The latest steps to modernise customer service on London Underground, which will see more staff than ever before in the public areas of stations, got underway today.
Fewer than three per cent of journeys now involve a visit to a ticket office, as customers avoid queuing by using Oyster, topping up online or using contactless payment.
In a phased programme, station by station, staff will now move to ticket halls, gate lines and platforms to offer assistance to customers where it is needed most. There will be more LU staff on platforms than before and across the network, there will be more staff visible and available than ever to help customers buy the right ticket, plan journeys and ensure they feel safe and secure as they travel. All stations will remain staffed at all times while train services are operating.
Nick Brown, London Underground's Chief Operating Officer, said: `People - our customers and our staff - are at the centre of our approach to customer service. Throughout this year, passengers will see further improvements at stations, including more staff in ticket halls, on gate lines and platforms, where they can offer the best possible assistance. Our new customer service training programme is also underway, and staff are being equipped with the latest technology to help customers with their journeys.
`This forms part of our wider vision for the Tube, which includes a 24-hour weekend service on core parts of the network, modern air conditioned trains and rebuilt stations, with better retail outlets that reflect what our customers really want.'
Ruth Owen OBE, Chief Executive of Whizz-Kidz, said: `We are very excited about Transport for London's Fit for the Future Stations programme. Whizz-Kidz runs the UK's largest network of young wheelchair users, and our London-based Ambassadors regularly tell us that they would welcome more staff on hand to support their journeys when they need it - especially on platforms. It is very encouraging that TfL is listening to its disabled customers to improve their independent travel, and we welcome the commitment to new customer service training for their staff. We are hopeful that this work will mean that young wheelchair users feel even more confident to use the Tube for spontaneous - and planned - travel to get around the capital.'
These plans will save £50m per year, and £270m in total up to 2020/2021 alone. These are net savings and take into account one off implementation costs and voluntary redundancies. In addition, higher commercial revenue from better shops and services at stations increase these savings even further. Every penny of London Underground's fare and other revenue is reinvested in improving the network giving better value to our passengers.
A number of Underground stations already operate successfully without ticket windows, including Cannon Street, Embankment, Regent's Park, Tottenham Court Road and Wood Lane. From today South Wimbledon and Queensway stations will also have these new modern customer service arrangements. The stations will see changes to the layout of their ticket halls and improvements to ticket machines so they are easier to use and allow many more transactions some of which are currently only possible at ticket offices. Travel information and signage will also be improved. Work at South Wimbledon is expected to take around four weeks. At Queensway, the work is expected to take 12 weeks and will include the provision of extra ticket machines and a more spacious ticket hall. Both stations will be served by the Night Tube from later this year. The remainder of LU's 262 stations will be transformed between now and April 2016.
LU has been in consultation with the Trade Unions for over a year, with over 100 meetings on the details of the staffing proposals. The number of roles to be reduced has come down through this process to 897 roles, down from over 950 roles. There will remain over 5,000 station staff, with all stations staffed at all times. LU has, with the unions, carried out a station by station review and has adhered to every one of the commitments made to staff, including:
- Role reductions are being delivered through voluntary severance. There are no compulsory redundancies and not one single member of staff is being forced out
- There is a job at the company for anyone who wants to stay, and no one who stays will lose any pay
- No one will have to 'apply for their own job' or move more than 30 minutes from their current work location
- All stations will remain staffed at all times, with a staff member of Supervisor level looking after each station throughout.
- These changes on London Underground form part of a huge range of improvements that reflect the needs of a successful 24-hour global city with a rapidly rising population. London's population is set to grow from 8.4m today to around 10m by 2030 -an extra Tube train full of people every three days - and it is essential that there is continued investment in transport to meet this increasing demand.
- A new and comprehensive customer service training programme is underway for LU station staff. They are also being equipped with portable handheld devices loaded with information help customers get around, including maps, real-time service information, journey planner, ticketing options and prices, local information and more. Around 150 new ticket machines are being introduced across the network and all machines are being modernised so that staff in the ticket hall can issue new Oyster cards, give small refunds and sort out journey discrepancies.
- London Underground will introduce 24-hour 'Night Tube' services on core parts of the network from 12 September this year, radically improving night time travel options, cutting late night journey times by up to an hour and boosting London's economy.
- Work on the Northern line extension to Battersea is due to start this year, which will support thousands of new jobs and homes and enable major regeneration in the Vauxhall, Battersea and Nine Elms areas. Major progress is being made in the rebuilding of key stations like Tottenham Court Road - where a spacious new ticket hall opened this month - Bond Street, Victoria and others. More than half of London Underground's 270 stations have now been improved, with features such as tactile strips, better CCTV, help points, electronic information displays, and improved seating and lighting;
- The signalling systems on the Victoria, Northern and Jubilee lines have all now been replaced to give customers some of the most frequent metro services in the world, and the introduction of new air-conditioned trains on the District line is now underway following the successful introduction of these trains on the Circle, Hammersmith and City and Metropolitan lines;
- Visitor Information Centres are being introduced at Gatwick, King's Cross St Pancras, Euston, Paddington, Piccadilly Circus, Heathrow Terminals 1,2,3, Victoria and Liverpool Street station they are designed to offer help and welcome infrequent passengers and overseas visitors to the capital. As well as selling a full range of tickets for all TfL services, customers will also be able to purchase tickets to London attractions and tours and there will also be a wide range of travel information available;
- For more information please visit the Future Tube webpage on the TfL website: http://tfl.gov.uk/futuretube.