New data out today has shown the Elizabeth line set another new record for passenger journeys with 17.8 million made between 15th October and 11th November.
That trumps the previous month – itself a record – which stood at 17.3 million.
And yet this hasn’t seen the expected hit on the London Overground and Docklands Light Railway some – including Transport for London – expected.
In a recent report TfL stated the DLR was running above budgeted expectations and last month it saw 7.8 million journeys. It’s fluctuated between 80-90 per cent of pre-pandemic and pre-Elizabeth line numbers this financial year.
Though a journey along any of its branches shows why. Each is seeing substantial development along the route.
The London Overground also continues to see strong numbers with 15 million journeys. That’s slightly down on pre-pandemic totals but over this financial year has on occasion beaten figures before 2020.
National Rail companies don’t release monthly figures of usage like TfL so finding information is trickier – and often with lag. From what we have seen however in reports, transport meetings and station usage Metro routes in London south of the Thames at Southeastern, Southern and South Western Railway are all lagging someway behind.
While Southeastern have blamed the Elizabeth line, as we’ve see this isn’t having as big an impact on the DLR and LO.
It’s more likely that on Metro routes cuts to services eliminating a turn-up-and-go service is driving people away.
In turn that is then used by the Department for Transport as a reason not to invest in improving services anywhere near quickly enough. We know the Greenwich line where some stations now see gaps of 27 minutes between services will see improvements in June 2024 – but that has taken 19 months.
On Southern cuts have seen services fall to just two an hour on some routes including through Forest Hill and Brockley towards London Bridge which has in turn benefitted London Overground and may explain such strong numbers there.
However overcrowding is now an issue and TfL have mooted the prospect of running some services into London Bridge themselves.
At Southern and SWR we’ve also seen substantial amounts of stock sent for scrap with no replacements yet in service. SWR do have the seemingly forever delayed Class 701 trains due to arrive – but Southern have none planned.
The old adage applies: build it and they will come. Invest and maintain service levels and growth bounces back.
Cut frequencies and scrap trains as seen on National Rail in London and people turn away. It may seem obvious but central government – who are behind these decisions – fail to grasp it.