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21 September 2023

Swan causes chaos for early morning commuters

21 September 2023

A rogue swan on a major rail route between Kingston and Hampton Wick led to multiple delays and cancellations on South Western Railway on Wednesday morning. The swan's presence on the tracks necessitated slower train speeds, causing disruption until about 9:30 am. Train services were affected, with some being revised or cancelled. Added to this, passengers had to deal with wet and windy conditions, although the company stated that this weather wouldn't impose speed restrictions. The incident sparked humorous comments from commuters, referencing the comedy film 'Hot Fuzz'.

The RMT union has announced that thousands of London Underground station workers will strike for two days in October, due to job cuts and safety fears. The planned walkouts on October 4 and 6 coincide with another strike by Aslef members and the end of the Tory party conference. The union has been in a dispute over the loss of 600 staff and worsening working conditions since last year. The RMT warns the job cuts will result in more unstaffed stations and reduced safety standards. The union is urging Mayor Sadiq Khan to urgently address the issue.

The Green Party's analysis of data from City Hall reveals extensive reductions in bus services across London boroughs between 2014/15 and 2022/23, with outer boroughs hit despite London mayor Sadiq Khan's promises of improvements. Kingston Council, amongst others, intends to continue pressuring Transport for London for improved public transport and funding. Critics argue that the cuts are especially damaging in light of the recent Ultra Low Emission Zone expansion, and call for more investment in bus services, particularly in areas of highest need. A spokesperson for the mayor asserts that Khan has taken measures to protect bus services in spite of government cuts.

Transport for London (TfL) persists in seeking support for an efficient Elizabeth line service from Old Oak Common, due to suspicions that the station may supersede Euston as the terminal for HS2. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is thought to be considering the elimination of the section projected to join Old Oak Common and Euston, potentially saving about £4.8 billion. There have been concerns about the Elizabeth line's capability to service Old Oak Common without additional funding, especially as the Euston leg of HS2 faces delays due to soaring costs.

Transport for London (TfL) has introduced four new Cycleways in north and east London, designed to enhance safety while increasing accessibility for cycling throughout the capital. The Cycleways link communities in Enfield and Waltham Forest, with 10 new routes launched in July. This addition to London's existing cycle network includes a 10km route in Enfield, part of the city’s longest continuous cycleway stretching over 20km. TfL plans to continue investing in active travel schemes to make cycling more accessible, after seeing a significant rise in cycling in north and east London.

Passengers experienced significant rush hour delays on the Central and Metropolitan Tube lines on Wednesday morning (September 20). Transport for London (TfL) reported considerable delays on the Central line due to insufficient control room staff. A track fault at Chalfont & Latimer resulted in no Metropolitan Line service to Chesham. Major delays occurred between Harrow-on-the-Hill and Aldgate, with minor delays noted between Harrow-on-the-Hill and Uxbridge, Watford, and Amersham. Valid tickets were accepted on various alternative transport options.

The southbound Blackwall Tunnel faces closures on the weekends of September 30 to October 2 and October 7-9 due to work on Sadiq Khan’s Silvertown Tunnel project. Transport for London advises drivers to plan ahead and notes that other restrictions, such as at Rotherhithe Tunnel and Tower Bridge, should be considered. If weekend work is insufficient, overnight closures may also take place from October 2-6. Subsequent work on the northbound carriageway may also impact southbound traffic. A further southbound tunnel closure is anticipated in late October or early November.

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, has approved the removal of most traffic calming measures, including in Old Bethnal Green Road and Brick Lane. The decision goes against consultations indicating residents' support for these measures, which aimed to improve road safety and air quality. Mr Rahman cited the negative impact on less affluent residents and the local economy as reasons for the reversal. Despite the removal of most measures, the Canrobert Street closure and the 33 'school streets' will remain. The council also plans to invest £6m in enhancing air quality, including tree planting and promoting walking.

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