New map for Underground stations called ‘Avoiding Stairs Tube guide’ and also a’toilet map’!

A new Tube guide has been added to the TfL website at www.tfl.gov.uk/accessguides which shows customers how to avoid stations with stairs.

London Underground, which started in 1863, is the oldest metro system in the world and many of its stations were built in Victorian and Edwardian times when passengers who had mobility problems were not a priority.

Putting lifts into existing Tube stations is often extremely difficult and expensive but Transport for London (TfL) has invested hundreds of millions of pounds in doing this, as well as building new Tube, London Overground and DLR stations which all have step-free access. TfL has increased the number of Tube stations which have step-free access to 62 and this will rise to 65 when lifts are installed at Green Park, Blackfriars and Farringdon before the 2012 Games.  The Tube Upgrade Plan will continue redeveloping key stations and installing lifts.

In the meantime London Underground has issued a new ‘Avoiding Stairs Tube guide’, which will be useful for anyone who may have difficulty using stairs but can manage escalators. This will include older people, customers with heavy luggage, parents with pushchairs and people with physical disabilities who do not use a wheelchair.

The map highlights stations where customers can reach the platforms or change trains via escalators, lifts or ramps, or where the platforms are already at street level. Stations where this access is not possible are greyed out on the map.

The map differs to the ‘Step-Free Tube map’ which shows step-free stations suitable for wheelchair users, which have lifts from street to platform level or ramps; and includes more detailed information including the size of steps and gaps between train and platform.

Wayne Trevor, London Underground’s Accessibility & Inclusion Manager said: “With the funding we have we are installing lifts to make as many Tube stations free of steps as we can, currently 62 increasing to 65 by next year.

 “However, we know that many people have difficulties in walking up and down long flights of stairs, but can manage escalators and have produced the ‘Avoiding Stairs Tube Guide’ to reflect these needs. These are very different to the difficulties faced by wheelchair users and so we wanted to provide a map that more accurately reflected these needs.”

At www.tfl.gov.uk/accessguides  there is also an Audio Tube map, Tube toilet map, a large print Tube map and the Step-Free Tube map.


 

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Have you caught a bus recently? Biggest 12 months for London Buses for 50 years.

Bus travel in London highest in 50 years

London Buses have carried more passengers and travelled more kilometres in the last year than at any time in the last 50 years, according to new figures released by Transport for London today.

The capital’s bus network is one of the largest and most comprehensive urban transport systems in the world. During the last financial year London buses carried almost 2.3 billion passengers. That was 24 million more than the previous year and more than the entire number of journeys across the UK rail network. Bus ridership has increased by 60 per cent in London since 2000 due to a sustained investment in the bus network and improvements to services.

Last year buses in the capital travelled 486 million kilometres in passenger service, which was 2.6 million kilometres more than the previous year. Every weekday in London 7,500 buses carry more than 6 million passengers on 700 different routes across the Capital.

[Note to London Transport – we use miles not kilometres in the United Kingdom – Ed]

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More information on cooling TfL tube and train carriages, buses and stations.

Work continues to keep passengers cool this summer and beyond, [I have tried to remove as much “puff” as possible! Ed]

  • First air conditioned Tube trains now running in central London
  • London Overground served by full fleet of air conditioned trains
  • Work to double ventilation fans on the Victoria line nears completion
  • Work underway looking at future of Tube trains

With warm summer weather now hitting the capital and millions of Tube passengers experiencing hot journeys on the Underground, Transport for London (TfL) has set out the work it continues to carry out to try and cool the Tube network.

On the sub surface lines the roll out of new air-conditioned S stock Tube trains continues and this summer Metropolitan line passengers are able to use them on routes into central London for the first time. By 2016 forty per cent of the Tube network will use the new air conditioned trains as, once roll out is complete on the Metropolitan line, they will be introduced on the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines from 2012 and the District line from 2013.

However the challenge of cooling the deep level Tube lines is one that TfL continues to work on. The Tube is the oldest metro system in the world and its basic tunnel infrastructure has changed little since it was constructed over 145 years ago. On the deep-level lines, which are unique to London, the heat generated by trains has been passing into the tunnels and the clay surrounding them for many years, meaning the tunnels retain heat. They were also built with only enough room for trains and with very little space for air-conditioning on the trains, inside or outside.

TfL’s acquisition of Tube Lines has created the opportunity for a joint approach to upgrades of the Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines including a common design for trains. London Underground, working with the train industry, is looking to develop a train that would be lighter and more energy-efficient, which would mean the possibility of it being able to carry air conditioning equipment.  Using regenerative braking, which returns power back to the rails, could in turn power the air conditioning while not adding to the heat that would be generated powering it. The current plan is that a prototype will be delivered to London Underground by 2015.  

Work to double the capacity of the fans at all the main ventilations shafts serving the Victoria line is also due to be completed later this year. A total of nine fans have already been completed and the work on the final four is currently underway. Later this week the entire Victoria line train fleet will have been replaced and this will enable LU to operate the environmentally friendly regenerative braking system, which returns power to the rails while the train is braking. That will reduce the amount of heat that is generated and should therefore reduce the temperature in the tunnel.

Coupled with the new trains ventilation system, which will circulate cool air from ground level in the tunnel and distribute it into the carriage at head height, this will mean more comfortable journeys for customers during the hot summer months.

Peter Hendy, London’s Transport Commissioner, said: “With the hot weather we’ve seen this week we know that it can get uncomfortable on the network, and I want to reassure our passengers that we are working hard to overcome the unique and considerable engineering challenge of cooling the Tube. We’ve made progress – air-conditioned Tube trains are now operating in central London, the entire London Overground network is served by a fleet of 57 air conditioned trains. Air cooling systems are now fitted on all new double deck buses joining the fleet and additional opening windows have also now been fitted on all double deck buses.

“Last summer saw the introduction of the first ever air-conditioned Tube train on the Metropolitan line and they are now running in central London in summer for the first time. By 2016, 191 air conditioned trains will be operating on the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines.  On the Victoria line, significant work has been done to improve ventilation and make journeys for customers more comfortable. Customers should notice a significant difference when we’re able to use the regenerative braking feature on the new trains which we’ll be able to do once the old trains have been taken out of service.”

Cooling the other deeper lines of the Tube remains a considerable challenge. The deep level tube lines are unique to London’s Tube network it is not replicated on any other metro system in the world, where the tunnels only enough room for trains. This means that on the deep-level Tubes there is very little space for air-conditioning on the trains, inside or outside. But  TfL is looking to the future and what that holds for the next generation of Tube trains, with the aim of making them lighter, so that that they generate less heat and to create space so that a cooling solution could possibly be implemented.

On buses, all new double deck buses are now fitted with air cooling systems and all double deck buses in the Capital’s fleet have been fitted with extra opening windows. Since 2007, TfL has required all new double deck buses to be fitted with air cooling systems, and there are now 4,654 double deck buses with air cooling or forced air ventilation systems, an increase of 33 percent on last year.  TfL has also been working with the bus operators and joint funding a scheme to retrofit automatic heating systems on 1,361 of the older double deck buses in the fleet to ensure heating is not left on during the hot summer period. Of the 8,500 buses in the fleet 6,747 have white roof panels which help to reflect the heat. New buses must have insulated roof and side panels which reflect heat along with tinted side glass.

As with the last four years, Industrial sized blue fans are also being deployed to help cool around 30 stations across the Tube network and TfL will be providing hot weather advice to passengers. Posters and announcements at stations will provide tips to passengers on how to try and stay cool.

Here are a few tips for keeping comfortable in hot weather:

–       Carry water with you;
–       Don’t board a train or bus if you feel unwell;
–       If you feel unwell please get off at the next stop and seek help from our staff  and;
–       Avoid pulling the passenger alarm between stations, as help can be more easily obtained with the train in platform.

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Two month ongoing rail strike now off. Transport for London statement following Arwyn Thomas tribunal decision

In response to the Employment Tribunal in respect of Arwyn Thomas, the Tube driver dismissed for unacceptable behaviour towards his colleagues, Transport for London has today offered to reinstate him with significant conditions attached.

The Tribunal found that London Underground (LU) were entitled to discipline Mr. Thomas because of his actions, that he was not dismissed for his union activities – contrary to the claims of the RMT leadership – and that he was 50 per cent blameworthy for his dismissal.

However, the Tribunal also found that the sanction of dismissal was too severe. Mr. Thomas has therefore been offered re-employment, but with a number of conditions that recognise the seriousness of his offence, including:

Mr. Thomas will not return to his previous work location, and will be re-employed in a non-operational role, which does not involve customer facing duties. 

The RMT leadership agree to end all industrial action in relation to this current dispute.

The RMT leadership agree that any future individual cases will follow the normal processes for resolving individual disputes, all of which will be exhausted up to ACAS level in advance of any ballot for industrial action being called.

Any future case will be formally referred to the General Secretary of the RMT and the MD of LU for ultimate review before any such ballot.

Mike Brown, London Underground’s Managing Director, said: “Arwyn Thomas’ employment tribunal found that, contrary to the claims of the RMT leadership, he was dismissed because of his abusive behaviour and not because of his union activities. The settlement that we have reached ensures that Mr Thomas’ re-instatement is on a basis that recognises the seriousness of his offensive behaviour. It also allows us to move forward towards a more constructive relationship with the RMT, whereby Londoners should not be threatened with strike action relating to such individual tribunal cases in the future.”  

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Transport for London response to the Employment Tribunal decision in respect of Arwyn Thomas

Technically, this should be in the Arrow as it concerns our use of the Northern Line. Although, of course, the trains will probably be running throughout the strikes. Puff removes and some of the bold text is our doing.

 

Transport for London (TfL) today responded to the findings of the Employment Tribunal in respect of Arwyn Thomas, the Tube driver who was dismissed for unacceptable behaviour towards his colleagues.

The Tribunal found that LU were entitled to discipline Mr. Thomas because of his actions, and also that:

  • ·         Arwyn Thomas was not dismissed for his union activities, contrary to the claims of the RMT leadership
  • ·         Mr. Thomas’ claims were not supported that he had become a “thorn in the side” of his employers
  • ·         The explanation given by Mr. Thomas for what was seen on CCTV was not credible
  • ·         Mr.Thomas was 50 per cent blameworthy for his dismissal
  • ·         The hearing will continue to discuss dates for a remedies hearing.

Despite this, the tribunal found that – although LU were right to discipline Mr.Thomas – other options than dismissal should have been explored, thus he was unfairly dismissed. Given these findings, and the fact that the tribunal has not recommended that Mr.Thomas be re-instated, Transport for London will now be considering the findings in detail.

In the meantime, it is urging the RMT leadership to acknowledge that Mr. Thomas was not subject to action due to his union activity, which was the whole basis of their call for strike action. TfL is therefore calling on the RMT leadership to suspend their threatened strike action to allow the employment tribunal process to consider the potential remedies.

Mike Brown, London Underground’s Managing Director, said: “The employment tribunal has today ruled that Mr Thomas should have been disciplined for his actions and that his dismissal was in no way due to his activities as a union member. This is entirely contrary to the claims made by the RMT leadership in order to justify their strike action. The tribunal has also found that he was 50 per cent blameworthy for his dismissal, and it has not called for his re-employment.

“However, we recognise that despite these factors, the tribunal has found that the sanction used in Mr Thomas’ case was too high. We will therefore now be considering the findings in detail. We would urge the RMT leadership to acknowledge that their claims of union victimisation were false and to suspend their threatened strike action.”

The RMT leadership is currently threatening a series of strikes, aimed at disrupting services throughout next week. If the strikes go ahead TfL will operate as many services as possible, and passengers are advised to check before they travel by visiting www.tfl.gov.uk

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Good news, TfL staff have received 10,000 NVQs to date…

…although by the way they treat us, we’d be excused if we found this a little difficult to be believed. Puff, of course removed.

Transport for London’s training tops 10,000

On National Vocational Qualification Day (VQ Day), Transport for London (TfL) has announced that over 10,000 NVQs have now been awarded to staff throughout the organisation, improving skills and boosting morale.

NVQs build on the already substantial training TfL staff receive allowing them to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to improve in their role and achieve a recognised qualification.

Since 2001, NVQs have been awarded to a wide range of employees at London Underground including station staff, train drivers, signallers and the engineering workforce.  Following the launch of TfL’s Skills and Employment Strategy in December 2008 the opportunity to complete an NVQ expanded further to cover other roles across TfL including administration, customer service and management employees, and are also now being offered as part of adult apprentice programmes.

Staff can gain NVQs in Rail Operations, Rail Engineering, Customer Services, Administration and Management, and programmes last between one to two years. The courses are integrated as much as possible with the staff member’s day job to avoid unnecessary repetition and also capture real evidence of performance.

Iain Smith, Head of Skills, Transport for London, said: “This is such a significant milestone for us to reach, 10,000 NVQs awarded in ten years. These values ensure staff can contribute towards the running of a safe, efficient and customer focussed transport service.”

Last month Boris Johnson announced that 2000 job opportunities had been created in the GLA group in the past two years.

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Golders Green Bus Station re-opens ahead of time

The Golders Green Bus Station re-opened to passengers at the weekend (18 June), three weeks ahead of schedule, following essential resurfacing work.

The bus station, which is used by 2.5 million passengers a year, was closed while the work was carried out.  It was scheduled to take up to eight weeks but has been completed early and bus passengers are once again able to use the bus station.

Chris Kershaw, TfL Head of Infrastructure, said: “This is a very busy station with thousands of passengers passing through it each day so we are pleased to be able to return services to normal quicker than expected.”

The resurfacing work involved replacing the block paving on the road with tarmac.  Passengers were required to alight a stop early because of the works.

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