London Subway Must Be Improved Before 2012 Games, Assembly Says
London’s subway must be improved before the 2012 Olympics, after strikes and technical problems meant the five months ended January were the worst performing for the rail network in eight years, the city’s assembly said.
Labor unions and Transport for London, which operates the capital’s rail system, “need to reach agreement on future pay in the run up to the 2012 Games,” the London Assembly, a watchdog for the city, said today in a report. TfL faces “significant challenges” ensuring the Tube is more reliable while upgrading older lines and cutting costs, said the assembly, an elected body that scrutinizes the activities of the capital city’s Mayor Boris Johnson.
London’s subway, known as the Tube, was hit by industrial action over the past year. A strike in June ended just as the Wimbledon tennis championship began. Between August 2010 and January 2011 the tube suffered from “the longest sustained period of poor reliability since” upgrades were initiated in 2003, according to the report.
London First, a business lobby group, told the assembly committee that “we cannot go on like this, particularly as we approach the Olympics next year,” according to the report. “The Greater London Authority, TfL and the unions need to develop a much more constructive relationship and working culture.”
While strikes accounted for about half of the increase in delays on lines with the most delays, such as the Jubilee and Victoria, the main cause of the increase was from the failure of signals, trains and track, said Chair of the Transport Committee Caroline Pidgeon in the report.
Passenger journeys on the Tube have increased by 17 percent in the last eight years while the level of service provided rose by 2 percent, according to the report.
“After years of disruption and huge expenditure, passengers might reasonably expect to start seeing their Underground journeys becoming less overcrowded and unpleasant,” the assembly said. Yet, passengers should not expect to see “major improvements” in capacity and total journey times across most of the network for at least another five years, said the assembly.
TfL should take further steps to manage overcrowding and real-time information should be made available to passengers at stations and alternative routes to popular destinations should be advertised, according to the report.
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