Greg Hands MP visited the Earl’s Court District & Piccadilly Lines Control Room on Friday (11th May) to learn at first-hand about the huge increase in District Line capacity coming to the Wimbledon District Line from 2019.
With funding provided to Transport for London’s (TfL) capital grant by the Government’s 2015 Spending Review, led by Greg as the then Chief Secretary to the Treasury, TfL is spending £5.6 billion on the 4LM programme – the Four Lines Modernisation. The programme sees the updating of the District, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan and Circle Lines.
In 13 years as a Member of Parliament, the biggest local issue for Greg has been capacity on the Wimbledon branch of the District Line. Greg has worked with successive Mayors of London – most particularly Boris Johnson – to increase capacity on the Line since 2005. These improvements have included moving capacity from the Olympia branch; the creation of the new ‘lasso’ version of the Circle Line; and the introduction of the (walk through) “S” Class Tube trains from 2012.
The potential for further improvements has always rested on improving the signalling through Earl’s Court station. The existing signalling dates mainly from the 1950s and 1960s, and even has parts from as long ago as 1924.
Greg learned at Earls’ Court of the effects of the 4LM programme, which would provide new signalling at Earls Court and Automatic Train Operation from 2019. The effect of this will be a one-third increase of trains on the Wimbledon Branch, from around 24 an hour to up to 32 an hour – or one train approximately every 2 minutes! At which point, service will be almost as frequent as the Victoria Line, which has a train every 100 seconds at peak times.
Commenting on his visit, local Member of Parliament for Chelsea and Fulham, Greg Hands, said: “I have campaigned successfully over the years for extra capacity on tube services for my constituents, such as a change in the Circle Line in 2011 and the new S-Class train carriages.
“While there’s already been a big increase in capacity on the Wimbledon branch, it’s great news to hear of the improvements that the £5.4billion from the Conservative Government’s Capital Grant in the 2015 Spending Review will bring to my constituents as part of the 4LM programme.
“I look forward to the improved service next year, as I join my constituents on our daily commute on the Wimbledon branch of the District Line!”