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Navin Shah GLA Brent & Harrow
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Navin's News: London Underground

NEW YEAR BRINGS NEW HIKE IN PUBLIC TRANSPORT FARES

In 2012 I want to see a safer, fairer and equal London and continue my work with our richly diverse communities in Brent and Harrow. To deliver this vision my New Year's resolution is to fight a successful election in 2012 and be part of the team Londoners can be proud of.

Right from the beginning of the New Year Londoners have been hit hard by a fourth year of inflation-busting fare increases from London’s Mayor. The fares in London are now costing over a quarter of the minimum wage take home pay and the increase hits Londoners hard at a time when people are facing a squeeze on their quality of life and the London economy continues to struggle under George Osborne’s failed policies.

This is the wrong fare rise at the wrong time, taking money out of people’s pockets when the London economy is struggling and when people are very hard-pressed. The impact of the fares increase applies across Harrow, Brent and London and across ages and income brackets. Every year the Mayor rakes in more income from fares than his budgets and business plans say he will.

Under the Tory Mayor the cost of a single bus ticket has risen by a massive 50 per cent since 2008. The price of a monthly zone 1-2 Travelcard is up 21%, costing £230.40 per year more and the price of a zones 1-6 Travelcard is up a fifth since 2008. Since Boris Johnson was elected in 2008 fares have risen to a staggering level:

  • Bus fares have gone up from 90p in 2008 to the current £1.30. Cost to passengers is £176 per year
  • Outer London is hit hardest. Last year the Mayor withdrew, in the guise of ‘simplification’ the zone 2-6 travelcard (£5.10), forcing passengers wishing to travel from zone 6 but not into zone 1 to buy a premium priced zone 1-6 (£8) card.

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New figures from the House of Commons library shows the increase means an office manager in central London earning £25,600 living in zone 1 or 2 would have to work for three weeks and three days before the cost of their travel was covered. A cleaner on the minimum wage (£11,730) would have to spend 27 per cent of their take home pay in order to pay for a weekly zones 1-6 Travelcard. A newly qualified nurse working in inner London (£25,411) and living in Zone 4 would have to have to work for 5 weeks and a day before they'd paid for their travel, whilst a shop assistant earning the London Living Wage (£16,013) would have to spend 21 per cent of their take home pay to be able to afford to pay for a weekly zones 1-6 travelcard. Hardly surprising that this year’s Annual London Survey showed that 48 per cent of people questioned said the price of fares were their top concern.

Against the impact of unprecedented fare increases by Mayor Johnson, Ken Livingstone is offering a ‘Fare Deal’ to commuters. He plans to cut fares by 7 per cent and slash bus tickets from £1.35 to £1.20. His proposals also include wiping out the Tory Mayor’s planned increases for 2012 and saving the average commuter £1000 over the next four years. That’s what Londoners want, and need.

Navin Shah AM

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13th January 2012

The Metropolitan: Lovely new trains, but as usual broken promises

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Over the summer, I hope you’ve had the chance to catch one of the new Metropolitan line trains being gradually rolled out over 2010. The Metropolitan is the first line to benefit from new ‘sub-surface’ rolling stock, which will also be used on the Circle, District and Hammersmith & City Lines. The new trains are lovely: they’re the first air-conditioned trains on the London Underground and have walk through carriages. The trains can also carry more people as standing room has been increased, but at the cost of a 29% reduction in seating. I can see the value of a ‘hop-on hop-off’ spacious train for short distances in Zone 1, but while I think these trains are perfect for the Circle line, I’ve had some concerns about the suitability of reducing seats on commuter journeys over long distances, as the Metropolitan line covers.

However, the signal upgrade is now dependent on the new coalition government's Comprehensive Spending Review and review of the Underground upgrade. Until the announcement in October, we can only hope the Mayor is effectively lobbying the Chancellor effectively on this crucial decision for the Underground, London and Brent and Harrow.

Unfortunately, The Mayor’s responses to my questions on this have not been straightforward. In October 2008 he told me

Question: The new sub-surface rolling stock will introduce a new standard in comfort with the introduction of air conditioning on London Underground trains for the first time. However, a decreased seating capacity of 29% will have major implications for the comfort of Metropolitan Line users north of Baker Street. What measures will TfL make to ameliorate the journeys of the commuting Londoners who pay the highest fares to travel the greatest distances on the network, and who are simply not serviced by a ‘hop-on, hop-off’ design?

 

Answer by Boris Johnson

Although there is a reduction in the number of seats per train, the line upgrade means a more frequent train service and thereby a greater number of seats available to passengers on the line.

This will allow passengers travelling from further out a greater chance of getting a seat and those getting on nearer central London a greater opportunity to get on the first train that arrives.

In December of that year I revisited the issue, after the collapse of Metronet meant a three year period during which the new trains would run but without the higher frequencies promised.

 

Question: In response to my question 2254/2008 regarding the new Metropolitan Line rolling stock, you responded “Although there is a reduction in the number of seats per train, the line upgrade means a more frequent train service and thereby a greater number of seats available to passengers on the line”. Is the Mayor aware the line upgrade, including the signalling upgrade necessary to run more trains on the line, was delayed by the collapse of Metronet. What does the Mayor intend to do for the three year period where the new trains are in operation without the signalling upgrade, with a resultant overall capacity drop of 29%? What measures will you take to alleviate this congestion?

 

Answer by Boris Johnson

It is important to note that there is no reduction in overall Metropolitan line capacity at any time. Overall capacity will increase with the introduction of new trains and timetable improvements which will be brought in both before and after the signalling upgrade.

It is also important to reiterate the fact that the current seating capacity is overstated. As I mentioned in my answer to question 2254/2008, the three seat transverse seat is often too cramped for three passengers. So while it is said that there are 448 seats on each train currently, in practice the number of seats that are available for use is 368.

On the latter basis, seating capacity in the peak hour will be virtually unchanged and London Underground (LU) is confident that most people at Harrow-on-the-Hill and stations north will still get a seat once the new trains are fully in use.

Following the completion of the signal upgrade peak hour seating capacity will actually increase. The additional capacity on these new trains will also provide much needed relief on the most crowded sections of the line between Baker Street and Aldgate.

Finally, it is important to note that LU is managing the signalling procurement so that there will be no delay from the original plan.

 

So, the Mayor now maintains that seating capacity will not drop because “the three seat transverse seat is often too cramped for three passengers”. I think this just shows the Mayor has never travelled on the Metropolitan Line during the rush hour! I’m sad to report he never responded to my invitation to ride the line during those hours to witness the seating arrangements himself.

 

Nonetheless, there is certainly a reduction in seating capacity, and the Metropolitan Line signal upgrade has now been pushed back to 2016, doubling the time with reduced seating to six years. While that’s a problem, we all understand TfL are operating in a tigh financial climate, as are all public bodies and local authorities, but I think this altercation shows we have a Mayor who is not straightforward with Londoners and whose justification changes when challenged.  

 

What do you think of the new trains? Please let me know

 

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1st September 2010

The Jubilee Line Upgrade: No Light At the End of the Tunnel

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spaceball.gifLondon Underground have this week announced that the closure programme to complete the Jubilee Line upgrade is likely to continue into 2011.

 

The Jubilee Line, as all of my constituents know, has being subject to the upgrade works since early 2007. Over the last three years North West London has been subject to regular weekend closures, rail replacements services and a great deal of inconvenience.

 

London Underground, which is part of Transport for London, concluded the takeover of Tube Lines, the private consortium charged with upgrading the Northern, Piccadilly and Jubilee Lines in June. At this point, while work already lagged behind schedule at over £100m over the original budget, it became clear there were a number of problems with the new signalling system required to boost capacity on the line.  TfL immediately announced closures up to December, but this week, following testing of the signals on Saturday August 21st,  it is rumoured to be unlikely the work will be completed before the end of March 2011.

 

When the Jubilee Line is finished, North West London residents will benefit from more frequent trains and shorter travelling time, but this is a distant reward after years of considerable inconvenience and cost to businesses and residents.

 

The closures up until December, which unfortunately particularly affect the North-Western end of the line as much of the work is in the Neasden area. These still may change at short notice so I would advise you to check your journey on www.tfl.gov.uk before you travel. I will of course post news as soon as I receive it. 

 

 

 

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1st September 2010