The recent fatal stabbing at Victoria Underground Station during the peak perhaps overshadows the news that crime on the Underground is falling. Tube managers say crime on the network fell by 8% last year, to less than 13 crimes per million passenger journeys, and that the number of police patrolling the Underground has risen from 450 to over 700. More gateline staff and over 12,000 CCTV cameras, (this number is set to rise to 14,000), have added to customer safety.
TfLs vision of a safer Underground, is a view not entirely shared by the unions who point to the proposed closure and reduced operating hours of ticket offices as a detrimental step and one which could even deter passengers. A loss of between 700 and 800 ticket office jobs is expected but say TfL, since February 2006 there has been a 28% drop in the number of ticket office transactions and a 47% rise in self service tickets. The loss of ticket office jobs, though regrettable, is necessary and justified.
Chiltern Railways, one of the first operators to accept the Oyster Card for local journeys are also investigating reducing ticket office opening hours though under the proposals outlined, Northolt Park, Chilterns only manned office in Ealing, will see a slightly, (30 minutes) extended opening time.
Spurred by responses given to EPTUG by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Mole MP, when they met at the House of Commons recently, Southalls MP, Virenda Sharma is now seeking to enlist the support of neighbouring MPs, Steve Pound (Ealing North) and John McDonnell, (Hayes & Harlington) to give added backing to the Ealing Passenger Transport Users Group campaign. Chris Mole, though sympathetic to EPTUGs case was unable to offer much hope of an improvement. Overcrowding and passengers being left behind though more prevalent at Southall was likely to increase across Ealing as more new homes were being and the effect of terminating the Greenford Line at West Ealing had not yet been fully assessed. It was felt that the united backing of the MPs would help highlight the needs of local rail users and ensure that promises made by the Minister would not be shunted into a siding.
Local bus driver, Benham Shalovi based at Greenford was a winner of one of the 7 awards at the recent London Bus Awards ceremony. In October last year Ben noticed a car being driven erratically. He stopped his bus, then discovered the car driver was having a fit. Bringing into play his previous services medical training he was able to clear the drivers air passage and keep him comfortable until the ambulance arrived.
The Southern Exit at Hanwell Station has been closed for as long as most people can remember and the reason for its closure has always been thought to be pressure from the Police. However when the Crime Prevention Officer from the Met Police attended the recent Ealing Council Crossrail Scrutiny Panel he could offer no specific reason for its closure. When Councillor Bassam Mahfouz highlighted the often overlooked fact that emergency vehicles called to a fire or accident at the station would take many more minutes to gain access to station because the closed exit and the narrow congested roads to the North of the station it was agreed unanimously that Network Rail should be asked to re-open the exit. Opening the exit would also, it was felt, increase usage of the station and help justify a more frequent service.
Chief Superintendent Mark Smith has replaced Chief Supt Mark Newton as head of the British Transport Police North London Region. Under Mark Newtons leadership a joint consultation forum was established crediting with helping reduce crime in that part of the transport network. Chief Supt Smith is anxious to ensure that the work of the Forum continues and promises to issue regular newsletters.
London Buses are to go ahead and re-route buses on route E3 as they head through Chiswick towards Greenford. Instead of turning left out of Sutton Court Road onto Heathfield Terrace, buses will instead turn right onto Heathfield Terrace and then continue to Chiswick High Road. The change, which will they expect will save 5 minutes on the journey time, is due to start on April 10th, though heresay evidence claims many drivers are already following this new routing. Route 27 also passing through Turnham Green is due to change too. Provided funding can be found the route will be extended along Chiswick High Road to serve the new business park and terminating too the north of the site. London Buses did however reject the suggestion that the route should continue into and beyond Gunnersbury Avenue even though this could have benefited many Ealing residents.
So now we know, the proposed HS2, Britains second high speed rail line capable of rushing passengers to Birmingham in under the hour will now start from Old Oak Common bringing with it unprecedented opportunities to regenerate the eastern end of the Borough. It will also mean another Crossrail station between Acton Mainline and Paddington answering indirectly pleas for a station from nearby Hammersmith and Westminster Boroughs. The proposed route will bring new life to the former Paddington to Birmingham Snow Hill Line which lost its traffic in the 60s following the electrification of the Euston to Birmingham Line. However the noise, the glamour, the steam and the dirt of the old trains wont return, replaced by the rush of air as the high speed trains speed past.
The HS2 line will also run on to Euston though mostly by tunnel. It is not generally known that when Brunel built his railway to Bristol he also wanted to terminate his trains at Euston where already the successful London to Birmingham Railway operated a regular service to Curzon Street Station on the edge of Birminghams City Centre and a future site for the HS2. Brunels railway would have been able to run through farmland to reach Euston and would have given a fine start to integrated transport but as always the powers that be turned down his idea and so a new station at Paddington had to built.