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TfL's Crossrail chief says commuters will see difference after Greater Anglia takeover next month

PUBLISHED: 07:00 27 April 2015

Howard Smith, TfL's director of Crossrail

Howard Smith, TfL's director of Crossrail

Archant

There are still a few years until the first Crossrail trains roll into Newham.

But commuters are hoping to see improvements sooner, with the news Transport for London (TfL) will be taking charge of the Liverpool Street to Shenfield line in just a few weeks.

And while he warned travellers not to expect to see an improvement overnight, TfL’s Crossrail operations director Howard Smith told the Recorder there would be big changes on the service as it joins the rest of the city’s transport network.

“It would not be right to describe it as Crossrail – it’s going to be called TfL Rail for the next two years,” he said.

“That’s the brand we are going to see until we introduce our Crossrail trains in 2017.

“Will it be literally transformed overnight? No.”

But he said there would be a lot of changes on the much-maligned service, currently run by Abellio Greater Anglia.

The existing fleet will be given a makeover, with new covers and better passenger information such as Tube-style maps inside the carriages.

TfL will also take over the stations, introducing more staff at each so they will be covered at all times while trains are running, and new electronic information boards for passengers.

“We will staff stations from the very first train to the very last train,” he said.

“If people need assistance getting on and off trains with ramps, they can do that without having to give notice, which is one of the differences to National Rail – you can turn up and go,” he said.

“We are increasing policing – there will be more British Transport Police around and extra patrols, particularly in the evening.

“They are not brand new trains but we will be smartening them up and giving them a refresh.”

Last summer problems with both the trains and the track – run by Network Rail – led to delays and cancellations.

“We have to be really careful about promising better reliability – we will be working very closely with Network Rail,” said Mr Smith.

“We need to keep everyone’s expectations realistic at the start.”

But he said MTR – Mass Transit Railway, the company which will run the trains on behalf of TfL – had a “big incentive to make them reliable”.

“We took over London Overground in a similar way and halved the number of delays over the past four years or so,” he said.

“But with railways, you are only as good as your last peak service.”

TfL will take over the service on May 31.

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