Setting the strategic priorities for the Underground

Source: RTM Oct/Nov 16

Following Sadiq Khan’s first meeting as chair of Transport for London’s board, Tim Bellenger, director of policy and investigation at London TravelWatch, sets out what the organisation believes should be the mayor’s main strategic priorities across the Underground.

Transport is one of the mayor of London’s key responsibilities, so the election of a new mayor provides an opportunity to set out the key improvements that could be made on behalf of those who live, work in and visit London. The capital is changing rapidly and a major challenge facing the mayor is to ensure that London’s travelling public benefits from high-quality, good-value services that meet everyone’s needs.

London TravelWatch set out its broad aspirations for the new mayor in its ‘Transport users’ priorities for the 2016-20 mayoral term’ paper, published earlier this year. Some of the 10 priorities require only modest expenditure and could be implemented quickly. Others will take longer. But they all require a strong commitment to using the mayor’s influence and strategic powers to achieve a planned, co-ordinated approach.

 Sustained investment crucial for LU 

In terms of London Underground (LU), there must be sustained investment to meet London’s ever growing transport needs. This means a focus on completing the upgrades of the existing network and improving links to London’s airports, particularly at key interchange stations. It also means planning for Crossrail 2 and the Bakerloo Line extension to ensure that areas that will see development are effectively connected into the existing network. 

Improving interchanges to make the best use of scarce capacity by, for example, encouraging orbital travel is extremely important. The biggest scope for this is where National Rail lines intersect with LU stations – a station at West Hampstead on the Chiltern Line, new platforms at Brixton on London Overground’s South London Line or at Clapham High Street on Southeastern’s route into Victoria are some of the most obvious projects that could help achieve this. 

Similarly, improving accessibility through step-free access schemes also produces additional capacity for other users. 

Making strategic interchange stations like Vauxhall, Finsbury Park and Bank fully accessible will bring major improvements, as would smaller and less costly schemes, such as providing ramp access or new entrances at stations like Penge West on London Overground. 

LU has a reputation for high levels of customer service on its network and this needs to be retained and built upon, with well-trained staff at stations able to give passengers good and meaningful information about LU services and onward travel. Passengers also need to feel safe when making their journeys. 

Londoners typically use a variety of different modes to make their journeys and so services must reflect this too, with co-ordination between modes of transport, common ticketing and fares arrangements, good information that recognises the integrated experiences of London’s passengers, and disruption managed in a way that enables passengers to complete their journeys in a timely and cost-effective way.



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