Q&A With Tony Arbour - 20th September

A meeting was held on 20th September by the member societies of the Chiswick Protection Group (CPG) with Tony Arbour, our elected constituency member of the GLA.

The following questions were asked - click on the question to go to the answer.

What are the new arrangements for Transport under Transport for London?
Can Piccadilly Line trains be made to stop at all times at Turnham Green station?
Can bus services on routes 27, 94 and E3 be made more reliable and frequent?
Can track noise on the District Lines be reduced?
Can District Line services be made more consistent?
When will 'Countdown' displays be installed in Chiswick bus shelters?
How can we get any CCTV cameras in Chiswick?
Planning in the GLA?

The following are extracts from the answers he supplied to our questions.

Q. What are the new arrangements for Transport under Transport for London?

The update was as follows. " The Transport for London committee (TfL) is accountable to the Mayor and responsible for delivering an integrated and sustainable transport strategy for London. To enable TfL to deliver the Mayor's integrated transport strategy TfL: manages the buses, Croydon Tramlink, and the Docklands Light Railway; manages the Underground once the issue of the Public Private Partnership has been agreed: manages a network of important roads, to be known as the GLA road network; regulates taxis & minicabs; runs London River Services; promote river for passenger and freight movement; helps co-ordinate the Dial-a-Ride and Taxicard schemes for door- to-door services for transport users with mobility problems; and is responsible for traffic lights across London.

"TfL is under the direct control of the Mayor as he chairs the TfL Board. With him on the board are another 14 non-executive members. (The Mayor) produces an integrated transport strategy for London; consults the London Assembly, boroughs and others on the strategy; sets TfL's budget; appoints the board of TfL; has wide powers of direction over TfL; approves fares (except taxi fares); has a say in how the commuter railways are run; has powers able to fund new services, make investments and introduce new systems. "

Q. - Can Piccadilly Line trains be made to stop at all times at Turnham Green station?

(Response obtained by Tony Arbour follows - he says he can be only a conduit on these matters but he has clearly asked for explanations).

"The short answer is 'no' because the current frequency of trains on the line precludes it and the increase in revenue would be insufficient to fund it. The Piccadilly Line offers the most intensive service anywhere on the London Underground network (and has done since September 1996). Trains travel at two or three minute intervals between Arnos Grove and Acton Town for most of the day. Under present track and signalling capacities, this can only be achieved by running non-stop between Hammersmith and Acton Town (a six-minute journey). Trains run less frequently in the early morning and late at night, allowing them to call at Turnham Green (adding one minute to the journey between Hammersmith and Acton Town). To enable trains to stop at Turnham Green all day, either trains would have to run less frequently on the entire line, or two further trains and at least six extra drivers would be needed.

"According to survey results, the marginal increase in revenue generated from stopping at Turnham Green would be insufficient to fund these additional resources in the foreseeable future, However, District Line services during the day have been enhanced to provide trains about every four to six minutes between Hammersmith and Turnham Green and every eight to thirteen minutes between Turnham Green and Acton Town.

"On Friday 18 August 2000, the Hounslow, Feltham & Hanworth Times carried three letters to the editor complaining about the Piccadilly Line. In one letter, Chiswick Protection Group secretary Peter Eversden said that they are concerned about 'the effect of airport passenger numbers on Underground overcrowding.' He also didn't accept that increasing the frequency of trains should he achieved without enabling all trains to stop at Turnham Green. He also demanded "investment for a better service". "

Q. Can bus services on routes 27, 94 and E3 be made more reliable and frequent?

Responses obtained by Tony Arbour were as follows.

"Route 27: Runs between Chalk Farm and Turnham Green via Camden Town, Marylebone Road, Paddington, Notting Hill Gate, Kensington High Street, Hammersmith and Chiswick. It's quite a long route that crosses a lot of arterial roads so it can get blocked very easily and is therefore prone to more than its fair share of delays. Contract with London United which currently runs the service is about to terminate and a new contract with First Centre West starts 11 November. The new contractor is committing more resources to the route to improve its reliability. Basically, the timetable is being revised to give drivers more time to complete their journeys and more turnaround time at either end of the run. This requires extra buses on the route to ensure that the frequency of buses remains the same. Buses on this route have also been diverted while there has been a weight restriction imposed on Olympia Railway Bridge. Work should have progressed to the point that buses will be allowed back on the bridge by the end of October. This should also improve the reliability of the service. We are also considering assigning more supervisors to the route so that if it gets disrupted they can take remedial action.

"Route 94: Runs between Acton Green and Piccadilly Circus via Shepherd's Bush, Notting Hill Gate, Marble Arch and Oxford Circus. A new schedule is being introduced on 11 November to remedy the situation. Bus times during the morning peak are being re-jigged to enable the service to run more reliably. [Note by P.Eversden - the main problem is the way buses terminate their west-bound journey at Shepherds Bush garage, instead of completing their route to Acton Green and then returning to the garage.]

Route E3: Runs between Greenford and Chiswick via Hanwell, Northfield and Acton. According to London Buses, recent monitoring, shows the reliability of this service is fairly high. LB is generally satisfied with how the route is performing but if the Chiswick Protection Group can specify when and where there are problems, then LB would be more than happy to follow up.' [Note by P.Eversden - more feedback from residents on the E3 service is needed. Also, it was noted at the CPG meeting that there had been a news release from the GLA dated 20th September 2000 which announced that the Mayor had ordered a comprehensive review of all bus contracts in London.]

Q. Can track noise on the District Lines be reduced?

Reply obtained by Tony Arbour was as follows.

" The trains operating on the District line are known as 'D-stock' and were introduced in 1980-1981. They are considered by London Underground to be exceedingly well-designed and were the first trains to feature full rubber suspension on all carriages. At the time when they were introduced, no noise requirements were written into the specifications of new trains (as they are now) but D-stock trains are by no means noisy in comparison with the trains on other lines. Noise experienced within the carriages is most likely to be caused by the age of some parts of the track or steel bridges which tend to resonate sound. It should be noted, however, that it is good engineering practice to reduce track noise because it is usually an indicator of wear. If a specific complaint is received, it is forwarded to District Line customer services manager Russell Cross. Section managers then attempt to pinpoint the location of the problem and inspect the condition of the rails at that point. If they find that the condition of the rails warrants it, they will then plan remedial action. If the complainant is still unsatisfied a detailed Noise and Vibration Questionnaire is sent to them to precisely pinpoint the location of the problem. An expert consultant may then be employed to assess the problem with special measuring equipment and make recommendations. The consultant's findings are considered by London Underground as a 'peg in the ground' base from which to proceed.

"CPG has written on several occasions to LUL over the last two years claiming that residents living close to District Line tracks complain of having their sleep disturbed by track noise and are worried about the effects of vibration on their properties. CPG has requested joint-welding on the parts of the fine that pass through Chiswick, particularly between Ravenscourt Park and Acton Town stations. Welding the joints between the rails reduces the 'clackety-clack' noise produced by trains passing over the joints. CPG has also requested replacement of timbers on the railway bridges near South Parade, Stamford Brook station and Bollo Lane, and over Turnham Green Terrace and Fishers Lane. In July 1998, LUL assured CPG that timber beams on railway bridges and track on the Chiswick part of the District Line were in the process of being replaced or renewed. Since then, the railway bridge near Bath Road has been re- timbered on both Piccadilly and District Line eastbound tracks and some rail joints have been welded on the Chiswick section of the District Line.

"In January 2000, LUL wrote to CPG saying that timber and some rails are to be replaced on bridges near Stamford Brook station, over Turnham Green Terrace and near Bollo Lane. LUL also pointed out that major work was carried out four years ago on bridges over Fishers Lane and noise monitoring was carried out on the District Line in May 1999. The latest correspondence from LUL to CPG dates from 19 April 2000. It reports that a Noise and Vibration Strategy Group has been established within LUL to ensure a consistent approach across network. Working methods have been reviewed with an eye to reducing noise. The author of the letter - public affairs manager Claire Filby - has brought CPG's concerns to the attention of engineers on District Line but needs more specific information about the exact locations of problems.

For legal reasons, LUL has emphasised to me the importance of not accepting liability for what they consider to be merely the resident's perception of a noise problem. I hope all of this proves useful. If you need anything further or have any queries, please either email me or call me on 020 7941 4463. Kind regards, Donald Holder. "

[Note by P.Eversden - this is encouraging but there are still some very bad joints from which noise can be heard when standing on local station platforms or walking in roads that the trains pass over. We should not have to identify each joint in a complaint because LUL should have carried out the work promised, as above, in July 1998 to replace rails with 'welded' ones. That has been done in some sections and for a lot of the Piccadilly Line track but it is the District Line that is closest to residents' bedroom windows. Claire Filby and Donald Holder will be asked to ensure the new track is installed on a priority basis wherever the lines are close to houses and flats or over bridges.]

Q. Can District Line services be made more consistent?

Reply received: " A new timetable is being introduced from 24 September 2000 designed to achieve this end. "

[Note by P.Eversden - CPG members reminded Tony Arbour of the 'half' service that will be provided on the District Line when the tunnel repairs between Earls Court and High Street Kensington are carried out in a few months' time. It is hoped that Rayners Lane Piccadilly Line trains will stop on the District Line platform at Turnham Green if there are any long delays in District Line service.]

Q. When will 'Countdown' displays be installed in Chiswick bus shelters?

Answer: 'Countdown is an information system that displays on electronic at bus stops information about the order in which buses will reach the stop, heir destinations and the number of minutes to arrival. The signs have already been installed in Hammersmith and the scheme will begin to be 'rolled out' further west in November and December of this year. All of Chiswick will not receive the new signs immediately, however, but the area is part of a scheme to install about 4000 signs all over London over the next four years. Current schemes underway in Kingston, Lambeth, Sutton, Wandsworth, Croydon and Edgware Road will be completed first and 600 signs will be installed this financial year. Countdown is being installed as part of the London Bus Initiative on 27 selected bus routes, 16 of which will he completed by March 2001. Stage 2 of the initiative will identify a further 40 routes for similar treatment.'

Q. How can we get any CCTV cameras in Chiswick? LB Hounslow has put many in other towns in the borough.

Tony Arbour has spoken with Chief Superintendent O'Brien and Terry Thorn of LB Hounslow. (Tony is a member of the GLA Metropolitan Police Authority). He has been told that the main problem with starting any new CCTV system in an area is the cost of the monitoring station, at 40,000 annually.

[Note by P.Eversden - CPG members pointed out that the existence of cameras and the taped recording of the images was all that was required initially. The London nail-bomber had been caught that way.] Tony Arbour added that LB Hounslow is one of only a few boroughs that have not applied for anti-social behaviour orders. Those orders assist in court proceedings, in that the proof of evidence needs to be made on only a civil basis.

Q - Planning in the GLA?

The GLA Planning Committee (chaired by Tony Arbour) reviews the Mayor's decisions but the Mayor could disagree with anything the committee recommends. The committee will be reviewing the status of the Unitary Development Plans (UDPs - local planning policies) of each London Local Authority. The Mayor can stop the adoption of any UDP which does not conform to the Spatial Development Strategy (SDS) and other policies and strategies of the Mayor. This year, fourteen London borough UDPs are due for scrutiny. It is not clear yet what form the SDS will take.

[Note by P.Eversden - objections have been raised to the LB Richmond upon Thames UDP, now in post-deposit inspection by DETR, regarding policies for Kew that would adversely affect Chiswick. The LB Hounslow UDP is now in revision stage - pre-deposit - and CPG's objections have been discussed and will be answered shortly. Tony Arbour needs to be kept informed on the results.]

In planning, the power is in the hands of the Mayor who can direct refusal on certain kinds of applications that are before a Local Planning Authority (LPA). The Mayor can 'advise' a LPA to give consent. He could appeal, if they refuse. 'Call-in' would be used sparingly as the reasons could be challenged at appeal. Developers put in many applications to London's boroughs before the beginning of July to escape the scrutiny of the Mayor and the GLA. It is likely that about five significant planning applications a week will be examined.

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