The mayors and MPs for Hackney and Tower Hamlets have written to Transport for London Commissioner Mike Brown to demand that Overground services at Hackney stations improve, after increasing reports from local people of delays and cancellations that make it harder for them to get around.
Trains are also reported to be missing Hackney stations during peak times, as part of a new Overground practice that effectively creates a ‘fast train’ to Stratford but leaves people in Hackney waiting on platforms.
Many Hackney and Tower Hamlets residents have said that, after missing stations in the borough, trains often wait outside Stratford, negating any time saved.
The recent delays are making overcrowding worse at Hackney Central too, an issue that Mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville, has previously raised with TfL.
So far, TfL and Arriva have not made recent service statistics public, despite calls from Meg Hillier, MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch.
Local mayors and MPs are now renewing this demand and asking for reassurances that TfL is working to end the disruption.
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “Many residents in Tower Hamlets rely on the Overground to get around and we need to ensure that this vital connection through East London is delivering a functioning service for people who live in the work in this creative and economic hub.”
Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney, said: “With our residents having faced cuts to their vital bus services it is more important than ever that they can rely on the Overground to get around the borough, get to work, and get home safely. Instead they have experienced cancellations, delays and services skipping stations like Hackney Wick. The ongoing disruption to the Overground in our boroughs is completely unacceptable and we demand that TfL take action.”
The full text of the letter sent to Mike Brown is below:
Dear Mike Brown MVO
Highbury and Islington to Stratford Overground
We are jointly writing to you to seek assurances regarding services on the Overground line between Islington and Stratford, following disruption experienced by our residents. This builds on some individual approaches we have made in the past about these issues.
As you know, this line provides a vital link for our residents and constituents ─ it has been key to driving regeneration in our boroughs. This is particularly true in the Hackney Wick area where we successfully bid to the Greater London Authority to create a Creative Enterprise Zone. It is vital that it has the transport connections to serve this cultural and economic hub.
Unfortunately the experience from our residents is that the line has experienced ongoing delays, cancellations and the increasingly frequent practice of missing out Hackney station stops on the London Overground.
We understand that during busy periods it is Transport for London and Arriva policy for services to miss Hackney stations, including Hackney Wick, effectively creating a ‘fast train’ to Stratford. However, our residents also tell us that these services often wait outside Stratford station for some time.
At the same time, we also understand that it is policy to ‘prioritise’ the Willesden Junction to Highbury & Islington section, and that a late delivery of new trains for the Gospel Oak to Barking line trains are currently being diverted from other Overground lines.
We consider the current disruption complete unacceptable and impacting our residents ability to move around our boroughs, as well as commute to work. There is also ongoing concern about the safety of passengers using the service, and Mayor Glanville has previously raised safety concerns regarding Hackney Central station overcrowding which is linked to the service performance.
So far, TfL and Arriva have not made these policies and recent service statistics public despite calls from Meg Hillier MP. We would like the recent service statistics regarding this line, and reassurances that TfL are working to end the disruption and return to a functioning service on the Overground line.
We understand that Heidi Alexander, Deputy Mayor for Transport, is arranging a meeting with Meg Hillier MP. We would like to include both borough leaders in this meeting.
We look forward to hearing from you.
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets
Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney
Meg Hillier MP, Hackney South and Shoreditch
Diane Abbott MP, Hackney North and Stoke Newington
Jim Fitzpatrick MP, Poplar and Limehouse
Rushanara Ali MP, Bethnal Green and Bow