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Metropolitan Line

Questions to the Mayor of London – answered on 11th March 2020.

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Photo of Navin Shah Navin Shah Labour

I’m getting complaints from my constituents, and as a regular commuter on the Metropolitan line I share the concerns, about the ‘serious failure of TfL’ in providing an efficient service on the Metropolitan line in the recent weeks. There is also criticism of TfL for not providing explanations or apologies for delays and congestion. Can I please have an update on reasons for the poor service on the Metropolitan line and what is being done to eliminate this and how long we have to put up with this situation?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

I know this has been a very difficult time for customers of the Metropolitan line. In September Transport for London (TfL) rolled out a new digital signalling system on the line. Despite extensive testing, TfL only experienced reliability issues while running a full service with its trains in a live environment. The issues largely centred around the ability of the trains to connect to the system.

TfL has applied a number of improvements on all 192 trains, on trackside infrastructure, and on the central signalling system. These have had a positive impact, and there’s been gradual improvement in performance as a result of this work. TfL will continue to build on this.

TfL has been carrying out a thorough analysis of all failures – the type, cause, location and duration. All actions and their outcomes are measured throughout the day, reviewed daily by engineers, and weekly by the senior management team. This enables TfL to analyse issues quickly, prioritise mitigations and make informed decisions about next steps.

There is still some way to go until consistently good performance levels are reached on the Metropolitan line. TfL has been constrained by the fact that detailed design, testing, implementation and safety assurance work has to happen in small increments at night and on weekends in order to keep the railway operational for customers. In addition, predicting the point or cause of any single unique failure is not always possible, and due to the complexity of the sub-surface railway environment, recovery can be lengthy and challenging. I am assured, however, that TfL will continue to do everything possible to fully recover service, working around the clock on what is a world-first and very complex programme.

Although this has been deeply frustrating for customers, the benefits of the new signalling will prove to be enormous, bringing faster, more frequent and more reliable journeys to 40 per cent of the Tube network.