Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 440 - 459)




  440. Can that be achieved on the Central Line? My impression is that on occasions the train now stays too long in the station because of the sheer problem of getting people on and off the trains because of the level of overcrowding?
  (Mr Goulcher) Yes, that is one of the major factors that limits capacity. What we have to try and do is to consider whether it is right to try and increase the capacity, increase the number of trains we attempt to run given constraints like that, which actually means that in practice you may not be able to move them through as quickly as you need to and that leads to the bunching of trains. The trains in front, if you like, fill up and wait even longer at platforms and the trains behind are empty, and so forth. What we try and do is have a realistic timetable in place.

  441. I understand that. If you are then saying that is the problem now and you want to squeeze another 25 per cent of passengers through in the rush hour how do you do that? You cannot have people hanging out of the windows, can you, of tubes?
  (Mr Goulcher) We would not want that. There are a number of things we are doing. We had a timetable change last month which was designed to take advantage of the automatic train operation that the Central Line project delivered. What that helps to do is regulate the trains and make the intervals more even. The more even the intervals the less the crowding.

  442. You are talking about improving the trains. I am interested in the flow of the passengers.
  (Mr Goulcher) There is very little we can do about that. There are two things we do, one is that we have implemented what we are calling station assistants for train services, they are dedicated staff whose job it is to manage the platform.

  443. To push people in or to pull them out?
  (Mr Goulcher) Not like in Tokyo! They have a roving public address facility and they are trained specifically to use that to encourage people to move down within the trains to reduce dwell times and to help the train operator to know when it is safe to move on, and so forth. The other way of controlling volumes is obviously through limiting the numbers entering stations. You will probably be familiar with the regular occurrence at Victoria, where we have to restrict entry because the volumes are too great and it is not safe, so it disrupts the train service.

Ms King

  444. Bearing in mind what you said about getting people on and off trains what would the impact on the capacity of the Central Line be of the construction of a new tube station in between Liverpool Street and Bank?
  (Mr McKenna) A new tube station between Liverpool and Bank?

  445. Yes.
  (Mr McKenna) That would be technically impossible to do.

  446. I was under the impression that a new underground station had been mooted.
  (Mr McKenna) Is it Bishopsgate, which is the other side of Liverpool Street?

  447. Okay. I am receiving a lot of correspondence on Bishopsgate. If there is not a Central Line station built at Bishopsgate and given that—although, I am not going do go down the route of the East London line extension—it has not yet been approved, do you think it is sensible to plan for 10 million square feet of office space in East London?
  (Mr McKenna) You have to think about it in terms of train service handling capacity and station service handling capacity. An extra station at Bishopsgate would not effect the train service handling capacity, we can get some more out of the existing system. In terms of the station service handling capacity we have expanded Liverpool Street quite a lot in the last 10 years, so that is less of a worry, it is more the train service handling capacity on the Central Line that is key.
  (Mr Goulcher) It is very dependent on what the development is there to do and what the mix of the use of the space is. In principle, especially with the East London line extension, travelling through there will be enhanced infrastructure.

  448. To look at it other way round, given the transport capacity we have at the moment where would any of you say would be the best place to locate a new, high density tall building?
  (Mr McKenna) In broad terms you would want areas that have a reasonable number of different lines of London Underground and National Railway nearby.


  449. Over the stations?
  (Mr McKenna) Near to the stations.

Christine Russell

  450. Can I ask you Mr Palmer, from a transport perspective can we accommodate tall buildings anywhere in London? If we can, where should we put them and should we pepper pot them or should we put them in clusters?
  (Mr Palmer) The difficulty we have, and we have heard about the London Underground system, is that so much of the transport system in London is near to overcrowding at long periods of time. On the National Rail Network although there is spare capacity at off-peak periods that is increasingly getting less the case. We have overcrowding on several lines but not on every line, despite what many people would say. If we are going to locate taller buildings the two things we need to look at is, first of all, for each one we need to take a full analysis of the transport assessment that is likely to arise, because different types of buildings having different impacts, for example an international bank might generate a lot of traffic from various places, where as if it was a call centre of the same size it would have a different sort of transport impact. We need to understand those impacts before we proceed with the planning and the development. Where we do have capacities by and large round or near the major rail termini that, I suppose, suggests pepper potting round the transport termini that we already have. The other problem we have is that in terms of developing new transport infrastructure we are getting to the case where, certainly in London, it is very expensive indeed, to add on extra new stations, lines or whatever.

  451. Do you think there is a complete lack of integration in London between transport policies and land use policies?
  (Mr Palmer) Although transport is a material consideration in development considerations it is very rarely the issue that actually determines whether a development proceeds. It is very often something else that will determine it. I think that may be one of the changes that we will expect to see in the future, that transport should be seen as a more important aspect.

Mr Grayling

  452. I want to talk to you about capacity in other forms of transportation. You pointed about termini, if you build a huge tower block over the top of Waterloo Station the capacity does not exist on the lines in on out of Waterloo to cope with that.
  (Mr Palmer) It probably does not. Marylebone might be an instance and there is space, I think, round King's Cross, I do not think it is full to capacity. It depends on how the development is used at the end of the day.

  453. Given the fact that we do seem to be likely to get development of substantial new buildings in central London over the next few years where do you think we can generate capacity, more broadly than simply the Underground? How can we create greater transport capacity within central London to deal with those developments?
  (Mr Palmer) The two biggest changes would be the Thameslink 2000 and the East West Cross Rail, they would be the biggest step changes in capacity we could provide, but they are probably the most expensive changes as well.

  454. Do we have any similar problems elsewhere in the United Kingdom with city centre congestion that is like to cause a problem if we see development of buildings.
  (Mr Palmer) They are slightly different. In other areas you tend to get more dependency on buses as public transport access. The principles are the same, where you do not have the service level provided or you cannot provide the service level, where you cannot provide the on-street facilities to ensure that buses have good access to these places then you will have exactly the same problems we have in London.

  455. Which particular place would you highlight?
  (Mr Palmer) Manchester would be one and Birmingham another.

Mrs Ellman

  456. How many United Kingdom city's could you name that you say have sufficiently good pubic transport systems to support tall buildings?
  (Mr Palmer) Oh dear! Most of the major cities do have good public transport systems but we do tend to bemoan in London, by and large, although it is very overcrowded. In Manchester with the development of the Manchester Metro, in Liverpool we have seen good developments over the last five years, or so, and in Sheffield we have seen the development of the Super Tram which is, as far as I am aware, currently under used at the moment, partly because of land use developments not having taken place.

  457. In all of those places you think tall buildings could be built?
  (Mr Palmer) It depends on the intensity of the use and the nature of the use. The principle that we are trying to encourage is more intensive use or more intensive building within town and city centres in order that more and more people have the option to access them by non-car modes of transport, including walking and cycling. We do need to do an individual analysis of each proposal before it proceeds.


  458. Would mixed development help, do you think, if people want to live where they work?
  (Mr Palmer) It may help. It may reduce the transport impact of some developments. The question is whether the developer themselves are terribly keen on those sort of developments, and that is raising other issues. Whether or not people are prepared to live that close to where they work I do not know. We have seen a shift where we do have people living in town centres and very often you find them travelling to the next town along because they want that break between work and home life, as it were.

  459. You think a journey to work is worthwhile?
  (Mr Palmer) I can remember there was some research done 10 years, or more, ago which asked the question "Why do men in particular like to drive to work?" They felt it was the only peaceful time they had between the chaos at home and the chaos at the office.

  Mrs Dunwoody: And they like toys!

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