On Friday 28 September 2018 the campaign to #improvethecentralline met with Caroline Pidgeon, Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, and Chris Taggart, Head of Line Operations at the Central Line. We spent about an hour discussing the following issues:
- The campaign shared the frustration and anger of passengers about the unreliability of the service during July and August. Mr Taggart felt this was due to a confluence of unfortunate events and the service had improved during September.
- The campaign confirmed a major overhaul of the fleet had been completed in May 2018 and despite some initial problems this should result in a better service. However, both sides acknowledged that substantial improvements, such as new trains with air cooling, were unlikely for some time due to financial considerations.
- The campaign raised a specific point about the number of trains travelling to Epping. Mr Taggart confirmed that the organisation of the timetable does distribute trains equally between Epping and Hainault but on occasion – due to trains being taken out of service for operational reasons – it may appear as if one destination is being favoured. However, this is not the case.
- The campaign raised concerns about the stop/start nature of journeys due to poor signalling and the delays to trains entering Leytonstone. Mr Taggart stated he would review these concerns and examine ways to speed up the movement of trains through the station.
- The campaign acknowledged that although investment was being made in the line these ‘under-the-bonnet’ improvements were not always clear to passengers. Mr Taggart agreed to explore ways of communicating better.
- The campaign pointed out that despite the huge problems with overcrowding passengers had a part to play in helping to ensure a good service could be maintained. Passengers should make way for people leaving trains, board quickly and ensure items are not trapped in train doors.
- The campaign expressed concerns about a general lack of customer service on the line and that staff should try to be more helpful when problems did occur. Mr Taggart acknowledged this feedback and would explore ways to improve the situation.
It was useful to have the opportunity to share some of the frustrations of passengers with Mr Taggart who in no way shied away from the issues raised. The impression given was that there is a genuine willingness to work harder and try to make the line better. The work goes on and the campaign for further improvements will continue.