On 1 June, Transport for London (TfL) took over a swathe of lines on commuter routes which were previously run by Abellio Greater Anglia.
You may remember that back in 2012, London mayor Boris Johnson published his Rail Vision report which outlined a slightly more ambitious proposal to take over rail routes in the north east and south east. The Department for Transport decided to let TfL have a shot at running the ones in the north east and lo, everything turned orange and started appearing on an increasingly crowded tube map. So how’s it been going for Chingford’s commuters? Not too well, it turns out.
On its first day of operation, services from Chingford to Liverpool Street were disrupted due to ‘an unexpected shortage of drivers’. Oops. That doesn’t bode too well, does it? Since then, the service has been hit by a series of delays, cancellations and reduced services leading to overcrowding. TfL has blamed Abellio Greater Anglia for giving them old trains (which is a bit of a case of the pot casting aspersions on the kettle) and promised some shiny new ones…
Boris Johnson has also admitted that commuters on the route will see sub-standard service for another two years. In the meantime, TfL has given the existing trains a bit of spit and polish — they certainly look a bit smarter — and invested £25m in upgrading facilities, new ticket machines and deep cleaning stations. It’s not been enough for commuters though — and why would it when you’re standing on the concourse at Liverpool Street, uncertain of when you might be able to get home, and hoping you don’t get crushed in the stampede for the train when it finally arrives? Unsurprisingly, they took to Twitter. An unnamed Chingford man set up the (now sadly removed) @TfLChingford handle to vent his frustration, which included such gems:
KA-POW! The 17:18 will also be skipping virtually every stop on the line. Don’t live in Walthamstow or Chingford? Tough s***. F*** you!
The 16:18 to Chingford will be delayed for ages yet still not quite long enough for you to be entitled to an actual refund.
Another resident used the medium of song to communicate her dissatisfaction in a genius reworking of that 90s classic by D:Ream ‘Things Can Only Get Better’.
Yesterday’s service wasn’t looking a whole lot better either — a surefire way to infuriate commuters on one of the hottest days of the year is to get between them and a cold beer at home.
In case you were wondering if the Enfield line’s passengers had got a better service, they didn’t, with delays on the first 11 days of running. Commuters branded it a ‘farce’. Just 89.9% of trains have run on time in the last month.
An online petition demanding the service be run efficiently has attracted 510 signatures, stating:
“The standard of service on the Lines recently taken over by London Overground has fallen to a level beyond unacceptable. As commuters we are outraged by the drop in service the moment that TfL took over. We feel the need to remind TfL that commuters have responsibilities at work or simply need to get to get to their destination.
“Particularly, the Chingford to Liverpool Street Service has suffered disruption, however, Enfield to Liverpool Street is suffering too.
“Also affected are commuters further up the line as they simply cannot board overfull, short trains. Trains are full to capacity as near as one stop away from the beginning of the line, you are not likely to board if you are at Higham Park, Wood Street or further on and no chance if you are at Bethnal Green or Hackney Downs. Simply put battery hens would not be allowed to be transported in the conditions we are being subjected to.”
TfL’s director of London Overground, Mike Stubbs said in response:
“We are working hard with our operator London Overground Rail Operations Ltd (LOROL) to resolve these and improve reliability and customer satisfaction as we have done with the rest of the London Overground network.”
Fares haven’t yet gone up, but it’s likely they will after a review by TfL a few months down the line. Get ready for a new round of complaints when that happens.