Thursday, 2 April 2009

Come on TfL, you know you want to talk to us...

Is this discreet little building on Finchley Road the answer?

For months, indeed years now, a group of local users of the North London Line (Overground) have been trying to get a Users Group together.

We've made the offer to TfL, to Silverlink historically, now to LOROL and a range of associated officers.

The response is a warm enthusiasm and then silence. Put simply there is no sustained commitment or support for such a venture from those who appears to be responsible for the line.

The result is a culture that is distant and hand-to-mouth. The whole operation works on a 'surprises only' basis.

For example, we have the signs being re-done at all the stations without a conversation on improvements, the benches at Kensal Rise being moved, the clock at West Hampstead being moved, a bike rack at Hampstead Heath in the daftest of locations, a coffee bar in Hampstead Heath, a cash point at Brondesbury - all unannounced and all could have been done better.

None of these need be problematic but the fact is all of them could have been done better, smarter, cheaper, to greater effect, if there had been the most cursory conversation with users.

So the challenges to Tfl, LOROL and the asociated arms of transport agencies are very simple:
  1. Decide if you really (really) want a Users Group and if you don't then be honest and say so.
  2. Provide a written commitment to working with that Users Group on a no-surprises principle (ie. we won't arrive at the station one morning to find closures, changes and additions that have not ben consulted on or notified in advance).
  3. Make a geneuine effort to be far more joined up - it's no longer credible to be consulting on access arrangements for Brondesbury, at the same time as making the installation of a ash point, at the same time as consulting on Phase Three - all of which should be joined up.
  4. Provide an up-to-date real contact sheet for the stations from Hampstead Heath to Kensal Rise and the associated staff responsibilities in order to remove the excuse culture of 'sorry not my department/scheme/section'.
  5. Include the British Transport Police and the local residents and amenity groups and stop playing one off against the other but committing to public meetings and regular information briefings (that can also be issued at stations).

So there it is a pretty simple five point challenge to TfL, LOROL and the associated agencies. I won't hold my breath... (but hope to be proved wrong)...

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

You need to address these remarks to Howard Smith, C.O.O. of London Rail for TfL. As it is just possible he doesn't read this blog, why not find out his email and send him a link?

cedric said...

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Anonymous said...

Surely you don't need approval from TfL/LOROL/whoever to set up the user group. I don't think the Gospel Oak-Barking user group (www.barking-gospeloak.org.uk) was set up under the approval of any operator.

Perhaps you should speak to them to benefit from their experience.

Ed Fordham said...

It's not about approval it's just some sense that they are interested, that they'll reply, that we won;t be chasing our tail in frustration...

Anonymous said...

But Ed, you said yourself that it's warmly welcomed by TfL/LOROL/whoever. Perhaps they're waiting for YOU to start such a group ?

Ed Fordham said...

Hmmm it's tempting to publish the months and months of correspondence with the varied wings of the tranpsort agencies and the range of personnel who change and leave and the lack of consistency is scary...

Or the lack of knowledge between the agencies as to what is happening in the relevant stations even more scary...

Ed F

Anonymous said...

Look, Ed, your site is big on 'Make It Happen', so why don't YOU actually DO something to 'make it happen' & start a user group ?

And if you DO have 'months of correspondence' then why don't you publish it & let us all be the judge of who-said-what rather than just preciously hinting at it ?

C'mon Ed, words are cheap if you REALLY want my vote (and the other 473 to win) then you have to persuade us with something more than just rhetoric.

Ed Fordham said...

Ok anonymous i'll give a precise and small case study of the farce when i have a chance but why don;t you drop the anonymous status?