Are the Mayor's extra transport police having an effect already? First Capital Connect are cutting ticket office hours at 28 stations including Alexandra Palace, Harringay, Hornsey, New Barnet, New Southgate and Oakleigh Park, while the RMT reports Drayton Park is to close entirely (though we can't find any corroborating evidence). By coincidence (?) all these stations are covered by Boris's plans to add 50 more police to the mainline network in a bid to increase safety. Could First Capital Connect possibly be taking advantage?
The stations affected are quite isolated and have been the site of recent muggings and attacks. As local MP Lynne Featherstone says, "one of the key issues is people stopping using trains after dark because they are too scared".
22 jobs are at risk under FCC's plans and they're only one of the many train operating companies who are looking to shed staff. South West Trains are planning to cut 480 jobs and reduce the length of trains during the day, and Southeastern wants to make 300 people redundant and, according to the Standard, has already cut some services.
Even though the parent companies of the TOCs are still making millions in profits, they will claim the recession merits changes to their franchise contracts in a meeting with Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon tomorrow. Passenger numbers (i.e., ticket revenue) are unlikely to rise as much as forecast, so the train companies will ask permission to reduce services and staffing.
We would like to point out, however, that London Overground has pledged to keep stations staffed during train operating hours and if they can do it... So, even though London's trains are already overcrowded and it can already be difficult to find a member of staff to talk to, prepare yourself for things to get worse. Oh, and probably a lot of striking.