Olympia to Lose Weekday Tube Service

Decision slammed by MP Andy Slaughter

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Andy Slaughter

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Transport for London is withdrawing the weekday District Line tube service running from Kensington Olympia to Earls Court, and instead boosting services on the busy London Overground line.

TfL claims the Olympia underground service is used by less than 1% of District Line passengers. However, it says it will still operate during the weekend, and will also operate special services to serve major weekday events at the Olympia exhibition centre.

TfL also says that from May 2011, Kensington (Olympia) will benefit from additional London Overground services, with four trains instead of the current three serving the station every hour.

Although this line does not go through Earls Court, passengers can change onto the Tube at both West Brompton (District line) and Shepherds Bush (Central line) stations.

The changes are part of a new timetable being introduced by TfL from December this year, which will see the Wimbledon branch of the District Line gaining five additional trains during the morning peak.

TfL says the timetable has been designed to deal with the issues associated with bottlenecks in the Earl's Court area, which is one of the most complex junctions on the Tube network and the source of many of the delays that occur on the line.

To simplify the service, reduce delays and boost services to the Wimbledon branch which is the busiest section of the District line, LU proposes to remove weekday services to Kensington (Olympia).

This will enable LU to re-route services to the Wimbledon branch, which sees nearly 30% of District line traffic, by providing five extra trains during the morning peak - an increase of 12%.

From May 2011, Kensington (Olympia) will benefit from additional London Overground services, with four trains serving the station every hour (replacing the current three-train service), with interchange to the Tube available at both West Brompton (District line) and Shepherds Bush (Central line) stations. Southern services will also continue to serve the station.

TfL points out that during the week passengers will also be able to use nearby Barons Court or West Kensington stations, both of which are within half a mile of the Olympia Exhibition Centre.

Richard Parry, Strategy and Commercial Director, LU, said: "The District line is one of the busiest lines on the Tube network used by over 700,000 people each day.

"'The introduction of the new timetable would provide significant reliability improvements for the whole line and in particular major benefits to customers who use the Wimbledon branch with an additional five trains during the morning peak.

"'This is only possible by withdrawing the under-utilised weekday Olympia District line service, however with an increase in the London Overground service to Kensington (Olympia) from May we believe that our proposals balance the needs of all customers, including those travelling to Olympia."

TfL's decision has been slammed by local MP Andy Slaughter, who says the shock announcement will also be of particular concern to local businesses that will be severely affected by a fall in the numbers of potential customers.

Commenting on the abolition of the service in his constituency, he says: "This closure will come as an enormous blow to residents and businesses in and around Olympia. It is outrageous for TFL to close down this valuable link, which is now a major rail interchange, with no public consultation.

" It is short sighted especially to those with limited mobility who will now have to walk nearly 20 minutes to the nearest underground station – I will be protesting in the strongest terms about these changes."

April 7, 2011