Published and promoted by Martin Francis on behalf of Brent Green Party and its local council candidates c/o 23 Saltcroft Close, Wembley, HA9 9JJ

27 Jun 2010

Brent Transport off the Rails - Planet Earth calling Chiltern Railways and TfL

No, not a scene from an early-morning weekday rush-hour, but the sight of commuters trying to get back to Brent and beyond by catching the last two trains from Marylebone on a Saturday night - the 2357 and 0010, to be precise. Both trains were destined for Aylesbury and were scheduled to make initial stops at Harrow-on-the-Hill and Wembley Stadium, respectively.

In the event, both trains were delayed for a good half hour with next to no information about where to board or when, just to add to the woes of the travelling public seeking an alternative route back home. This weekend, yet again, Brent residents had to endure no Metropolitan or Jubilee line trains in and out of the borough.

I shall spare you pictures of Brent in the region of the North Circular, daytime - think aerterial logjams galore. Nobody was going anywhere on the hottest weekend of the year. Throughout the general election campaign, I grew fond of quoting a friend on the hustings trail, "How dare we think of using public transport at the weekend!"

We need solutions, and not just in time for the unsustainable proposition which is the Olympic games in London. Greens campaign hard for a transport system that favours walking, cycling and integrated, accountable public transport. Why should not buses be able to carry notices of exactly which tube lines are down, and when, to enable passengers to plan their response to the disruptions? We don't all carry i-phones. Why should not passengers, sorry customers, be entitled to real-time display of bus schedules at Wembley Park station itself, following the multi-million pound revamp?

Shouldn't we be entitled to know exactly what work is going on for every single day a track is taken out of service? Without transparency we lack confidence in the justification for the closures, on a case-by-case basis. "Essential Engineering Works", doesn't quite cut it. An additional stop at Willesden Green when the Jubilee is down is no consolation when the Met is down, too! A letter-writer recently quipped that not even Germany in WWII could bring London to its knees quite so easily!

The scale and frequency of these line closures is affecting local businesses, too. Contrariwise, I do wonder what savings are being made by tube line contractors running buses instead of trains, surely a cheaper proposition? Why is it automatically assumed that weekends are fare-game for closure but not weekdays? Don't people also work at the weekend? Or doesn't non-working life matter? How dare we think of using public transport at the weekend?

Would you believe, on my way back from Wembley Stadium, whilst passing over Bridge Road at Wembley Park, I saw a Jubilee line train going southbound on what would have been Met line track. "Oh dear, TfL, Just when you thought it was safe to start running the trains without telling us? .... You get spotted ... at 0045hrs."

The impact of these continual travel disruptions is making a material and negative difference to the quality of life of Brent residents and their visitors. Politicians at every level, and of all political persuasion, must take an active interest in trying to reduce the misery which results. JS Mill once spoke about the greatest good for the greatest number, but this can't be it ... even taking future people into account.

The current disruptions are about as sensible as the real world response from the automated TfL service today - advising me to take the Bakerloo line to Oxford Circus and change to the Victoria Line for Warren Street in order to get from Queens Park to Euston, when the overground was running direct! I had to wait for an operator to get the confirmation I needed. I explained I'd been given duff information, and he replied, somewhat defensively, that the system wasn't yet perfect.

Nobody is asking for perfection. But this is beyond a joke.

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