New trains, but getting off could be a struggle
Travellers face having to move carriage when exiting as modern carriages replace 40-year-old trains on the Moorgate line
07 December, 2018 — By Samantha Booth
Existing 40-year-old trains on the Moorgate line are to be replaced
SOME commuters leaving new Great Northern trains next year will have to move to the next carriage, in plans criticised as “unacceptable” by transport campaigners.
Modern carriages will be replacing 40-year-old trains on the Moorgate line. But in-cab signalling to improve reliability on the line, due to be installed by this month, will not now be operating until December 2021.
While the old signalling system is still in place, rail company Great Northern has decided that drivers must stop the new trains further down the platform at four stations in Islington so they can see signals properly.
This means that from next year, all doors in the rear carriage will stay closed at southbound platforms at Highbury and Islington, Essex Road and Old Street stations as well as Essex Road and Drayton Park northbound.
Philip Ridley, from Enfield Transport Users’ Group, said that, with the route already congested, it was unacceptable to wait until 2022, when he expects new system to be operating.
“It’s already shoulder to shoulder on the trains,” he said. “It’s very difficult to get out.”
Great Northern rejected a proposal to put a second driver in the cab to view signals, saying services would have to be cancelled as there are not enough drivers to have two in each train.
Mr Ridley suggested: “If additional drivers are not available, on-board supervisors or guards should be considered between Moorgate and Finsbury Park as a temporary solution to avoid selective door opening.
“This is an example of why we need a London-wide single strategy for transport.”
A Great Northern spokesman said it was replacing 40-year-old trains on the route to Moorgate with “brand new, spacious, air conditioned rolling stock that will boost capacity on board by 27 per cent to help address a near-doubling of passengers on Great Northern in 14 years”.
“Until a new signalling system is installed, along with other enhancements along the route that will allow us to run more trains closer together, passengers will be asked to use the wide aisles and walk-through interconnected carriages to move forward a coach at four stations on the Northern City Line to and from London Moorgate,” the spokesman added.
“Selective door opening is nothing new and is used widely across London Underground and Britain’s rail network.”
A Network Rail spokeswoman said the signalling project was originally due to be finished this month.
“Unfortunately, due to funding restrictions, the project was terminated,” the spokeswoman added.
“Network Rail is committed to this project and applied for additional funding, which enabled us to restart the project in April.
“This is an exciting project and Network Rail and Great Northern are working extremely closely to introduce the European Train Control System (ETCS) on the Northern City Line by December 2021.”