridge until 5.50am. After this, the suspension was reduced to the section between Green Park and Waterloo. At 10.20am, the line was again suspended between Finchley Road and London Bridge to implement protection arrangements, and shortened to between Finchley Road and Waterloo while the track was replaced. Through services on the line resumed shortly after 4pm.
Victoria line incident
Just after 9am on Tuesday 19 October, a 2009 stock southbound Victoria line train stalled on the approach to Finsbury Park. As a result, services had to be suspended between Seven Sisters and Highbury & Islington, with three trains stalled behind the defective train between Seven Sisters and Finsbury Park. The three trains completed lengthy wrong direction moves at the permitted slow speed to Seven Sisters, with the last being cleared by 10.23am, with no customer issues reported. Detrainment of 404 passengers from the defective train to Finsbury Park commenced at 10.45am, and was completed by 11.20am.
The failure was traced to an air main connection coming loose on the train, which led to a loss of air pressure and caused the brakes to be applied. This was isolated, and the train was taken to the Northumberland Park Depot at 12.15pm, with through services on the Victoria line resuming shortly after. This was a manufacturing fault on a new train.
Mile End incident
LU was notified on 26 August of the Office of Rail Regulation’s intention to prosecute LU for a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act, following an incident at Mile End station on 17 November 2009. A partially detached and damaged inter-car canvas barrier between two cars of a moving Central line train struck three women standing on the platform. LU produced a Formal Investigation Report into this incident, which was subsequently reviewed and found to be thorough by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch. All the recommendations of this investigation have already been implemented, and LU is confident that the chances of recurrence are very low. An update will be provided to a joint meeting of the Safety, Health and Environment Assurance Committee and the Rail and Underground Panel in December.
Jubilee line upgrade
Following the establishment of weekend service between Stratford and Waterloo, using the new transmission based train control (TBTC) system, it is to be extended to the next section of the line. However, the first passenger service on the Stratford to West Hampstead section over the weekend of 25-26 September did not perform as well as expected, and a number of system fixes, both hardware and software, are being implemented to address this. TfL is continuing to aim for the introduction of the TBTC system for a weekday passenger service between Stratford and Dollis Hill by the end of the year. The final decision will depend on the performance of weekend testing and operations until then.
Victoria line upgrade
Training of train operators on the new 2009 stock has been completed, allowing increased use of the new trains. By mid-October, 16 new trains were in service, and in the four-week period to 16 October, they provided over 30 per cent of the line’s operated train kilometres, up from 22 per cent in the previous four-week period. Growth in reliability continues to remain the main focus.
Sub Surface Railway (SSR) upgrade
The first new S-stock train in service is achieving a higher level of fault free running than expected, due to successful off-site testing at the Old Dalby test track. This contrasts with the current non-reliability being experienced with the new trains for the Victoria line, where the PPP restrictions prevented LU from imposing the requirement for off-site testing to the same degree as is being done at Old Dalby for the new S-stock.
A perfect example of something to be deposited in the Corporate Memory Bank)
The second production train has been received, and is now also in passenger service. 92 train operators have been trained on the S-stock, and clearance for station integration testing with the S-stock trains has been obtained for the entire Metropolitan line to Aldgate. Best and final offers for signalling are due from the last two tenderers by the end of October. Timelines for awarding the contracts are dependent on detailed engineering and operational review of the submissions, with a target date of February 2011.
King’s Cross St Pancras Station
On 27 September, King’s Cross St Pancras became the 62nd step-free station on the Underground, when the lift providing step-free access to the Northern line platforms was commissioned. This is the final of ten lifts that have been installed as part of the £800 million station redevelopment project that has quadrupled the size of the station, and the whole of which has been delivered on time, and within budget. However, the post-commissioning performance of the lift has been unsatisfactory, and LU is working with the manufacturer to achieve more reliable passenger service levels.
Victoria Station upgrade (VSU)
Advance utility works for the upgrade are progressing well, and scheduled to be completed at the end of 2010. The main works will then commence at the beginning of May 2011. Discussions are now taking place with the City of Westminster to ensure effective coordination and mitigation of a number of other interventions anticipated to take place in the area during the first few months of 2011. These include reconstruction of a BT chamber in Buckingham Palace Road, crane operations in Colonnade Walk, and resurfacing in Grosvenor Place.
At the National Rail Awards held on 16 September, the King’s Cross St Pancras station redevelopment project was awarded the first prize in the Civil Engineering Achievement category. Three further LU entries were highly commended – the Piccadilly line for London Commuter Operations, LU Maintenance for Maintenance Team of the year, and the Climate Change Strategy Team in the Environmental Excellence category.
Also, at the RailStaff Awards held on 23 October, Simon Lewis, a duty manager at Wembley Park Train Depot won the Rail Manager of the Year Award, and Patricia Holgate, Head of Resourcing for LU won the Recruiter / HR Person of the Year Award.