The Metropolitan line timetable was updated in May 2013; however, although marginally quicker than when first introduced, it is still based on the timetable introduced in December 2011. It is this which is at the root of concerns being expressed about London Underground’s commitment to services outside Greater London and its accountability for them.
The Metropolitan line is longer than other Tube lines so the current ‘all-stations’ off peak timetable is not appropriate for users from Amersham, Chesham and Rickmansworth.
- Fast services ran from Amersham and Chesham, running fast from Moor Park to Harrow on the Hill, then calling at Wembley Park, Finchley Road and Baker Street. Prior to 2010, these services did not call at Wembley Park.
- Semi-fast services ran from Watford calling at all stations to Harrow on the Hill, then calling at Wembley Park, Finchley Road and Baker Street. Prior to 2010, these services did not call at Wembley Park.
- All-stations services ran from Watford and Uxbridge and called everywhere.
This pattern of services meant that passengers travelling from beyond Greater London were able to reach Central London in 50 minutes from Chesham, 45 minutes from Amersham, 40 minutes from Chalfont and Latimer, 35 minutes from Chorleywood and just over 30 minutes from Rickmansworth.
Under the current timetable, all off peak trains from all destinations call at all stations. During off peak periods, (weekdays outside 7.00 – 10.00 and 16.30 – 19.00) and all day at weekends, no fast services operate.
This has added about 10 minutes to London services from Amersham, Chesham – Rickmansworth. This may not seem a huge difference, but the service was already unacceptably slow and is now very tedious. The section below – Comparable Journey Times – gives examples of journeys of a similar distance from Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
The current timetable is available for download below:
- Amersham/Chesham Tube Guide (PDF format).
The difference in these journey times is quite shocking:
Chesham to Baker Street (Met) v Berkhamsted – Euston (London Midland)
Met line time: 61 minutes – London Midland time: 35 minutes
Amersham to Baker Street (Met) v High Wycombe – Marylebone (Chiltern Railways)
Met line time: 54 minutes – Chiltern Railways time: 33/37 minutes
Chorleywood to Baker Street (Met) v Denham – Marylebone (Chiltern Railways)
Met line time: 47 minutes – Chiltern Railways time: 30 minutes (some trains take 20 minutes)
Rickmansworth to Baker Street (Met) v Watford Junction – Euston (London Midland)
Met line time: 43 minutes – London Midland time: 20/24 minutes
Perhaps not immediately obvious is that passengers from stations Amersham – Rickmansworth may as well not bother catching the Met line trains originating from Amersham to London as Chiltern services overtake them. Effectively, this is a reduction of two useful trains per hour for these stations.
Why are Met line users discriminated against with such slow journeys?
It is hard to obtain official data about the impact of the new service on passenger numbers, but certainly there is much anecdotal evidence about passengers’ dislike of the all-stations service.
A regularly-made observation is that passengers are switching away from Met line services and using Chiltern Railways services to London instead. This, however, is not an option for Chesham passengers unless they drive to Amersham – and there is certainly anecdotal evidence for this actually happening, a practice which flies in the face of TfL’s stated aims of reducing car dependency. Perhaps being outside of London means it doesn’t matter…
One Chesham passenger said the following:
‘I no longer travel into London at weekends nearly as much as I used to; I can’t be bothered with the journey. Also, I recently found that it was easier to see bands play in Oxford as it was quicker to get home from there by car instead of the tedious and long journey on the Met line, so I won’t be doing that in London again.’
Journeys also involve more crowded trains. As trains stop at all stations, there is always competition for seats, especially now that the new S stock trains have been introduced with much reduced seating.
During peak hours, passengers from Rickmansworth do not enjoy a very frequent Chiltern Railways service as many Chiltern services do not stop there leaving passengers with little option but to use the Met line. Chiltern Railways introduced a new timetable from December 2012 but this has not increased the number of peak hour services calling at Rickmansworth. In addition, it has led to the removal of off peak, timetabled connections between Chiltern Railways and LU’s Chesham services at Chalfont and Latimer.
The formal response from Chorleywood Residents Association to the consultation for this new timetable is available below:
LU should place a greater focus on journey times for outlying areas. Target journey times, comparable with other local services, would be:
- Chesham – Baker Street: 35 minutes
- Amersham – Baker Street: 30 minutes
- Rickmansworth – Baker Street: 25 minutes
All peak hour Met users to stations north of Rickmansworth would benefit from the removal of the Wembley Park stop from the northbound peak hour fast/semi-fast services. This stop was introduced from December 2011 and the impact has been to exacerbate the lack of available seating on the new trains. Removal of the Wembley Park stop would ease this with minimal impact on travellers to Wembley Park who enjoy services from both the Metropolitan and Jubilee lines.
London Underground should also review the decision to not provide semi-fast services during off-peak periods to Watford or at any time to Uxbridge. The financial benefit of time saved by the passenger numbers using these services would surely outweigh the finanial benefit of the time saved by passenger using Wembley Park, Preston Road and Northwick Park.