Transport for London reply to IDS regarding Central Line issues

I recently wrote to Transport for London (TfL) regarding the Central Line problems we've all been experiencing regarding safer trains and better services to and from Woodford; below is their reply.

Thank you for your letter of 31 October about the Central line. I have set out answers to your questions below.

Safety and security

We take the issue of safety and security very seriously, and we are installing CCTV on Central line trains as soon as possible. On-train CCTV is planned to be installed as part of our £380m Central line Improvement Programme to make all 85 Central line trains safer, more reliable and wheelchair accessible. It will start from next year, with the first CCTV-equipped Central line train in operation next October. All 85 8-car trains, that’s 680 cars, will be fully equipped with CCTV by the end of 2023. Given the scale and complexity of the improvements, and the need to keep trains in service, CCTV on this line cannot be rolled out any faster than the current timeline.

We work in partnership with the Metropolitan Police and the British Transport Police to keep Londoners safe on our transport network. On-train CCTV is just one of many tools that the police use to investigate offences on our transport network. For example, there are 12,000 station cameras across the Tube network. Oyster card data and witness statements also support investigations. The Central line is a priority for the British Transport Police, with regular plain clothes and uniformed officer patrols. There are also specialist operations taking place to target areas with the highest volume of reports. TfL and the police will continue to do all they can to bring those committing crime to justice until it is eradicated from the transport system.

Central line timetable

Aside from CCTV, the 380m Central line Improvement Programme will provide additional upgrades to trains including replacing their motors, computers and lighting, as well as creating more space for wheelchair users. The scale of this upgrade programme means we are unable to make the necessary improvements to each train during overnight engineering hours, and will need to operate with a slightly reduced fleet while these works are carried out.

We are therefore introducing a new timetable on 26 January 2020. This will ensure all customers continue to receive a regular and reliable service, while enabling more trains on the busiest section of the Central line. The new timetable also allows us to make improvements at other times on the busiest section of the line through central London, between Leytonstone and White City and increase services:

  • Monday to Friday 06:00 - 07:00, from 15 to 18 trains per hour
  • Monday to Saturday 22:00 - 23:00 from 19 to 24 trains per hour
  • Sunday 15:15 -19:15 from 22 to 24 trains per hour

The new timetable means there will be a small reduction in morning and evening peak services at Debden, Theydon Bois and Epping stations - from eleven to nine trains per hour at Debden, and ten down to eight at Epping. I do appreciate this is disappointing for customers at these stations, and we have tried to minimise any reductions. There remains sufficient capacity for all passengers to board the trains at these stations.

These changes will benefit over 100,000 passengers each day, compared to about 15,000 passengers who will experience a reduction in train frequency, or are required to change trains at Hainault.

As part of the new timetable, we will introduce a train service that acts as a shuttle between Woodford and Hainault, using four car trains. As they do today, trains will continue to run approximately every 20 minutes. On average, trains between Woodford and Hainault run at 15 per cent of their capacity during peak periods so when there are four car trains, all customers will continue to be able to comfortably board the train. Currently three trains run from Hainault via Woodford through to central London each weekday morning, and these will continue as eight car trains under the new timetable.

We will continue to provide customers with further information about these changes ahead of the launch of the new timetable, via email updates and meet the Manager sessions at affected stations.