The next TfL financial crunch will be wrapped in a purple ribbon, and labelled “Crossrail”.

Saturday 11th June 2022

 Guest Blog – David Leeder, Managing Partner, Transport Investments Ltd.

The much-delayed opening of Crossrail / Elizabeth Line once again raises questions about the corporate culture of TfL and the medium-term financing of the transport behemoth. 

The vast, clinical stations are now open, the shiny Bombardier trains are running, smiling families are excitedly trying out the new journey opportunities, and the media is – for once – happy. But pop along at the high peak, and the situation is more worrying – are there really enough passengers ?

And what does the recent history of the project tell us about TfL more generally ?

My sense is that the long golden age of TfL’s Blair Era subsidy-driven spending, which began in 1999, has just ended.

In summer 2018, serious people – up to and including the TfL board – apparently believed that Crossrail would open that November.  Even a non-technically-minded observer, who had casually noticed the status of the construction works in central or east London would have questioned whether this was likely or feasible. Quite how the contemporary TfL leadership team, some of whom had held railway operating roles, ever believed this is another matter entirely. 

Within 3 months, the project experienced a 3-year delay, and a circa 3 BN overspend – taking it back to the kind of out-turn cost that had been repeatedly rejected by HM Treasury as unaffordable during the scheme’s 30+ year gestation period. 

2000£ 2.8 billionSRA east-west study  Excluded Abbey Wood line and GW branches
October 2007£15.9 billion 
2009£17.8 billion 
October 2010 £14.8 billion 
2018 £17.6 billion 
July 2019 £17.8 billion 
December 2021£18.6 billion 



The overspend is therefore equal to the entire project budget as estimated in 2000 by the then-Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), albeit for a rather more modest version of the scheme than as actually built. Even allowing for the more limited scope of the 2000 version, it is worth remembering that this project was rejected by HM Treasury as offering poor value for money.

To TfL’s ( and train operating contractor MTR’s) great credit, the operations appear to run smoothly, and public reaction has been positive. But the general public and Britain’s arts-educated media class have no grasp of the finances of such projects, and we have since heard the predictable complaints about why project approval was ever delayed, and ‘why can’t we have more such services?’ – including in the northern “blue wall”. 

On the first question, the answer is that Crossrail always generated a mediocre Benefit Cost Ratio, for the simple reason that although the benefits were high, the costs were simply enormous. The 2022 out-turn bill will do nothing to strengthen the cause of heavy rail projects within Treasury thinking – especially at a time of public spending constraint. Crossrail now sits alongside Eurotunnel, High Speed 1 and the provincial light rail projects as a costly investment that is simultaneously, and broadly, perceived as a political success, but which is likely to undershoot the traffic levels which justify the expenditure on objective grounds. Anyone who has ever travelled on the extremities of Manchester’s Metrolink, or Sheffield Supertram, (or the outer ends of the Central Line) and taken a moment to count the passenger loadings will know what I mean. 

All such objections are routinely described in the railway press as “Treasury short-termism”, but the reality of economics is that money spent on Crossrail (or trams in Sheffield, or High Speed 3) is taxpayer cash that could have been spent on hospitals, or road improvements, or electric vehicle charging points.  Contrary to media consensus, we live in an age in which public spending has already reached a 40-year high, and deficits are further threatened by the cost to government of rising interest rates. We are not far from the kind of financing environment that forced the Labour governments of the 1970s into drastic emergency spending cuts to ensure their ability to finance government on international debt markets. And I mean actual cuts, not ‘cuts in the rate of growth in spending’ which many politicians and their media out-riders routinely describe as “austerity”. 

On the second question – why not in Manchester or Stoke ? – the answer is that none of the northern or Scottish conurbations is remotely large enough to justify such colossal spending.  They are simply too small, and the advocates of such city-region projects implicitly require that their pet schemes should be funded from London, not by local taxes. Regional mayors and the transport industry need to be more realistic about what is needed, and fundable. Manchester should see itself as a competitor to Lyon or Hamburg, not London, Paris or New York. These cities urgently need a larger local tax base, and more locally-rooted private sector growth. This is unlikely to come from building more tramways, but the UK political class has yet to define any growth recipe other than a vague commitment to better ‘infrastructure”. 

TfL’s 2021 Plan shows a Liz Line operating surplus (the excess of revenue versus day to day, non-capex operating costs) of 265m in the first year. By 2024, TfL were budgeting for a more than 400m surplus.


actualforecastPlanPlanPlanPlanPlan

2017/18 A2018/19F2019/20P2020/21P2021/22P2022/23P2023/24P
Passenger income83101140436776929982
Other operating income435181359366378
389
Total operating income87136321795114213071371
Direct operating cost-118-256-601-844-877-925
-955
Direct operating surplus/(deficit) -31-120-280-49265382416








5% income shortfall 



57.165.3568.55

Source TfL Business Plan

Every 5% shortfall will cost TfL between 50-70m pa. A 20% shortfall wipes out the entire surplus – and that’s assuming that operating costs are in line with plan. Given the state of post Covid rail demand, and upward pressure on wages and energy, this now appears hopelessly optimistic. 

The issue is not that the central section of the Liz Line will be empty, but that the overall TfL revenue line will not grow by a commensurate amount. TfL seems to have lost its marketing mojo since the 1990s, content to ride the huge boom in London subsidies, population and employment. But recent visits to the outer ends of some of the tube lines, or casual observation of the hundreds of lightly loaded buses in central and inner London, highlight the problem of excess capacity at many times and places. TfL’s politically-driven ‘one-size-fits-all’ fares policy, and nervousness about the ‘unfairness’ of locally-targeted promotions, make it hard to respond tactically to filling empty seats. 

It is also striking that for many station-pairs within central London, the Elizabeth Line time savings are surprisingly small – often +_ 2 or 3 minutes. There are exceptions – Farringdon <> Tottenham Court Road for example, and this partly reflects the indirect route through central London, and the typical TfL “all stations” journey pattern on longer journeys. 

It is undoubtedly true that the overall journey experience on the Liz Line is far more pleasant than the tube in central London, and avoids awkward changes (I for one will not miss having to use the Central Line at Bank for journeys towards west London). 

It is clearly the case that for through journeys from places like Abbey Wood, and ultimately metropolitan Essex, to and from the “west of the centre” (eg Paddington) The Liz will be far quicker. But who actually makes such journeys ?  Probably very few – and it will take time for people to reorganise their habits to take advantage of the new links. 

Work trip frequency has already dropped, peak spreading is well underway, and now many high-end London financial and services jobs are slowly migrating to “digital nomads”, who can enjoy a higher standard of living in Warsaw or rural France compared to Hackney, Dagenham or Eastbourne. For the less globally mobile, they can now simply stay in Berkshire, and pop into the London office two or three times a week when needed, and probably travel at off peak times. 

The entire project was predicated on massive central London employment growth and the resultant pressure on peak period travel – something that may now never happen.  Instead, passengers will rearrange their journeys, and the Central Line in particular will avoid the worst overcrowding. Most of the Elizabeth Line passengers will have simply diverted from the Central Line, Great Eastern, Great Western, and other local tube and suburban rail services which have been replaced or relieved by it. Indeed, it was journey time savings (not revenue growth) that constituted the bulk of the ‘benefits’ used to justify the project.

Some comfort will arise from the staggering, and under-reported, post Brexit increase in immigration figures, which has leapt from c300k pa to around a million. It is safe to assume that much of this will be directed towards Greater London and guarantees the medium-term success of the vast apartment blocks under construction along the line of route. 

The financial problem for TfL, and therefore HM Treasury, is that the Elizabeth Line needs to be quite crowded, quite soon, to stand any chance of generating an incremental cash surplus. 

Moreover the vast stations, long trains, huge new depots and heavy staffing all suggest enormous day-to-day operating costs in terms of labour, energy, maintenance and renewals. 

We have, of course, been here before. The creation of the modern Central Line in the early 1950s, and similar improvements to local rail services in places like Merseyside, Greater Glasgow and Tyne & Wear in the 1970s and 1980s were expected to generate huge leaps in rail traffic. In all cases there was some growth – but usually less than expected – and the projects became political successes, but required never-ending revenue support and periodic capital binges to replace life-expired track, signalling, stations and trains. 

Neither is it clear that the provincial projects ever really made a large, measurable contribution to urban regeneration – although there is remarkable cross-party political consensus that such projects are A Good Thing – especially when central government pays for them. 

My prediction is therefore that TfL will declare a new financial crisis within 9-24 months – when the revenue and cost implications of Crossrail to the overall TfL subsidy line become clear. 

TfL already has a ready-made excuse in the form of Covid, and Sadiq Kahn will also blame “heartless Tory cuts” for all and any problems. This will probably get them a long way with voters and the media, but it is easy to imagine that further drastic reductions in TfL’s politically-unloved bus network, and even some local rail services will be needed. 

It is a strange fact of economic life that Boris Johnson is perceived by a mostly-hostile press corps as a ruthless Thatcherite, whereas a better criticism is that he is a Heathite “wet”, shorn of the Europhilia, who spends taxpayers’ money with an abandon that even Jeremy Corbyn, after a drunken night in Havana’s Club Marxista , might find alarming. It is Johnson’s leftish economic policies that now place him in mortal danger with Tory MPs and members, rather more than questions of when and where he may have eaten a cake. 

There must now be a strong risk that any post-Johnson Tory government – under greater pressure to control public spending, to reduce taxes – removes TfL from mayoral control in fact, if not in theory. We are slowly moving to this point anyway, with TfL already on a kind of quarterly spending ration-book. The existence of the Mayor allows central government to deflect some blame for service reductions, but also makes the kind of fundamental reform necessary to reduce TfL’s overheads or operating inefficiency even more difficult. Ultimately this may not be a sustainable position, and a future government may conclude – as they did in 1984 – that if they are paying all the bills, they must also have greater day-to-day and strategic control. 

The real crunch will come in 2024/25 when a new incoming national government – perhaps a Labour-led ‘progressive’ coalition theoretically committed to additional public spending – has to confront the reality of an economic situation characterised by high government debt, unceasing demands for more spending on the NHS and social care, high inflation, and high borrowing costs. As in 1976/77, that’s when the real pain could come. 

Hold tight, the next stop is HM Treasury, where this train will be terminating. 

David Leeder is Managing Partner of economic and strategy consultancy TIL Transport Investment Limited, and was previously a director of National Express Group, FirstGroup and CEO of West Midlands Travel. 

32 thoughts on “The next TfL financial crunch will be wrapped in a purple ribbon, and labelled “Crossrail”.

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  1. The analogy with Sheffield’s Supertram, where there have been no extensions since 1995 beyond the Government-driven and ludicrously over-budget tram train project, is not perhaps the most apposite.

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    1. Yes, ‘Anyone who has ever travelled on the extremities of Manchester’s Metrolink, or Sheffield Supertram, (or the outer ends of the Central Line) and taken a moment to count the passenger loadings will know what I mean’ – and the same could be said of most A-roads and several stretches of motorway, as various times of the day/night. It’s good to have one’s views challenged, but I think David Leeder is displaying his bias a bit too clearly.

      I’m not saying that TfL is perfect – clearly they are not – but London has lived through an era when all public transport was privately owned and operated, and that was not very pretty either (except for the liveries, which were generally excellent!). And it was certainly not operated as a well-integrated network (apart from the Yerkes empire which, to some extent learned early the merits of high-frequency services, but which had other aspects which have – thank heaven – been consigned to history).

      To me, the lesson of Crossrail is that indeed, contrary to the Treasury view, it should have been built much earlier, to the lower specifications, and at lower cost. Then, though it might not have been quite so gloriously big and modern, it would nevertheless have been there in the years it was really needed – and there is a value to ‘right-time’…

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  2. Transport for London (TfL), which is in charge of the Elizabeth Line, formerly known as Crossrail, said this weekend that it was planning for a range of 130 million to 170 million passengers a year by 2026 — not the 277 million it had predicted in a business plan published three months before Covid struck.

    The revised figures using the most optimistic figure put the Elizabeth line passengers numbers 40% down. Which must mean the line will make a large loss

    Most of the Elizabeth line as well is existing lines ie Shenfield to Liverpool Street and Reading to Paddington

    The Abbey Wood section of the Elizabeth Line largely competes with the existing line. I have seen no figures yet though as to how much impact the Elizabeth line has had on those passenger numbers

    There could be a lot of changes to travel patterns. If you say want to travel from Essex to Heathrow the logical way to go now is to Liverpool Street and then the Elizabeth line. It could even impact Arriva’s Greenline 724 bus . The central line is another one likely to be impacted

    Probably to early to tell the real impact but it looks as if the Elizbeth line will blow another big hole in TfL’s budget
    This will come from passenger numbers down on Elizabeth forecast as well as passenger numbers down on other TfL line

    With Tfl already facing a £500M hole in its budget it is not looking good. If tourism recovers that could help a bit but with inflation high a lot of people will be cutting back on travel for leisure

    With passenger numbers on rail in general still down about 20% costs are going to have to be cut. There is no other option but the rail unions will not like that

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  3. I find it depressing that there’s no mention in this article of climate change and car dependency and the desperate need to move journeys off cars and onto public transport. These facts need to fill every political decision.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Outside of London and the large cities though there is simply no viable public transport. To get to and from work the car is the only option again if you want to get to a hospital the car is the only real option

      Work patterns are changing as well very many people have hybrid working where they work part of the week at home and part in the office. This has huge benefits, You need less office space. You get less road and rail congestion and fewer road accidents so a bit less strain on the NHS and emergency service. It also probably has health benefits as commuting can be quite stressful

      For those jobs where working from home is not possible a 4 day week is being looked at. There is currently a large trial of it underway already. Experience from Iceland indicates it increases productivity and reduces costs. So things are changing in a very big way

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I too was surprised by the lack of any mention of modal shift. Not only onto the Elizabeth Line, but also on to the lines where valuable extra capacity (Central Line, I’m looking at you) has been freed up.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I appreciate the distinction between “actual cuts” and “cuts in the rate of growth in spending” – at least in a low-inflation or constant prices economy. However wwth current and projected high inflation (at least by the standards of the last 30 years) the comparison needs to be adjusted into “real terms” spending.

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  5. Much sense is spoken in the article, but it is depressing. The pandemic has caused people to question their travel habits in a way that generations of travel planners could only dream of. The problem is that car traffic has largely bounced back, but public transport has not

    Currently in many areas passenger numbers are at the 60-80% level that removes profit and justification for further investment.

    The Beeching approach to bus services being taken across much of the country, with evening, weekend or even whole services being withdrawn means that fewer people will be able to make whole journeys by public transport. Those without a car will find it narrows their employment choices; those with cars will not find public transport attractive.

    Hybrid working goes against decades of fare policy, where season tickets were competitive but individual fares were expensive.

    A further factor is that some people will want to avoid groups and therefore public transport.

    One point that I did wonder about was the quietness of outer area trans. All city based tram networks in the UK are based on city hubs, where the main attractor is the city centre and the outer termini are either residential areas, often with plenteous parking or smaller town centres and so operate on the basis of increasing passenger numbers as they approach the city. City to city travel, which could be symmetrical is catered for by trains.

    The article makes a compelling case for a substantial reduction in public transport investment,vwhich is both sensible and depressing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I also find it depressing that climate change and car dependency do not feature. However, the story is clearly another of those which rely on 20/20 hindsight to pick on perceived faults of a project designed at a time when Covid – for example – was nowhere near the horizon.

    Major infrastructure projects such as Crossrail take many years to plan and execute. You cannot change the route or design principles at a whim. So the line was developed to serve the travel needs of a public who had no idea about what was to come. What does the writer suggest? That work be stopped so that an alternative can instantaneously be put in place?

    As well as providing alternative travel options, one of the aims of Crossrail was to reduce crowding on existing lines (such as the Circle and Central lines), otherwise there would be little benefit in the project as a whole but the writer seems to call this into question for some reason.

    So, as with many other past schemes, Crossrail will be there ready to carry passengers to where they need when traffic levels increase again and many will find that there is a very useful alternative to past travel patterns.

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  7. I agree with Trevor’s comments. Underground usage is recovering, albeit slowly and I feel this post presents an unnecessarily gloomy outlook. I predict the Elizabeth line will become busy quite quickly and will help the recovery by improving perceptions of public transport generally. Look at the Jubilee Line Extension through what was mostly still derelict docklands in the 90s, it didn’t take long for trains to become full, extra carriages had to be added and peak frequencies increased. The original Crossrail proposal was altered to serve Canary Wharf/Isle of Dogs because the JLE was struggling. London will recover from Covid, just look at all the building work going on, it hasn’t come to a halt and construction companies don’t seem to be worried.

    Trains may be lightly used on outer sections but it may be off peak savings from cutting them would save little and would put people off travelling. On the Underground frequency is the most important attractor. For example if the Epping service on the Central line was reduced to half hourly it would lose much of its appeal and there would probably be calls to close the line which would benefit no one.

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  8. I must say that we found the Elizabeth Line very busy when travelling between Paddington and Liverpool Strett last Saturday lunchtime. Despite the longer walk at L’pool Street, it was far quicker than our old route using the Circle Line, complete with a change at Edgware Road.

    Here in Cardiff our local bus route seems to be picking up nicely, Despite being a centre-to-periphery route, it seems to do quite a lot of intermediate work as well, and is helped by the fact of terminating at a major supermarket.

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  9. Re mode shift, car has a very small share for journeys to/from central London, so this is likely to be a minimal effect. Neither is it clear that a massive railway, with huge embedded carbon, has a large and positive per journey emissions effect, unless it is operating to very high load factors. The justification for this project are 1 to reduce journey times and 2 to increase capacity within the network.

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  10. In the end you have budget. Are Londoners prepared to pay higher fares and higher council tax to maintain the current services ?. The budget hole is currently £500,000 and increasing

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I live in the 2nd City Brum our buses run from 04:30 to 01:00 364 days a week & 91% of it is commercial. TfWM have a budget other areas can only dream off and target it specifically and most of time excellently. We have our own Oystercard called Swift which is multi modal you really wonder at times why the London model is so revered when we do the opposite in Brum so sucessfully

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    1. It seems to be a surprise to many of us that we aren’t all the same, and the same things don’t necessarily work to the same degree everywhere.
      I’d assumed it was called Crossrail because we were keeping our fingers crossed; and perhaps many of us are keeping our legs crossed too.

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  11. So when Covid hit and there was a realisation that post-pandemic working and travel patterns were going to change, what should they have done?

    Downed tools on a 90% complete project and gone, nah it’s never gonna work?

    Seems odd to criticise TfL for that.

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    1. TfL though does need to adjust service to the reality that passenger numbers are about 20% down

      A figure given by Grant Shapps was the railways are subsidised to the tune of £600 per household

      Given the vast majority of people dont use the railways can that level of subsidy be justified and my answer is no

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  12. It somewhat depresses me that most of the comments don’t seem to relate the the issues raised in the article. Crossrail was a dubious financial project and was based on some very heroic financial projections.It always baffled me that it would generate a massive (£400m?)financial surplus after its running costs, even though whilst it offered faster and more pleasant journeys, it did not offer anything new. Both of the east and west legs were simply transferred from National Rail and the vast majority of other journeys would simply be transfers from other Underground lines. Having started construction Tfl had to finish it, although whomever was responsible for thinking that it would open on time 4 months from when it failed to open is guilty of criminal negligence.

    On the subject of climate change as the author rightly points out there is plenty of embedded carbon in this massive project. To help climate change it would need to divert journeys from the car (moving to electric anyway). If it generated lots of new journeys that actually does not assist climate change. What actually appears to be happening in Central London is that bus journeys are down, and cycling and E bikes are gaining market share .

    The author is saying that what was a dubious financial case prior to COVID could turn out to be a millstone around TfL’s neck now , when journeys across the Central area are much reduced. Tfl is currently reducing Central London bus routes as buses are flexible and can be reduced, but this could well depress bus patronage even further. And currently Tfl has no idea how to make meaningful reductions in costs on the Tube.

    I don’t think the article is depressing, it highlights one of the many financial issues that our transport network is facing post COVID, and also points out that there is no rational debate as to how these issues can be resolved as all the various politicians are only interested in scoring political points.

    It’s not clear to me how this financial issue, and those of the National Rail Network ,regional light rail services and the National Bus network are going to be resolved . All require either significant cuts or more money, and there has been no intelligent debate so far on these subjects. It would be nice to think that this article is a start.

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    1. I you take LU and in particular the Central section there is plenty of scope to reduces service with out inconveniencing passengers, Doe it really make much difference to passengers if the frequency is reduced from every minute to every ay 90 seconds ?

      Sone central London stations in central London that are little used and have other stations nearby could be closed. Some stations could have reduced opening hours at weekends

      Costs have to be reduced somehow or fares increased considerably

      I would say on the railways there is lot off scope to educe costs considerably. TfL also needs to look at new projects many of them my no be of dubious financial value

      Should the Elizabeth line have been built? I can see the case for the Central section but the case for linking it to the Shenfield and Reading lines was very dubious at least initially

      Tfl has a few weeks left to come up with its proposals to reduces its operating loss

      Khan still seems to be suggesting that passengers numbers will recover. There seems little sign of that happening though

      TfL has given a lot of focus on initial passengers numbers on the line but they are well below the original forecast

      The central section of he line is now open well with the exception of Bond Street station. Passenger numbers may increase a bit more when the line ids fully open but I would not expect the passenger numbers to increase much more as it mainly just cuts out a change of trains

      What we do not have at present is how many passengers have been lost from other TfL rail to the Elizabeth line. It will certainly be quite a few and that could have a significant impact of the financial performance of those lines

      Some people want no cuts but if that is the case £500M has to be found from somewhere

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  13. A good, thought provoking article. Leaving aside the Political balance, it addresses some of the issues around funding Infrastructure and Public Transport while pulling punches – or perhaps not wanting to swing at all – at the other massive part of getting a Big Project done in this Country: The whole Construction Industry.

    The business case for Crossrail may indeed have been precarious (lots of Big Infrastructure tends to be that way – I understand the Treasury wasn’t keen on funding the D-Day Landings) but it had one thing going for it not mentioned here – the constant lobbying by Friends of the Current Govt (the is always a Current Govt and this particular Industry is very good at donating to it) which was probably just as instrumental in getting it over the funding line as any actual “benefit” to the Nation.

    The brutal cost overuns attract scathing headlines, and little else in what passes for National Media. Nobody actually gets held to account for them, or the fact that they were obviously going to happen being widely known and expected. The Politicos catch some “blame” but then nobody actually expects them to have the competence to know what they are looking at on a balance sheet.

    Those that do keep their heads down, keep their heads and wait for the next opportunity to inflate a Big Project so as to pad balance sheets for a decade to come.

    When the M25 was built it was initially viewed from Treasury to Media as a staggeringly expensive overprovision – we know differently now.

    The current rules of Gravity may have been badly disrupted by the Pandemic, but if things DO return to a decade or more of business as usual – and that is the current Political impetus despite 4-day weeks and digital nomads – then Crossrail is likely to be less of a “disaster ” than alluded to here – space on Transport tends to fill over time and WILL do so here even if only to the relief of the Central Line.

    The important question then becomes does the drumbeat to Crossrail 2 – already started by Boris and Friends on National TV – represent any better use of Public Funds than quite a few other perhaps more deserving schemes?

    If Financial oversight remains as slack as for 1, the answer is likely to be no, but it’s happening anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Heads should have rollrd over this. Clearly in my view those at the top were hiding the real state of progess or were hopelessly incompetent. THere would have been regular project meetings showing progess. I have worked on large projects not construction or anywhere near as large as Crossrail. There is no way you can go from being weeks away from completion to being years late

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      1. Absolutely it was outrageous that the original CrossRail board were paid out bonuses on targets being achieved and the mayor didn’t pursue any recovery.

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  14. Well it could be all change for London bus. Tower transit has been sold to Stagecoach and the owners of Tower Transit have made an offer for GoAhead which the GoAhead board have said they will accept if the offer is made firm. Stagecoach are being sold to DWS and an offer has been made for First Bus but this offer has been rejected

    Interesting times

    I wonder how much interest Kelsian Group Ltd will have in the Goahead operation outside of London most of which are loss making

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  15. TfL have rejected the goverenments final funding offer. It looks as if TfLwill go into a section 114 order the public sector equivalent of administration
    The government could as well take control of TfL

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    1. Posturing by Shapps and Khan. The former will be out on his ear in a few weeks and new SoS will stabilise the situation even if the wrangling continues to carry on over the deal.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Problems with the Elizabeth line already. It appears sections of the line do not have the capacity which looks as if it will cause lots of problems

    One of the most unusual compromises which has been made is a decision to bring trains to a standstill for between one and seven minutes on tracks between stations so they can ‘wait their turn’. In order to get around slow freight trains on the West London section of the route and slot into the intense 16 to 22 trains per hour in the central section in the right order, trains will wait on the tracks at Westbourne Park on the line between Acton Main Line and Paddington. There are no platforms here so passengers cannot leave the trains, and in some cases the following GWR train from Ealing Broadway ends up overtaking the Elizabeth line train on its way to Paddington.

    Trains from Ealing to Paddington are being slowed down so instead of 9 minutes it will take 17 minutes

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