Video: Mike Brown on the Underground and London’s economic growth

Mike Brown is looking at both the operational and the strategic importance of London Underground. Speaking at the Tomorrow’s Rail event, the then interim commissioner had one eye on the Government Spending Review due in November.

“The big challenge is partly to make the case to ensure Government recognises that investing in infrastructure and big transport schemes in London and the South East actually does create growth in the North. This is what will ultimately kick start the Northern Powerhouse,” Brown says.

“It’s also about ensuring London’s competitiveness with other big cities of the world, and actually the challenge is just making sure London can cope with the massive population increase it’s facing week by week.”

“The big challenge is partly to make the case to ensure Government recognises that investing in infrastructure and big transport schemes in London and the South East actually does create growth in the North. This is what will ultimately kick start the Northern Powerhouse”

Brown has been overseeing LU’s biggest ever capacity expansion programme. At the same time TfL has introduced its Overground service and is seeking to take over more of London’s suburban rail operations on Network Rail’s tracks.

“Broadly for transport in London it makes sense to have a different model for how we operate the inner suburban rail network. What we’ve done so far can be seen to have made a real difference for passengers through a relentless focus on performance with the operator and through coordinated investment planning,” Brown says. “Sometimes more of a London voice is needed for the capital’s transport network.”

Operationally, Brown’s main concern is that LU adequately serves passengers’ “line of route”, having people on stations, supporting access for the disabled and helping them when things go wrong.

Tube trains may soon be running to a 24 hour timetable, but is it a step too far, too soon. Is the capacity there?

“The demand is certainly there. We should be able to do it because of the investment we’ve put in and London is a 24 hour city now. We’ve seen a 200% increase in people using the night buses, for getting to work as well as going for a night out. This is an important part of all this. Our customers are serving the night time economy.”

Article written by: Jon Masters at Infrastructure intelligence

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