After last week's fanfare to announce Boris Johnson's nine point plan for London, the mayor has elaborated on point eight of his plan; cutting tube delays by 30% by 2015. Let's take a look at what the blond one's proposals are:
- Increased medical training - an additional 20 London Underground-funded officers and new response vehicles that will enable British Transport Police (BTP) officers with enhanced medical training to get to incidents swiftly. More detail here, but essentially the aim is to prevent a delay while awaiting medics to decide if a patient can be moved, hence getting the trains running again quicker.
- Spare parts - the BTP are providing an escort to get LU engineers to incidents more quickly and a trial motorbike service to carry spare parts to incidents has also begun, though we're not clear whether the BTP will be riding the bikes or the engineers. Spare parts are being stocked at common failure locations so that technicians can fix a fault immediately without having to pick up spares at the depot first.
- Incident response – engineers and operational staff to be brought together into a single command and control room to speed up the response to incidents. Senior operating staff will take over co-ordinating LU's incident response from the start of April.
- Dedicated staff are being recruited to improve train reliability at five key locations; Hammersmith, Brixton, Aldgate, Morden and Stratford. Reliability focus to generate new ideas - £50m has already been identified for reliability projects over the next few years which are being developed, implemented and tracked to ensure they produce real improvements for passengers.
- Rollout of automatic track monitoring - advanced signal monitoring technology and automated track monitoring systems are being trialled, allowing engineers to spot problems before they affect service and focus their maintenance efforts in the most effective way. Remote monitoring of equipment - through sensors and CCTV of signalling, pumps and drainage so LU can spot a problem early and fix it faster.
- More off-line testing - Jubilee line passengers suffered disruption during the upgrade delivered under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) due to a failure to test the systems sufficiently off-line. For the Northern line upgrade vast amounts of testing will be done on simulators which exactly replicate the line to iron out issues before the live system is introduced.
- Listening to the grassroots - LU is putting in changes to significantly improve how it engages frontline staff. Weekly 'war rooms' for every line and top management for each line meeting to discuss the top five problems on that line and how to address them.
- Accelerating pace, greater focus - for example; the identification of a problem where passenger emergency alarms cause delays due to accidental activation. The war rooms have identified it as a systematic issue and is working on installing covers on passenger emergency alarms on the lines most affected by this problem before the Games. Work is well underway on the Victoria line and is already showing positive results. The Northern, Jubilee and Piccadilly lines are also being addressed and this will be rolled out across the network.
This is all great stuff and it's nice to see some practicalities being discussed rather than woolly high-level 'we will make stuff better' type promises (though there is a certain amount of that). We do wonder though if some of this is already in place within TfL albeit under a slightly different guide. For example, we find it hard to believe that TfL don't already have an incident response team in place and that Boris's plan is basically to shuffle them about so they're all in one office.
We also note that the mayor couldn't resist having a pop at the PPP which as many will remember, was brought under the TfL umbrella in 2010 and subsequently described by Boris as a 'colossal waste of money'. He's also not missed the opportunity to highlight his promise to invest in infrastructure over Ken's pledge to shave 7% off fares. Other transport pledges include completion of Crossrail, expansion of the cycle hire scheme (which went east last week) and London's orbital rail network. More info here.
Read more about Boris Johnson's rail vision for London here.