Transport for London and City Hall have dismissed suggestions that delays on the TfL Rail service put in question the success of Crossrail.
Running between Liverpool Street and Shenfield, TfL Rail was created in 2015 with the devolution of some West Anglia routes and will be folded into Crossrail, also known as the Elizabeth Line, when passenger services begin in 2018.
Conservatives on the London Assembly claim passengers using the current service have experienced “five and a half years of delays in a 6 month period” and say this raises questions about TfL’s ability to ensure Crossrail improves journey times and delivers the promised increased in passager capacity.
According to the party, passengers incurred over 50,000 hours of delays between May and November 2016, including 124,020 minutes of delays due to hot rails, 50,244 minutes due to software problems and 44,202 minutes due to leaves on the line.
The figures are based on delays to scheduled services which were then multiplied by the maximum number of seated passengers each train is able to carry.
Keith Prince, the Conservative transport spokesman, claimed the figures “paint a worrying picture for the launch of Crossrail on this line later this year.”
He added: “They may seem like minutes to TfL officials, but to the hundreds of people being delayed on each train they add up. A decade of passenger time could be wasted every year completely unnecessarily.
“What is most concerning is this exact set of track is to become a large part of Crossrail.
“The Mayor needs to push TfL to resolve these issues and ensure the Crossrail fulfils its potential to reduce congestion in London.”
In response to Mr Prince’s comments, TfL says that under the industry’s public performance measure, the percentage of trains which arrive at their terminating station on time has increased from 91.4% to 94.5% since it took over the Shenfield line services.
The agency also points out that TfL Rail is “consistently” among the top 3 most reliable train operators in the country, with a reliability score of 81.7%, “significantly higher” than the national average of 62.8%.
Howard Smith, Operations Director of TfL Rail, said: “Since we took over services between Liverpool Street and Shenfield in May 2015, performance on this route has improved significantly.
“Delays have been cut by a third and TfL Rail is now one of the country’s top-rated rail operators.
“Building on this success, there will be brand new trains introduced, alongside improvements to infrastructure ahead of Elizabeth line services beginning from December next year.
“Network Rail is currently undertaking an extensive programme of railway upgrades including renewing ageing track and overhead wiring.
“The first of the new, higher capacity, walk-through trains with air-conditioning and improved customer information is currently undergoing testing on the TfL Rail route, and will enter service from May this year.”
A spokesperson for Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “It beggars belief that some Assembly Members are prepared to scaremonger about the future of Crossrail – a world- class project that is being delivered on budget and on time, and will provide enormous benefits to passengers in the south-east, while unlocking thousands of new homes.
“Since TfL took control of the Liverpool Street to Shenfield line in 2015, the service has improved dramatically, with delays cut by a third.
“The line has gone from being one of the worst routes in the country, to being one of the very best.
“The reliability of TfL Rail is in marked contrast to the shambolic performance of providers like Southern Rail, where the Government continue to refuse to take any action to improve the woeful service for passengers.
“Keith Prince should stop peddling desperate nonsense, and get behind Crossrail – a project that will be central to delivering a modern and genuinely world-class transport network in London over the coming decades.’