Request ID: FOI-2252-2223 Date published: 04 January 2023
Dear Transport for London,
Please provide the files for the Elizabeth Line Unit Diagrams valid from the timetable change dated 11 December 2022.
This request is similar to the files issued in response to FOI-1645-2223
TfL Ref: 2252-2223
Thank you for your request received by Transport for London (TfL) on 5 December 2022 asking for information about Elizabeth Line Unit Diagrams.
Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy. You asked for:
the Elizabeth Line Unit Diagrams valid from the timetable change dated 11 December 2022
I can confirm that we hold the information you require. However, we have concluded that some of the information contained within these documents is exempt from release under sections 38 (Health and Safety) and 43 (Commercial Interests) of the FOI Act. TfL considers that the release of this information would be likely to cause the prejudice or harm indicated by the exemptions, by encouraging vandals to target specific parts of the network. Our approach to the disclosure of this information has recently changed following a security review. TfL rolling stock including those operated by Train Operating Companies as concessions such as MTR who operate the Elizabeth line, are a consistently attractive target for graffiti. There is a growing culture, fuelled by social media, which encourages graffiti on TfL trains. The Unit Diagrams requested contain information on various pages on start of day and end of day locations where trains may be stabled overnight or be potentially unsupervised for long periods of time, along with empty coaching stock moves and day time stabling locations which could not be identified from a public published timetable. The disclosure of this information would also enable a reasonable individual to work out when a lone member of staff or driver may be at a particular time, thereby making them vulnerable to attack, stalking, or impersonation which would threaten their personal safety and the delivery of services. They effectively highlight the movements of both a train and/or an individual operating in an isolated environment. This information if it became public, would make train stock vulnerable to graffiti attacks by identifying locations to target the units, which in turn increases the risk to the health and safety of both perpetrators and staff - perpetrators are likely to be trespassing into what are inherently dangerous areas, and TfL employees and other professionals (such as the police) have to deal with the consequences of vandalism and graffiti – either at the time it is being committed or in dealing with the subsequent consequences. Staff and drivers also have a right to be able to carry out their jobs safely and without threat. There is also the effect of increasing the financial burden on TfL in deterring and dealing with the effects of vandalism/graffiti. Arriva Rail London (ARL) has also confirmed that they have in the past had to amend their timetables as graffiti attackers found locations where London Overground trains were reversed or paused in the unit diagrams and caused costly damage to trains, which could also similarly impact upon the Elizabeth line, if we were to disclose these diagrams. The use of this exemption in relation to similar information was considered by the Information Commissioner in Decision Notice FS50607218, which was issued on 17 March 2016. The Commissioner upheld both the application of the exemption and the balance of the public interest. We consider the same arguments apply to your request. The Decision Notice can be viewed here: https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-taken/decision-notices/2016/1623759/fs50607218.pdf Whilst we make no suggestion that you would use this information for anything other than you own personal interest, disclosure of this information to you has to be regarded as a disclosure to ‘the public at large’, especially as this response will be available publicly on our website as we publish responses to requests in line with our transparency policy. In relation to the section 43 exemption, there is a direct financial cost to TfL and ARL/MTR as concessions in dealing with vandalism and graffiti, both in terms of protecting the network from such crime and in dealing with the consequences when it does occur – which is not just in terms of cleaning, repair and maintenance, but also the subsequent disruption it causes to the network such as having to take trains out of service or having to shut down power and suspend services. This not only leads to significant delays and inconvenience for our customers, but also has direct financial consequences for TfL such as increased passenger claims for delay compensation. It is difficult to quantify the exact costs to TfL in dealing with graffiti and vandalism, but we estimate that it is measured in millions of pounds per year – for example, see this release from the British Transport Police which cites a figure of £10million per annum: https://www.btp.police.uk/advice_and_information/how_we_tackle_crime/graffiti.aspx). The use of this exemption is subject to an assessment of the public interest in relation to the disclosure of the information concerned. TfL recognises the need for openness and transparency by public authorities, but in this instance the public interest in applying the exemption, in order to minimise risks to operational resilience, safe operation of the network, the welfare of staff and members of the general public, outweighs the public interest in disclosure. We are aware that we have previously disclosed similar information when answering previous FOI requests however we have since reviewed this decision and now consider that the above exemptions apply to the information being requested. If this is not the information you are looking for, or if you are unable to access it for some reason, please feel free to contact me. Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal as well as information on copyright and what to do if you would like to re-use any of the information we have disclosed.
Jasmine Howard FOI Case Officer FOI Case Management Team General Counsel Transport for London