Row Over Shepherd's Bush Tube Closure Continues

Meeting brings concessions but more needed says Slaughter

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200 people filled the Shepherds Bush Village Hall on Thursday evening to question London Underground (LU) Director Richard Parry about the closure of the central line station from 2nd February. 

The audience of commuters, local residents and businesses heard speeches against the closure from Andy Slaughter MP and Murad Qureshi, a member of the Greater London Authority's transport committee, and then over 40 detailed questions were put to Mr Parry over a two hour period. 

What emerged was a series of important concessions on alternative transport and consultation during the works but also some shocking admissions of neglect and decisions to favour developer Westfield over passengers' needs.

*           LU described the closure as 'unprecedented' and failed to explain why Shepherds Bush's escalator replacement uniquely required a station closure.  Examples were given from much busier stations with larger scale works such as Westminster and London Bridge where closures were avoided.

*           LU said they were only closing the station now to replace the escalators, but the meeting heard that Westfield had described this as a side issue - they required the closure to ensure the ticket hall area was completed in time for the shopping centre opening in October 2008.  Until mid-December LU had promised not to close the station while they undertook this work.

*           Residents referred to drawings which showed lifts in the new station, but LU admitted they now had no plans to install these, meaning the capacity of the station - two escalators and emergency stairs - will be exactly the same after the works as before.  And that access for disabled people, and those with pushchairs or heavy luggage, will be no better than now.

*           All present asked for any closure to be delayed - to investigate why it was necessary and plan alternative services, but mainly to wait until the rest of the public transport services in Shepherds Bush were complete.  Whether taking the Overground, using new tube and bus stations or walking in safety to the next station - all will be possible within a year when Westfield opens, but are not now.

*           The Tory Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council leafleted the station and meeting on behalf of his Party's retiring MP and new Parliamentary candidate for Hammersmith to call for its closure.  But when asked at the meeting to explain why the Council supported the closure, what assistance they could provide to small businesses hit by it, or when the roadworks obstructing traffic outside the station would finish, he was unable to answer.

*           Claims put out by LU on the same day as the meeting that the closure now was 'instead of two closures' and by the Tory Party that services will be suspended because the 'buildings above ground are to be demolished', were admitted to be false by Mr Parry.  

*           LU has improved its offer on replacement bus services after Andy Slaughter's intervention with their managing director and Westfield, who have promised a six-figure sum to provide more buses.   The shuttle service to White City will now run every five (rather than 10-12) minutes and will travel via the Westway rather than round the Green.  Ten more 148 buses an hour will take passengers to Notting Hill Gate, the nearest large central line station going into town.  They have also promised to monitor the service from day one of the closure to see that the replacement services are sufficient.

*          LU has agreed to attend regular meetings with a representative group of station users, local politicians and businesses to monitor the effect of the closure, the replacement services and the progress of works - if you are interested in joining this group or wish to be kept informed of its activities please email me.


Andy Slaughter comments: 'Following the public meeting, I have written again to Tim O'Toole, LU's managing director, asking him to reconsider at least the timing of the closure.   I have also asked for confirmation that if it does go ahead replacement services will be increased to meet demand as necessary, and to ask for LU to stop making or promoting misleading statements.  So far over 5,000 people have written opposing the closure (and three supporting it), and hundreds more letters, petitions and emails are arriving in my office every day.  I hope to reach 10,000 by 2 February - and whether the closure goes ahead or not they are the best means of keeping pressure on LU. Surely they must listen to 10,000 of their paying customers?'



January 28, 2008