The Underground opened in January 1863 and earlier this year TfL celebrated its 150 years of service. It serves 270 stations and the eleven lines total 250 miles making it the fourth largest metro system in the world.
During peak hours they experience overcrowding as the system sees 3.5 million passenger journeys a day rising to more than 4 million on the busiest days. During the peak hours, more than 525 trains are in operation.
Currently they are spending more money on an annual basis in the modernization and upgrade of the tube because parts of it are so old. So while the Crossrail is a brand-new railway, they are working on the existing Underground lines, some of which are up to 150 years old.
The multi-billion pound investment program is helping to upgrade and expand the system and provide 30 percent more capacity. It includes new trains, signalling and track, as well as rebuilding some of the busiest stations. Right now they are in the middle of the largest order that they’ve ever made, Hendy said, in 191 new air-conditioned trains for the Underground.
With the increase in population and the propensity of people to choose to move by rail, the demand on the system is almost overwhelming, Hendy said. The signalling upgrade is one way they will gain capacity. “Traditionally our services run in the busy times 24 or 26 trains an hour, sometimes 28,” Hendy explained. “We’re now looking at 33 or maybe even 36 trains an hour, which is a considerable increase in total capacity when you think these trains carry several hundred people.”
The new trains with a different design will be straight through to provide more capacity within the train.
The third thing Hendy pointed out is that they are having to rebuild some stations because some of the capacity limitation isn’t how many people are on the train, but whether or not they can get to that train. There are massive station upgrades in place to increase capacity and curtail congestion.
Crossrail is a new railway across the center of London linking to the National Rail network on the east and the west. It will provide high-frequency service carrying 72,000 passengers per hour in peak times along the central section.
The project, which is just under 16 billion UK pounds, will be finished at the end of 2018. Hendy explained the funding, “It’s funded partially by a national government grant, it will be funded partially by fare revenue when it opens and it is also funded by a unique form for Britain of local taxation, which is a business rate tax levied on properties with the value of over 50,000 pounds in London.” He continued, “It’s the first time it’s being done and it was done after a lot of debate with businesses and it’s an indication about how much business thinks it needs public transportation.
“They were prepared to sign up for a supplement of the normal business rate for a period of 30 years to pay toward the scheme.”
“It is Europe’s largest construction project,” Hendy said. He also said it’s created thousands of jobs and it will secure London’s economic expansion.
The London Overground is an urban and suburban rail network that was established in 2007. The six lines cover 53.4 miles and has 83 stations. Though a TfL-branded service, the Overground is part of the National Rail network, operated by London Overground Rail Operations (LOROL). TfL sets fares, procures rolling stock and determines service levels.
“The Overground was originally two or three lines which are orbital rather than radial so they go around London in the suburbs,” Hendy explained. “We were originally given them I think really because nobody knew what to do with them.
“So we did up the stations, we have new trains and we’ve had an enormous upsurge in patronage.” To the extent that they’ve had to extend the length of the train to accommodate ridership.
He said they’ve proved that part of the national railway network could be turned into a good urban railway by applying metro principals to it: very frequent train service, attractive stations and new trains.