Latest Rail News

19.09.17

TfL reveals ambitious plans to modernise Overground services

TfL has this week announced new plans to review and modernise its customer service on London Overground by utilising technology that best meets the modern needs of passengers.

Under the proposals, it is hoped that the number of directly employed staff will rise, and TfL’s reliance on agency workers will go down.

Transport bosses were also quick to promise that the plans will not compromise passenger safety, adding that all stations will remain fully staffed at all times.

Overground operator Arriva Rail London (ARL) will also start meeting with staff and trade unions to discuss a range of initiatives, including ideas to make staff more visible and available at stations, provide assistance and information where it is most needed and modernise the process of selling tickets to reflect how customers are paying for their travel.

ARL will also be sitting down with London TravelWatch and the DfT to consult and refine the ambitious programme of reforms.

On top of that, the number of staff employed in permanent mobile revenue protection and security across London Overground is planned to be trebled by early 2019.

“The London Overground network has improved enormously over the last decade,” said Jonathan Fox, TfL’s director of London Rail.

“We want to continue that trend and make sure that we are continuing to provide a first-class service that meets the needs of today’s customers.

“Over the years we have seen significant changes to how customers use stations and pay for travel and this exercise will enable ARL to consider how best to respond to these and make sure the Overground retains its position as one of the best train services in the UK.”

And Will Rogers, ARL’s managing director, added that as the London Overground network has grown, “our staff have been instrumental in adapting to customer trends, new technology and ways of working that benefit customers, communities and employees”.

“There is no doubt that TfL’s vision for the Overground is both strong and ambitious, and so we will work closely with them to achieve a joint goal of meeting the ever-changing needs of our customers and communities,” he said.

“Our programme aims to create a stronger London Overground, with a secure and skilled future for our employees.”

RMT ‘deeply concerned’ about proposals

However, not everyone reacted positively to the news. Union RMT, who are embroiled in strike action against Southern and whose members have already this year walked out on LU services, said it was “deeply concerned” about the proposals.

“RMT is deeply concerned about the proposals which in our view could see the elimination of ticket offices across London Overground,” stated Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT.

“Our experience in the past shows that, despite promises to the contrary, the closure of ticket offices leads to the wholesale de-staffing of stations with serious consequences for safety and security.”

Cash added that the plans had a “striking similarity” to the Fit For The Future model rolled out on London Underground stations, which the union claim lead to a “wholesale axing of ticket offices and a net loss in safety critical jobs”, and which sparked a long running union industrial and political campaign that eventually reversed a ‎sizable chunk of those cuts. 

“RMT is also aware that these proposals are being mapped out against the background of massive central government cuts to the TfL budget and those cuts could shape the eventual package,” he concluded.

“The mayor ‎must give us cast iron assurances that will not happen and we are calling for urgent, top level discussions around the proposals released by TfL today.”

The countdown is on to get your entries in for this year’s UKRIA. Closing date is 25 September. ENTER NOW! 

Comments

Jimbo   19/09/2017 at 12:04

The use of "modernise" in the title seems odd for a service that is only 10 years old, but they are talking about the modernisation of working practises which date from when the services were part of National Rail and BR before that. Of course, the RMT will fight this because they will fight anything that could reduce their power. Whilst passengers and staff may have concerns about some of the measures, the RMT fights it all indiscrimately - the good stuff and the bad stuff - because they only care about themselves, not the passengers or staff.

Dave   19/09/2017 at 14:44

Yet again London & the South East, how strange!

J, Leicester   19/09/2017 at 15:01

The Overground is already amongst London's best routes - what exactly needs improving besides increased frequency and reliability? The ticketing one in particular is an odd one, since the zone system functions perfectly fine and the overwhelming majority of passengers now pay by contactless / Oyster. I sense they'll be looking to boost phone payments, which is a pretty pointless venture that few will take up on convenience grounds. Still, continued investment in the Overground is a good thing - even if it's existence effectively confirms that Watford is now a London suburb! ;)

Paul   19/09/2017 at 17:57

This isn't an investment, it looks like a cut back with a lot of spin attached. Controversially for many, i do agree that ticket offices have become somewhat anachronistic in the era of oyster and contactless payment. I imagine RMT members rather like working quiet ticket offices where they can spend much of the day twiddling their thumbs, and are rather less keen on being put out on the station floor.

Neil Palmer   19/09/2017 at 18:14

Seems the only time RMT members are keen to be seen out mingling with the long suffering passengers is when they're carrying picket signs. Sure wish we could vote Mick Cash off the island.

Steve B Collins   19/09/2017 at 19:20

Sadly I think Jimbo has hit the nail on the head when he wrote: "the RMT will fight this because they will fight anything that could reduce their power. Whilst passengers and staff may have concerns about some of the measures, the RMT fights it all indiscriminately - the good stuff and the bad stuff." From the outside the mage the RMT gives is to make as much noise as possible to show its members that it does something. Other unions work behind the scenes. Neil Palmer wrote: "Seems the only time RMT members are keen to be seen out mingling with the long suffering passengers is when they're carrying picket signs." Yes, sadly that rings bells in terms of conductors 'hiding' in the rear cab for most of the journey doing nothing for passengers on board the train.

Andrew Gwilt   20/09/2017 at 01:04

Not forgetting London Overground who are ordering the new Class 710 Aventra units to replace the Class 172's, Class 315's and Class 317's used on newly electrified Gospel Oak-Barking, Liverpool St-Chingford, Enfield Town and Cheshunt and Romford-Upminster lines from next year. Plus the Class 710's will also operate on Euston-Watford DC service and to transfer the Class 378's to East London Line services. Plus with the extension to Barking Riverside. That will also allow the Class 710's to operate between Gospel Oak-Barking Riverside. Once the extension is completed. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Overground https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Rail_Class_710

Andrew JG   20/09/2017 at 11:12

Could London Overground could possibly take over the West Ealing-Greenford branch line and to use some of their Class 172's to cascaded from the GOBLIN line and replace the GWR Class 165/166 DMU units to other routes if London Overground does take over the Greenford line next year or when Elizabeth Line fully opens in 2019.

Mark Hare   25/09/2017 at 15:21

@Dave - Yes, London and the South East. TfL is Transport for London, rather self-explanatory; I don't believe they operate services elsewhere. What a surprise, another opportunity for Mick Cash to get his name in the papers with a quote. I note 'it is hoped that the number of directly employed staff will rise, and TfL’s reliance on agency workers will go down.' However 'the number of staff employed in permanent mobile revenue protection and security across London Overground is planned to be trebled by early 2019.' Either ARL currently employ a hell of a lot of agency staff currently, or the numbers here don't quite add up.

Pdeaves   29/09/2017 at 12:31

TOC: "We need to cut staff..." RMT: "No. We object". TOC: "We need to triple staff numbers..." RMT: "No. We object" I wish the union would make one policy and stick with it!

Add your comment

 

rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Yousaf urges DfT to begin urgent and serious talks on ‘unfair’ CP6 deal

16/10/2017Yousaf urges DfT to begin urgent and serious talks on ‘unfair’ CP6 deal

The DfT has defended its CP6 allocation to Scotland’s railways, arguing that the country will receive £600m more than it did in the p... more >
Launch of new GWR Intercity Express trains marred by major issues

16/10/2017Launch of new GWR Intercity Express trains marred by major issues

A delayed service, leaky air conditioning and cramped carriages marred the launch of GWR’s Intercity Express as transport secretary Chris G... more >
Computerised signalling system set to increase LU capacity by a third

16/10/2017Computerised signalling system set to increase LU capacity by a third

A new computerised signalling system that will allow trains to run closer together and increase capacity by a third has been successfully tested ... more >

editor's comment

04/09/2017A series of incredible events

There are a couple of announcements I’d like to make in this editor’s comment, which I believe could be very beneficial to many of our readers.  Firstly, the deadline is fast approaching to enter the UK Rail Industry Awards (UKRIA), which will take place on 22 March 2018 at Battersea Evolution in London.  Now in its fifth year, UKRIA continues to bring together the leaders and decision-makers running the rail ... read more >

rail industry focus

View all News

interviews

Pushing forward with East West Rail plans

21/09/2017Pushing forward with East West Rail plans

Andy Free, head of engineering assurance at East West Rail (EWR) Alliance, discusses the recent round two public consultation on the plans for th... more >
A game changer for Wales and Borders

17/07/2017A game changer for Wales and Borders

Andy Thomas, managing director for Network Rail’s Wales route, describes how the infrastructure owner will work more collaboratively than e... more >
‘In the rail business, we’re leading the way’

13/07/2017‘In the rail business, we’re leading the way’

Andy Milner, the chief executive of Amey, tells RTM about the transformation programme that has been taking place in the company since his takeov... more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. ... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

TCR’s Top 10: Our picks from a brilliant event

06/10/2017TCR’s Top 10: Our picks from a brilliant event

TransCityRail North (TCR) 2017 was a day (and night) filled with lively debate, inspiring speeches and plenty of opportunities to network and mee... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

comment

Form and function realised through advanced materials

25/09/2017Form and function realised through advanced materials

Paul Gallen, sector manager at the National Composites Centre (NCC), outlines the benefits that composite materials bring to the production and o... more >
Secure stations

25/09/2017Secure stations

Gary Heward, director at MFD International and a security consultant and member of the Register of Security Engineers and Specialists, managed by... more >
Optimising traffic management

25/09/2017Optimising traffic management

Taku Fujiyama, from University College London (UCL), and Lei Chen, from the University of Birmingham, on the work and early findings of the Devel... more >
A remarkable project

25/09/2017A remarkable project

Businesses from across the UK of all types and sizes will help make HS2 an exemplary project, writes Will Roberts, communications director UK &am... more >