Charity launches the Great British Spring Clean

Picture courtesy of Keep Britain Tidy

The charity Keep Britain Tidy has announced a month-long Great British Spring Clean campaign for 2019.

The initiative aims to encourage individuals, community organisations, businesses and government to work together to collect and safely dispose of single-use plastic from streets, parks and beaches.

In 2018 more than 370,000 people took part in 13,500 events around the UK.  Despite the wintry weather caused by the ‘Beast from the East’, a small group of committed volunteers held a litter picking event in Wanstead.

According to organisers, another initiative is planned as part of the Great British Spring Clean 2019.  Local residents, community groups and businesses have been advised to reserve Saturday 23 March 2019 if they wish to take part.

Campaign to #improvethecentralline


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.


Your questions about the Central Line


At the end of September 2018 the #improvethecentralline campaign will be meeting with the Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee. The aim of the meeting is to discuss operational performance and make positive suggestions about how to improve the passenger experience.

If you have a question about the Central Line you would like answered, please comment below and The Wanstead Post will endeavour to get a response.

TfL: management structure and salaries


As I was researching the Central Line on the internet I came across this document.  According to the URL it can be found somewhere on the Transport for London (TfL) website.

The chart appears to show the organisational structure of TfL in 2016/2017 and includes information about salaries.

There are a number of common sense questions which might be asked about this management structure:

  • What do the Head of Transformation and Business Transformation Director actually do?
  • Why are there two Senior Principals of Commercial Finance?
  • Why are there three Heads of HR plus a Head of HR Services?
  • What does the Senior Executive Advisor do?
  • Is it really necessary to employ so many people on salaries in excess of £100,000 when the majority of TfL’s budget comes from fares and grants from central and local government?
  • Are these salaries in any way performance related?
  • In what way are these people accountable to passengers?

In view of the deteriorating standard of service delivered across the TfL network, isn’t it time passengers were given the opportunity to ask these questions and time we were given some answers?


How to improve the Central Line


I write this after another disastrous morning on the Central Line.

I arrived at Wanstead Station at approximately 06.00 earlier today to be told simply “there are no trains”.  When asked how I was expected to travel to work in Central London the sole member of staff told me to “get the bus to Stratford”.

This cessation of service – which became severe delays later in the morning – must have caused misery for thousands of commuters.  As I left the station I saw many people running for buses desperately telephoning their workplaces to patiently explain that, yet again, they would be late, if they could make it at all.

My concern is the toll this situation is taking on the mental health of commuters who have no other choice but to use this line of doom.  The delays and regular cessation of service create a daily nagging concern for anyone who uses the line: “what chaos is going to ensue today”?  The situation leads to stress, anxiety, increased workloads, loss of time with loved ones and lack of leisure time.  This is not to mention the loss of pay for freelancers and the deduction of salary for people, such as those who work in the construction industry, for those who arrive at work late.  And this goes on day after day after day.

The reason given for the delay this morning was “late finish of engineering work”.  Surely with better planning and management this could have been avoided?  I think it is time for financial penalties for those responsible for the management and operation of the line.  I don’t mean the hard working operations people who do the real work.  I mean the Managing Director of London Underground, who according to a Transport for London document earned between £275,000 and £279,999 in 2017, and the Head of Network Operations and Resilience, who earned between £120,000 and £124,000.  Perhaps if the continuing appalling service directly impacted them the situation might improve?

In the meantime, please become part of the campaign to #improvethecentralline.

The MD of London Underground responds


The campaign has received a response from Mark Wild, Managing Director of London Underground, to a letter sent on 9 July 2018.  His letter is dated 1 August and was received on 2 August.

The letter recognises that the Central Line is “not operating as London expects” and suggests that recent signal failures have “masked some of the real improvements”.  It claims that teams are working hard to put things right and refers to efforts to deflect sunlight from carriages and encourage customers to leave trains if they feel unwell.

These initiatives are worthy but they are simply not good enough.  More ideas and creative solutions are needed to tackle the appalling service currently being delivered on the Central Line.  It is no longer acceptable to have an “oh well, there is nothing more we can do” attitude.  The Central Line is one of the most important on the tube network.  It carries hundreds of thousands of passengers to key areas of the capital.  The current situation, with severe delays almost daily and sometimes complete cessation of service, cannot continue because it is negatively affecting so many people, businesses and the reputation of our city.  The Mayor of London, Transport for London, the Department for Transport and all those responsible for the management and running of the line must step up their efforts to deliver tangible improvements for customers who pay so much to travel on a line which many now describe as “hell”.

There has still been no direct response to the campaign letter sent to the Mayor of London.  Preparations continue for the meeting with the Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee in September.

Please keep supporting the campaign to #improvethecentralline in whatever way you can.

Update on #improvethecentralline


Thank you to everyone who has supported the campaign so far.  Unfortunately, there have been severe delays again this week.

A meeting has been arranged with Caroline Pidgeon, Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee and representatives from Transport for London.  This will take place on Friday 28 September 2018.

The campaign has received a response to the letter sent to Mark Wild, Managing Director of London Underground.  Regrettably, the letter is from someone called Belinda, a customer services representative, rather than Mr Wild himself.  It contains the usual well-worn excuses and lack of aspiration so typical of those responsible for Central Line management.  This response and attitude is no longer good enough.  It is time to expect better.  Why is Mr Wild not responding to complaints?  Why is he hiding from the passengers who pay his salary?  He is – after all – accountable.

The campaign has received no response to the letter sent to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.  He has however found the time to give an interview to Time Out in which he claims he could beat the former mayor, Boris Johnson, in a boxing match saying: “I could ‘ave ‘im, all day long”.  If only he could take the same pugnacious approach to fixing the transport problems in London and improving the lives of the people he is supposed to represent.

Many responses to the campaign have referred to the issue of funding and the lack of investment in Central Line infrastructure.  While funding is undoubtedly an issue it is not the only solution.  A new attitude and culture is required from all those responsible for the management and running of the line.  The situation can be improved through ambition, aspiration, innovation, creative solutions and hard work as well as more money.

The campaign continues.  Please be part of it.

What can I do?


Tag @CentralLine and use the hashtag #improvethecentralline

Write to:

The Mayor of London

City Hall

The Queen’s Walk

London SE1 2AA


Mark Wild

Managing Director, London Underground

C/O TfL Customer Service

4th Floor, 14 Pier Walk

London SE10 0ES



Caroline Pidgeon, Chair, London Assembly Transport Committee