Wednesday 12 September 2012

Back from a wonderful weekend at Bestival and back on the Tube things have got back to normal pretty quickly. The evening peak felt like a normal evening peak, the commuters have returned, the tourists have subsided and there is a distinct absence of purple and red volunteer uniforms. The big noise appears to be about whether the wheelchair access ramps which were introduced at 16 stations will be kept, whether they will be introduced at more stations and what plans TfL have for increasing step-free access across the Combine.

The problem with the ramps is that obviously it takes longer than the 30 second “dwell time” factored into the timetable to set them up, use them and then remove them afterwards. During the peak we only have 20 seconds and when you are trying to keep trains running at roughly one every 2-3 minutes every little delay mounts up. Another problem is that during the Olympics there were plenty of extra bodies drafted in from the non-operational parts of LUL/TfL to deal with the extra workload but they’ve all gone back to their regular jobs and Stations are now back to the normal level of staffing; would we have enough people on hand to deploy the ramps when needed?

As far as making the Tube more accessible currently out of the 270 stations only 66 stations are step free down to the platform and only 33 are fully step-free on to the train. Back in 2006 LUL promised that by 2013 a third of stations would have step free access but in 2009 lift installations were cancelled at six stations after some £20m had been already spent claiming that there wasn't enough money to finish the job. In addition at SHB £39m had been spent sinking two lift shafts and moving gas and water pipes before unforeseen complications were discovered and the project was abandoned.

The likelihood of the Olympics and Paralympics leading to a legacy of greater access to the Tube seems slim, Boris seems happy to throw money at big high profile projects which he’d initially declared wouldn’t cost the taxpayer a penny like the cable car or his bloody bus, especially if there is a decent photo opportunity to be had, but not something as mundane as making the Tube more disabled-friendly.

Meanwhile over at the TUC conference some cheeky chappy has caused some outrage by selling T-shirts bearing the messages “A generation of trade unionists will dance on Thatcher's grave” and “Hey Ho The Witch is Dead" beneath a picture of Maggie’s Spitting Image puppet.

Quite frankly I’m appalled; everyone knows it’s “Ding, dong, the witch is dead”.


  1. As a blind Central Line user, I agree with everything you've said, including about whether it is practical (as well as affordable, reliable, effect it has on the service, etc).

    Personally, I'd sooner SONIA was changed to announce London Overground interchange and some alight here for messages, such as Westfield at both ends of the line :)

  2. Mr Shrugged!

    hello, i had an incident today between East Acton and White City - passenger ill on an eastbound train around 10.20am.

    just wondered, when the PEA is activated, does the system tell you what carriage it's on, and is the station ahead and line controller automatically alerted, or is it something that you have to do? just wondered,


  3. Yes, DTS tells us which car has a handle down, I seem to recall that the Line Controller also gets an alert to say a PEA has been activated but the station ahead has to be informed by radio. There is a little blue light on the side of the cars that tells us where it is too.

  4. It's long baffled me why so many stations which only ever see one kind of rolling stock have a platform at the wrong height. Even if the cost of total rectification would be huge, surely part of the platform could be banked to provide level access, say at the driver's end?
    I notice that the extra entrances that were provided grudgingly at Leyton westbound, in case of Olympic crowd dangers (which proved mysteriously unfounded), are now conspicuously padlocked again.

    1. If you go on the Viccy or the W&C you'll notice they have humps on the platform at various points to enable wheelchair/pushchair access, no doubt very expensive to do that everywhere and not much use where there isn't step free access from platform to the street.

  5. To be honest it's frankly disgusting that people are saying they wish to dance on Thatcher's grave. For a start your boots would get ruined by all the piss.

    1. That's why God gave us wellies, I certainly didn't need mine at Bestival this year, renamed Dustival.