A Transport for London meeting this week looking at the latest with Elizabeth line services has various interesting titbits on the service.
As expected, the busiest days are mid-week though Monday isn’t too far off: “Passenger demand is highest on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays (560,000 to 614,000 passengers) with the quietest working day being a Monday (500,000 passengers).”
Weekend demand is also featured in the report: “Sunday demand has grown rapidly and has reached 280,000 passengers per day. Saturday demand at 470,000 passengers per day, is only six per cent lower than the quietest working day of Monday.”
Across London these are the busiest times and locations:
The report also states that a greater percentage of journeys are in the peak compared to the tube: “An average of 56 per cent of passenger journeys on Elizabeth line occur during weekday peak travel times (07:00 to 10:00 and 16:00 to 19:00).
“This is higher when compared to London Underground (around 50 per cent)”.
During its first year full year of operation, the Elizabeth line carried 150.7 million passenger journeys. This was slightly below pre-pandemic estimates but above those made just before it opened in 2021.
Tallying with my own experience, TfL state “Abbey Wood services depart with all seats taken and passengers from Woolwich and Custom House stand”.
Despite the advent of the Elizabeth line, the DLR has seen passenger numbers hold up well.
Along the Woolwich Arsenal branch this may be expected to continue. In Woolwich itself many approved major housing developments are located closer to the DLR station such as the leisure centre redevelopment with almost 500 homes, Brookhill estate rebuild, new blocks around Tesco and also the Island site.
It sometimes makes sense to use the DLR rather than walk another few minutes north then descend to the Elizabeth line. DLR frequencies are already every five minutes heading to Canning Town which compares favourably with up to eight minute gaps in the new line. If heading to a location serviced by the DLR such as Stratford or the City why not use it. Times are comparable.
The DLR will also become more appealing when new trains appear from 2024, bringing USB sockets and air conditioning.
The DLR is now nearing 90 per cent of 2019 usage levels.
As for where passengers are coming from, a report before the Elizabeth Line Committee highlights that:
- Thirty five per cent of Elizabeth line demand came from the previously existing TfL Rail service (Shenfield to Liverpool Street and Paddington to Heathrow/Reading)
- Nineteen per cent of Elizabeth line demand has transferred from London Underground. This is concentrated in particular locations; demand on the Central line at Ealing Broadway has reduced by around 40 per cent, and on the Bakerloo line demand between Paddington and Oxford Circus has reduced by five per cent. Overall, the biggest transfers are from the Central line (37 per cent of the Underground abstraction), Jubilee line (24 per cent), and Piccadilly line (18 per cent)
- Four per cent of Elizabeth line demand has come from the DLR, partly masked by demand growth from its own timetable enhancements;
- Thirteen per cent of Elizabeth line demand transferred from National Rail services, mainly South Eastern and Great Western; and
- The remaining 30 per cent of Elizabeth line demand is ‘new’.
Journey that are “new” are based on areas where ridership has been high on the Elizabeth line while nearby stations in the same town have not seen much reduction, with Woolwich given as an example alongside Canary Wharf.
The number of new homes is vast and that perhaps isn’t a great surprise. Southeastern could also be tapping into that growth along Metro routes but instead under DfT control have opted for service cuts and a severe lack of staffing on the network.
Delays have increased through-running commenced last year, and software issues have continued to occur. The report states that the reliability of class 345 trains is an issue: “Software upgrades have been rolled out and loaded onto the fleet which has improved reliability with further upgrades planned in July and August”.
“A previous major software upgrade contained “performance affecting regressions (‘bugs’) following the ELR400 signalling update. A programme of patch releases were delivered between May and early July to improve reliability.”
In addition, since through-running begun there have been issues with Network Rail infrastructure and failures in both the East and West have disrupted services.
The line has also seen a jump in bus use around many stations, with Abbey Wood passenger numbers more than doubling as covered last week.
Since then, TfL have announced a Superloop express bus service to Abbey Wood station offering faster links from Thamesmead, Bexleyheath and Bromley.