Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Never Mind LU Morale, Think of the Passengers

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Never Mind LU Morale, Think of the Passengers

Article excerpt


Tube chief Derek Smith is leaving London Underground, complaining he is fed up with attacks on him. Tony Travers explains how a declining service made departure inevitable DEREK SMITH has in fact jumped before he was pushed. It was an open secret that he would be forced out once Ken Livingstone inherited the Tube from the Government. This week, in what he clearly knew would be a farewell blast on behalf of his colleageues, he complained about the Mayor describing LU managers as 'knuckleheads' and 'dullards' and its affect on morale.

The capital's commuters are, doubtless, more concerned with the daily disruption they suffer at the hands of the Tube's managers than the plight of Mr Smith's colleagues in their Broadway offices.

LU's own performance statistics (now published, thanks to the Mayor) show just how badly LU managers have let down their passengers. For example, the proportion of train services not run at all reached 10.2 per cent in January this year (the most recent month for which we have figures). The overall figures for 2000-01 are far worse than for any recent year. On the Bakerloo, Circle and Hammersmith lines, the failure rate was more than 19 per cent, while the state-of-the-art Jubilee line lost 18.4 per cent.

For peak-time periods, the figures show 1,027 trains did not run in January, equivalent to 6.1 per cent of the total. On the Bakerloo line, 12.9 per cent of rush-hour trains were cancelled, compared with an average for 1999-2000 of 4.5 per cent. On the Jubilee line, 12.6 per cent were lost, compared with 3.2 per cent in 1999-2000. Half the cancellations were from no driver turning up.

In addition, ticket queues are getting longer. The proportion of passengers waiting to buy tickets for more than three minutes (a very long time for such a simple transaction) rose to 8.5 per cent in January, compared with only four per cent as recently as 1996-97.

Victoria, Heathrow's stations, Hammersmith, Gloucester Road and Marble Arch have the worst queuing records of those surveyed by LU: in the case of Victoria, travellers can expect to wait at least five minutes longer than LU's predicted time. …

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