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Brian Paddick, Lib Dem candidate for London Mayor expresses support for the Barking - Gospel Oak Line

April 8, 2012 12:00 AM
By Barking - Gospel Oak User Group Press Release
Brian Paddick, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London gave his whole hearted support to efforts to secure much needed investment by members of the Barking - Gospel Oak Line User Group (BGOLUG) when he travelled on the line recently.

Along with Lib Dem Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, Caroline Pidgeon AM, he joined morning commuters from Barking on Friday 23rd March to see how a recently added relief train had eased the overcrowding for part of the morning rush.

At Woodgrange Park, while waiting for the relief train Brian spoke with a member of the station staff and saw that the line through the station was already electrified, BGOLUG members explaining that the line was already electrified at both ends and in the middle, at South Tottenham, but needed around £30m to "fill in the gaps" and electrify it throughout.

Freedom of Information requests and answers to questions by Caroline Pidgeon show that following a break down in negotiations with the then Secretary of State, Labour's Lord Adonis, soon after taking office, Mayor Boris Johnson has personally done nothing further to advance the case for electrification and has twice declined to travel on the line see the problems for himself.

Transport for London (TfL) have included the line's electrification with 4-coach trains in recommendations to the Government for the next 5-year rail investment period which is to be announced by Secretary of State Justine Greening in around three months time.

The new London Gateway Port at Thameshaven will soon start to come on stream and is expected to generate 30 trains a day, most of which will use the Barking - Gospel Oak Line.

On Board the 07:59 Woodgrange Park to Hampstead Heath relief train, Brian and Caroline noted how the train, running 9 minutes behind the one they had left Barking on was soon standing room only.

Richard Pout, Secretary of the User Group explained

"Because London Overground has only 8 of these 2-coach diesel units, there are no more trains available to further boost peak services. Evening peak trains are now every bit as overcrowded as in the morning."

At Blackhorse Road, BGOLUG's Assistant Secretary, Glenn Wallis explained how the busy interchange with the Underground's Victoria Line was about to get a 'make over' from TfL. However, original proposals which included new shelters had now been scaled back to consist of new seating, new signs and a repaint. The existing, open shelters will remain and bicycle ramps, paid for by Waltham Forest Council are being removed from the station footbridge.

"This is the busiest intermediate station on the line," said Glenn Wallis. "The many passengers waiting here deserve better, larger waiting shelters."

At Harringay Green Lanes Caroline Pidgeon commented, "While there have been clear improvements in the service since I last travelled the line with User Group members in 2009 further improvements are still needed. Above all we must keep up the pressure to ensure that the line is finally electrified. This would deliver better services for passengers as well as making a useful contribution to reducing air pollution."

Brian Paddick said,

"The Barking to Gospel Oak Line User Group has done a great job in campaigning for improvements in train services. This is an increasingly popular line and that must mean improvements to it have to continue."