As the board papers are out for the final board meeting of this year, I will show you some of the extracts from the selected board papers.
You can view the papers from the board meeting here.
Taking a look at the commissioner’s report.
London Underground (LU)
In recent days, we have had to take an unusually high number of Piccadilly line trains out of service to repair their wheels, which means that we do not have a full fleet available and are operating a reduced service. Train wheels sliding on a rail can pick up a flat-spot that can affect the smooth running of the train and in severe cases, can actually damage both the track and the train.
There is a greater risk of this when the rails become more slippery. This is not confined to the Piccadilly line or LU, but the Piccadilly line trains are unique as they are the only fleet without wheel slip protection. This technology was not available in 1972 when the trains were introduced. A procurement process is now under way to buy new trains for the line.
In the meantime, we are working around the clock to make the wheels safe, so that we can return to a good service as quickly as possible. We have commissioned a formal report into this disruption, which will be forensic in its examination of the facts and will aim to identify why this happened and make recommendations to stop it happening again.
On 18 November, the fourth of London’s Night Tube lines, the Northern line, started operating. Serving the West End and providing the first Night Tube service at Camden Town and Leicester Square, it is the most frequent, offering a train every seven to eight minutes between Morden and Camden Town. Services extend on both northern branches of the line to Edgware and High Barnet. Take up of the Northern line service has been excellent: since launch we have added approximately 35,000 Night Tube journeys each weekend. Night Tube now carries some 117,000 journeys per weekend.
On 16 December, Night Tube services will start on the Piccadilly line, providing a train every 10 minutes between Cockfosters and Heathrow Terminal 5. The introduction of the Night Tube throughout the West End will further support London’s vibrant night time economy and enhance services to commercial areas such as Hammersmith. It will also increase travel options for staff and passengers using Heathrow Airport.
As expected passenger journeys are increasing on Night Bus routes that connect with Night Tube but decreasing on those that run parallel with it. We introduced eight new bus routes at the same time as the Central and Victoria line Night Tube services. These are now seeing at least 3,500 journeys each weekend. The two new routes we introduced at the same time as the Jubilee line are seeing at least 500 journeys each weekend.
We are committed to making sure the Night Tube does not impact residents. Where we have received complaints about noise, we are providing customers with a named contact via a dedicated telephone number, with ready access to the experts working to tackle the root cause.
If the plans for the Piccadilly Line Night Tube fail, I believe TFL should make a new night bus express service to run from Central London to Heathrow Airport. There’s an existing night bus route which goes from Central London to Heathrow Airport which is the N9.
A detailed business case for rail devolution, running to over 100 pages, was submitted by the Mayor to the Department for Transport on 14 October, as requested by the Secretary of State. Officers met DfT officials on 26 October to discuss the business case and answer detailed questions. The business case found a benefit: cost ratio of 4.3:1 for the transfer of suburban rail services in southeast London to TfL from 2018, and also found that the construction of 80,000 homes could be enabled or accelerated if services across the whole of south London were transferred.
Unfortunately, the Secretary of State for Transport has said that he will not proceed with this for the South-Eastern franchise. We will continue to work with business and politicians from all parties, both inside and outside the London boundary, to make our case, which is compelling, for rail devolution.
This means the DfT wants to reform railway franchising and hand some of Network Rail’s infrastructure over to private train operators.