Sadiq Khan apologises for Central line delays promising TfL is ‘getting a grip’ on motor issues

The mayor of London has blamed the issues on a lack of funding from the government and the fact the trains are 30 years old.
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Sadiq Khan has apologised to Central line customers who have experienced severe delays over recent months.

The Central line, which runs from West Ruislip to Epping, has been plagued with disruptions caused by "an abnormally high number of defective traction motors" requiring work during an overhaul of the trains on the line.

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A Freedom of Information request by LondonWorld revealed that between November 2 and January 10 the issue caused delays on 45 occasions, and the service has been disrupted on every weekday since then.

Transport for London (TfL) says an emergency Central line timetable is being developed to make better use of the available trains and remove uneven gaps in service. TfL says it hopes to introduce this in the coming weeks.

The mayor of London has blamed the issues on a lack of funding from the government and the fact the trains are 30 years old.

Sadiq Khan has apologised for issues on the Central LineSadiq Khan has apologised for issues on the Central Line
Sadiq Khan has apologised for issues on the Central Line

Speaking at Highbury and Islington station on Thursday, the mayor said: “I want to apologise to every single Central line customer who has received a poor service. That shouldn’t be happening.

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“The reason for the poor service is that these trains are more than 30 years old. We’ve been trying to say to the government that we need support to buy new trains. That costs billions of pounds, not millions.

“The government said No in relation to the capital that we need for these trains so we’re spending £500m of our own money to refurbish these trains that can go back into circulation.

“They are having trouble with these motors. I spoke with the commissioner as recently as yesterday evening. He’s promised me they’re getting a grip with the new motors to make sure service improves and over the course of the next couple of weeks most people using the Central line should see a better service.”

LondonWorld got a chance to visit TfL’s depot in Hainault last week where engineers are working through the night to replace faulty motors on the trains. Up to 30 motors a week are currently being repaired.

TfL engineers replacing a motor on one of the Central line trainsTfL engineers replacing a motor on one of the Central line trains
TfL engineers replacing a motor on one of the Central line trains
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Glynn Barton, TfL’s Chief operating officer admitted that they were having difficulties with trains at the moment and apologised to customers.

“The teams here are working really hard to make sure we have as many trains out on the Central line as we can muster each day,” Mr Barton told LondonWorld.

“We are having difficulties at the moment. The Central line is a really old fleet. We’ve got a massive capital investment programme in the Central line coming up but unfortunately we are seeing failures cropping up in motors especially.

“Our teams are trying to get those motors which are causing the issues at the moment back on the trains as quickly as possible.

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Alongside repair works the Central line is undergoing a £500m transformation with newly refurbished trains featuring CCTV cameras and new moquette seating.

All 85 trains on the line will be overhauled and feature more reliable motors and better accessibility.

The refurbishments will not be completed till 2029, with each train out of service for about four months during its overhaul.

Mr Barton added that the refurbishments are “absolutely essential” but the process has been delayed due to an “uncertainty with government funding.”

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City Hall Conservatives Transport Spokesman Keith Prince said Sadiq Khan, who is chairman of TfL needs to “come clean” about how much longer the disruptions will last.

“Sadiq Khan must come clean on how much longer the chaos on the Central Line will last. Sadiq Khan is chairman of TfL so the buck stops with him,” said Mr Prince.

“In the past few days, TfL has gone from saying the chaos will last a few more weeks to saying they don’t know how long it will last. We now hear TfL intends to publish an emergency train timetable. 

“While Sadiq Khan and TfL like to blame the Government for their failures, the awkward truth is TfL has received over £6bn in taxpayer bailouts since 2021. In recent weeks, Sadiq Khan has found £177m for election gimmicks - £30m to stave off Tube strikes, £123m to freeze some TfL fares for one year and £24m to pause peak fares on Fridays for three months. These are clear political choices. This money could be spent speeding up the refurbishment of Central Line trains.”

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