No more delays: Fix the London Underground
The London Underground, the quickest method of transport across the capital (on the rare occasion when it is actually running smoothly) dates back to 1863. With an estimated 5 million passengers using the service daily, it is undoubtedly a privilege that many of us commuters, including myself, have benefited from for years and still do to this day. However, the trains are all too often either delayed, suspended or cancelled and it is now that TFL need to re-evaluate the service.
I’m sure most, if not all of us have experienced that well-known voice echoing across the platform as we wait in anticipation at 7.30am on a Monday morning for our journey to work or university with a caffeinated beverage, either refreshed or tired from the weekend yet feeling somewhat prosperous for the week ahead: ‘This is a customer announcement, there are severe delays on the Victoria line, District and Circle lines and minor delays on the Jubilee line. Tickets will be accepted on local buses.’ It is then that all hope of a productive, successful week slowly fades as anger and annoyance brew inside the raged commuters that stand along the platform.
And of course, when the train finally arrives, the delay has caused that much of a backlog that every carriage is full from those waiting at previous platforms before ours, causing even further delays to the commute. But if you’re one of the lucky ones that does manage to squeeze yourself in the spaces between people, you are greeted with either a sighing, tutting passenger or a passenger’s limb that blocks all sight of anything in front of you. Ultimately, it often ends in ordering an uber or black cab ride to get from A to B and yet another late arrival to work that now needs no explanation anymore. Unfortunately, all TFL has to offer us is that ‘tickets will be accepted on local bus services’ (which are usually also jam-packed as a result) or a refund on our ticket (which is more hassle that it’s often worth!).
So what is it that causes London Underground to be delayed so often? Well, what we’re usually told is that it’s a signal failure or a broken-down train, but the impact on commuting is substantial. An article by CITY A.M. in January 2018 stated that the District Line is the worst performing line for delays, with an estimated 244 days per year, followed closely behind by the Piccadilly Line with 202. Furthermore, figures in 2017 showed that almost 400,000 hours of passenger time were wasted as a result of delays.
What can TFL do to fix this or at least lessen the burden and significance of delay? Well there are numerous options. Firstly, they could attempt to reduce the number of passengers using the service at the one time (rush hour) by possibly introducing a highly reduced rate for those willing to travel outside of the rush hour time-period. The problem with this however is that with less money then being pumped into the service, we can’t expect significant improvements to lines and the trains themselves. Another possible option would be to increase the fare price by a very small amount such as 5 or 10p, and with the vast amount of service-users each day, it would amount to a relatively hefty sum that could be invested in modernising the service and making it more efficient. However, the fares have been gradually increasing already over the months and years and we still have the delay problem. From a customer satisfaction point of view, the refunds process for delayed trains and claiming money back from tickets could also be more efficient.
Let’s not end everything on a bad note. I am a regular user of the underground and believe it benefits the city massively, in terms of ease of transport and for tourists to enjoy every aspect of London. Furthermore, it has made my improvements and additions to service over the years, such as the introduction of the Night Tube and WiFi access at stations. However, the vast number of days that trains are delayed and the sheer amount of potential working hours lost is becoming a major problem, and now is the time to re-evaluate the service as a whole and lessen the extent of the issue.