Crossrail is to run on tracks where passenger delays have totalled 5M minutes in six months, claim Conservative members of the Greater London Assembly.
The Liverpool Street to Shenfield line on which the delays occured, is currently run by Transport for London’s (TfL’s) TfL Rail division but will be used by the north east part of the Elizabeth Line when it opens in 2018.
The figures have been collated by Conservative Greater London Authority members for the period 9 May to 9 Nov 2016 following a Freedom of Information request.
The number of delay minutes was calculated by multiplying each minute of train delay by the number of seats on the train (assumed to be 318 per train), excluding incidents with fatalities.
The largest contributor to the delays was caused by passengers joining or alighting trains and accounted for 251,856 minutes of delays. Other delays were attributed to hot rails, also called “critical rail temperature speeds”, software problems, leaf contamination, sunlight on signal and staff being recorded as late or missing.
“These figures paint a worrying picture for the launch of Crossrail on this line later this year,” said London Assembly Member Keith Prince. “Train delays will always occur but the frequency and types of issues facing TfL Rail are largely preventable. Londoners should not be held up by trivial issues such as sunlight on a signal, lost luggage, or missing staff.
Prince said that he would ask London mayor Sadiq Khan to look into the causes of delays to ensure the issues were resolved before the Elizabeth Line came into operation. He also said he wanted to make sure that the mayor’s poor TfL investment record was not adding to the issues.
“They may seem like minutes to TfL officials, but to the hundreds of people being delayed on each train they add up, said Prince. ”A decade of passenger time could be wasted every year completely unnecessarily.
“What is most concerning is this exact set of tracks is to become a large part of Crossrail. The Mayor needs to push TfL to resolve these issues and ensure that Crossrail fulfils its potential to reduce congestion in London.”
TfL responded by saying that this method of calculation was not the industry standard way of recording delays and that it used the public performance measure (PPM) which showed the percentage of trains which arrived at their terminating station on time.
It also said that since it had taken over running the line in 2015 the PPM had increased from 91.4% to 94.5%, reducing delays by around a third.
TfL Rail operations director Howard Smith said: “Since we took over services between Liverpool Street and Shenfield in May 2015, performance on this route has improved significantly. Delays have been cut by a third and TfL Rail is now one of the country’s top-rated rail operators.
“Building on this success, there will be brand new trains introduced, alongside improvements to infrastructure ahead of Elizabeth line services beginning from December next year.
“Network Rail is currently undertaking an extensive programme of railway upgrades including renewing ageing track and overhead cables. The first of the new, higher capacity, walk-through trains with air-conditioning and improved customer information is currently undergoing testing on the TfL Rail route, and will enter service from May this year.”
A mayoral spokesperson said: “It beggars belief that some Assembly Members are prepared to scaremonger about the future of Crossrail – a world- class project that is being delivered on budget and on time, and will provide enormous benefits to passengers in the south-east, while unlocking thousands of new homes.
“Since TfL took control of the Liverpool Street to Shenfield line in 2015, the service has improved dramatically, with delays cut by a third. The line has gone from being one of the worst routes in the country, to being one of the very best.
“The reliability of TfL Rail is in marked contrast to the shambolic performance of providers like Southern Rail, where the Government continue to refuse to take any action to improve the woeful service for passengers.
“Keith Prince should stop peddling desperate nonsense, and get behind Crossrail – a project that will be central to delivering a modern and genuinely world-class transport network in London over the coming decades.”