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Navin Shah GLA Brent & Harrow
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The Metropolitan Line: Higher Fares: Stagnant Service

 If, like me, you rely on the Metropolitan Line to commute into London, you may have become increasingly frustrated at the reliability of the service this winter.

The final straw for me came on Wednesday January the 19th, when delays due to a power failure involving a new S-stock train at Uxbridge made me late for a Plenary meeting of the London Assembly called to question the Mayor and his Transport Commissioner, Peter Hendy, on Transport for London's performance. I was seething by the time I arrived!

There are apparently rumours circulating that that delay, was due to the new rolling stock being "too heavy" for the gradient leaving Uxbridge. I received a very fast response from TfL when I put this to them:

"There is absolutely no truth in it whatsoever.  The failure at Uxbridge was caused when a new train hit a lineside obstruction, knocking the ‘shoe gear’ off the train. The ‘shoe gear’ is what picks up current from the live rail.  The train then came to a halt and couldn’t pick up power.  We got a second S stock to tow the damaged train out of the way and removed the obstruction, so the new trains are now happily running along that branch in regular service."

Happily they may be running, but the Uxbridge incident came two days after a huge signal failure at Baker Street caused chaos on the Met and the Jubilee could go no further north than Willesden.

By this time I had already put some questions into the Mayor about the large number of delays (415 in total!) in December. While an increase was to be expected, given the bad weather, I was surprised to note many more were due to mechanical and human failures (see table below).

Cause Incidents
Severe Weather 24
Signalling Equipment Failures 63
Train failure in service 84
Train failure in depot 47
Other Operational Reasons 16
Staff Absence or Shortage 88
Staff Industrial Action 2
Customer Actions 26
Track & Civils Defects 19
Staff Errors 32
External Causes 7
Defective Station Equipment 4
Security Alerts 3
Total 415
 This table only confirms my belief North West Londoners pay more and more in fares for a stagnating service. After the two years of weekend closures on the Jubilee, combined with intermittent works on the Metropolitan and Bakerloo line, it is difficult to believe the long-term gains in service justify the not so short-term, ongoing inconveniences.

I would urge all affected passengers to contact Transport for London for a refund. Not only are you entitled to it but as delays begin to cost Transport for London money, we may see effots to minimise these delays. TfL will refund all journeys with a delays over 15 minutes that are inside of their control, i.e. not weather or security related or caused by an external party. So 381 of December's delays would be eligible!

You can apply online for a refund here.

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31st January 2011