TfL Board Papers: It’s Not Just About Picking Up The Pieces – It’s About Stopping It Falling Apart


A Legacy of the Riots, our thanks and copyright acknowledgements to Alan Stanton

A Legacy of the Riots, our thanks and copyright acknowledgements to Laurence Cumming via Alan Stanton

Peter Hendy’s Commissioner’s Report for September 2011 to the TfL Board demonstrates yet again the resilience and tenacity of the people who make London’s transport work.

Comment from us would be superfluous so we quote unabridged from his report.


London saw some of the worst civil disturbances in living memory during a four day period in August, which caused significant damage at several locations across the Capital. The staff of TfL and its contractors made considerable efforts, in many cases at great personal risk, to ensure that Londoners were able to complete their journeys during those extremely challenging events. Transport services were only withdrawn or curtailed where circumstances made it impossible to continue; there was no wholesale withdrawal of services at any time (unlike in Birmingham, for example). TfL – and London – carried on.

Impact on transport operations


On the bus network, a number of services had to be diverted or curtailed due to the unrest. Three buses were lost to arson and over 100 buses damaged, while several bus operators suffered physical abuse or injuries. However, all services were restored as soon as it was safe and practical to do so, and bus staff showed remarkable dedication and bravery to continue to serve and protect passengers. One member of staff at West Croydon Bus Station, after being advised to lock the bus station and leave for his own safety, remained on duty because his “passengers would not know where to go to catch their buses”.

On Saturday 6 August, Tottenham High Road was closed due to a demonstration outside the police station. The staff in CentreComm, TfL’s bus control room, implemented diversions for the routes affected and arranged for the buses trapped there to be removed. Three hours later, it became clear that police were dealing with an outbreak of civil disorder. A member of staff from Arriva was attacked and suffered a broken wrist as he was discussing the diversion and recovery of buses with police, while a rail replacement bus was burned out, with the driver suffering injuries.

On the evening of Sunday 7 August, disturbances broke out in Enfield, with bus drivers reporting groups of youths on board, heading towards the town centre. CentreComm implemented diversions for all routes in the area. Further disturbances and looting broke out in Wood Green, Dalston, Denmark Hill, Islington, Leyton, Shepherds Bush, Streatham, Woolwich, Oxford Circus and Brixton. There were also reports of missiles being thrown at buses in a number of locations, while the bus stations at Edmonton, Waltham Cross and Walthamstow were evacuated for a short time on police instructions.

On Monday 8 August, incidents broke out in Hackney, Croydon, Peckham, Barking, Lewisham, Bethnal Green, Clapham Junction, Harlesden, Battersea, Bayswater, Camden, Catford, Chelsea, Colliers Wood, Dulwich, Walworth, Ilford, Romford, Canning Town, Woolwich and Ealing. CentreComm and the bus operators worked together to divert buses away from disturbances. In addition to numerous reports of missiles causing damage to buses, a bus was set alight in Peckham and another near Reeves Corner in Croydon.

By Tuesday 9 August, police resources in London were substantially boosted by other police forces across the country. Some bus routes were on local diversions or curtailments due to Police road closures in Tottenham, Woolwich Town Centre, Clapham Junction, Croydon and Peckham Rye.

London Underground

London Underground (LU) operated throughout the riots, although a number of stations had to be closed. On the evening of Sunday 7 August, Brixton was closed due to public disorder outside the station. Three customers were unable to exit the station and were taken to the supervisor’s office to remain there under his care. In the morning, the supervisor arranged for the customers to go on the first train to Stockwell where they were picked up by taxis and taken home. On Monday 8 August, stations had to be closed at Brixton, Barking, Bethnal Green, Stepney Green, Camden Town, Chalk Farm, Ealing Broadway, Ealing Common, Queensway, Ladbroke Grove, Sloane Square and South Woodford. The most severely affected was again Brixton, where a scene of crime was established by the Metropolitan Police, leading to passenger services being terminated at Stockwell.

There were no injuries to LU staff or customers, although on Sunday 7 August two contractors were set upon by rioters as they approached Brixton station to install cabling for the station Wi-Fi project. One of the victims was treated in hospital for head injuries incurred when the rioters smashed the windows of their van.

London Tramlink

Tramlink was significantly affected by the riots. On Monday 8 August, large groups of youths congregated in Croydon town centre and unrest was expected, meaning services had to be withdrawn from the Central Croydon Loop. Service on other parts of the tram network remained in operation for a period, although by 19:55 all tram services were suspended on advice from the police.

The fire at the Reeves Furniture store, located within 10m of tram infrastructure, also caused physical damage to the network, resulting in services in central Croydon being suspended from Tuesday 9 August. Remarkably, by Friday 12 August, a full service was restored after staff worked around the clock to repair the severely damaged track and overhead cabling. Later that day, the Mayor visited the site to thank staff involved in the operation and restoration of Tramlink services.

In agreement with the London Borough of Croydon, free tram travel was offered on the weekend of 20/21 August to encourage people to return to shopping in central Croydon. This resulted in around 20,000 additional journeys above normal weekend demand.

London Overground

London Overground successfully operated passenger services throughout the disturbances. However, from Monday 8 to Tuesday 9 August, trains were unable to stop at Hackney Central and Barking stations for short periods on police advice, due to disorder on the streets outside, while a London Overground train was the target for a missile thrown near Hackney Central.

Docklands Light Railway

DLR services operated throughout the civil unrest, although on the evening of Monday 8 August trains to Woolwich were suspended after Woolwich DLR station was attacked and damaged. Services were amended so that trains terminated at King George V station on the north side of the river instead.

Barclays Cycle Hire

Barclays Cycle Hire remained available to customers throughout the disruptions. TfL monitored events closely, and was prepared to close docking stations and lock in the bikes if necessary, but fortunately this was not required. Indeed, scheme usage remained high, with some 75,000 journeys recorded from 8-10 August. Although some media outlets reported scheme bikes being stolen, neither the Metropolitan Police nor TfL have been able to confirm such reports. No Cycle Hire bicycles or docking stations were damaged during the disturbances.

However, due to concerns about staff safety, some aspects of the operation of the scheme were affected. The contact centre in Enfield closed early on 8, 9, and 10 August, due to concerns about staff travelling to and from the site. Calls were answered by a reserve contact centre during these hours. On-street redistribution staff, who worked in pairs rather than alone, also operated for restricted hours for the same three nights, returning to base by 18:00. On-street maintenance and cleaning activities, which normally occur throughout the night, were also stopped at 18:00.

The road network

The roads where TfL has operations included many of the worst areas of civil disturbance. Contractors were withdrawn from the road network for their safety, affecting the ability to respond to issues and to carry out scheduled work, especially the preparations for the London Surrey Cycle Classic Olympics Test Event. Despite this, TfL put on a highly successful event, with cyclists praising the route and road disruption kept to a minimum.

During the disturbances, areas such as Tottenham, Enfield, Brixton, Peckham, Lewisham, Woolwich and Croydon all suffered traffic disruption and infrastructure damage. This included damage to traffic signals, bus stops, shelters and information displays, as well as road surfaces and associated facilities like drain covers.

Following the closure of Tottenham High Road, the scene of some of the most significant disturbance, TfL worked with Amey Infrastructure, the London Borough of Haringey and the Metropolitan Police to repair and re-open the road as quickly as possible. Around 50 people worked through the night, and the Metropolitan Police praised TfL and Amey for their efforts.

Impact on fare revenues

The civil disturbance had a notable impact on fare revenue across the transport network, resulting in estimated revenue losses of almost £2.5m. Of this, £1.1m came from Tube fare revenue losses (a three per cent reduction on normal takings) and £1m from bus fare losses (a four per cent reduction). The remaining £400,000 resulted from a 25 per cent reduction in Tramlink fare revenue over the period, and losses on the DLR and London Overground networks.

Other costs

In addition to fare revenue losses, transport related costs of around £2.7m are estimated to have resulted from the riots. These include the cost of damage to vehicles, infrastructure and property, staff and management costs related to special working arrangements, additional policing and other security costs, including extra barriers for the Olympics cycling road race test event.

TfL’s response

Recovery Plans

The Mayor has been allocated £20m of additional funding to assist recovery from the riots. TfL is working with City Hall to develop the recovery plans, the main objectives of which are:

  • Bringing forward investment in transport to underpin growth, especially in Tottenham and Enfield;
  • Helping to boost Croydon as a retail commercial centre, with links to specific proposals by the London Borough of Croydon around its priority Enterprise Zones;
  • Creating employment with new businesses, jobs and apprenticeships;
  • Supporting borough resources to enable business rate relief for start-ups in Accelerated Growth Areas, to encourage entrepreneurship and new investment; and
  • Acquiring land where it will aid development and getting businesses re-established quickly.

Sir Edward Lister, the Deputy Mayor for Planning, is meeting Borough Leaders in Croydon, Haringey and Enfield to discuss the use of the funds. TfL has provided a draft list of transport and public realm proposals, either identified by TfL with Borough input or led by Boroughs. The next stage is for the GLA and Boroughs to identify suitable schemes for the additional money.

In addition to the £20m from government, the Mayor has identified an extra £50m of funding for other affected areas. The GLA is currently defining a list of areas that are eligible, but the objectives of the fund are similar to the government funding, with a focus on long term regeneration plans.

Insurance claims

TfL has made an initial application for compensation under the Riot Damages (Police) Act 1886 for around £750,000; although this will be reviewed when actual costs are known. The time limit for notifying Police authorities has been extended from 7 days to 42 days, in accordance with Act which gives a right of recovery against the relevant Police authority, subject to certain criteria and conditions.

Replacement of shop ticket Oyster machines

Eight ‘Xpert’ Oyster ticket machines were stolen or damaged in shops during the riots. In line with the Mayor’s wish to assist businesses affected by the riots wherever possible, the shopkeepers have been, or will be, provided with repaired or new machines free of charge.

Oyster data retention to aid riot investigations

To aid police investigations into the riots, all Oyster data for the period 5 to 11 August, including journey histories, will be retained for sixteen weeks before being anonymised, instead of the normal policy of eight weeks.

After which everyone went back to work, and in our next report so will we when we will cover the rest of the topics raised by the Commissioner. To everyone involved in London Transport – thank you.

Written by Mwmbwls