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London’s world class transport system -
under threat from austerity?

A new report, “World Class? London’s Transport: Progress and Future Challenges”, has concluded that despite room for improvement in air pollution, cycling safety, climate change, public transport fares and allocation of road space, London’s transport system is world class. However, the report warns that funding must be found to secure and build on improvements and to tackle the future challenges the system faces due to significant population growth and increased transport capacity demand in the Capital.

The report, one of the most comprehensive recent studies of London’s transport system, was written by Professor David Begg, commissioned by Siemens and uses data gathered from a survey of 3,500 London transport professionals. It highlights the following elements of London’s transport system as ‘world class’:

  • the performance of the transport system during London 2012;

  • the extensive and often undervalued bus network;

  • the record high performance of the Tube and the good progress made in upgrading a 150 year old asset;

  • the impressive transformation of the London Overground Network;

  • customer information, marketing and ticketing;

  • traffic flow management on the road network; congestion charging and the Low Emission Zone.

The report also outlines potential areas for improvement with a critical assessment of cycling noting that despite rapid growth, travel by bicycle still only accounts for 2% of journeys. At the same time, cyclists account for 20% of road casualties, a number which rose by a staggering 50% between 2006 and 2011.

The report also raises concerns about London’s poor air quality, which causes almost 4.500 premature deaths per year. While current policies have successfully lowered CO2 emissions, London needs to press on with reducing overall traffic levels, building the infrastructure for electric car use and increasing the use of public transport, walking and cycling. Professor Begg calls for more road space for cyclists, pedestrians and buses as well as the re-introduction of a “roads hierarchy” to encourage growth of those sustainable forms of transport.

Professor David Begg said: “Over the past 12 years there has been a transformation in the quality and capacity of transport across the capital and despite room for improvement in some areas, transport services in the capital are now running at a very high standard. Our survey shows that many transport professionals in the Capital agree, with 73% rating many elements of the system as either excellent or very good. Continued investment in London’s world class transport system is imperative to prevent any decline.”

Steve Scrimshaw, Managing Director Siemens Rail Systems UK and NW Europe, commented: “I am delighted that Siemens has been able to support Professor Begg’s study into the performance of London’s vital transport arteries, something that is fundamental to economic development. Our involvement in London’s transport infrastructure is extensive. Our trains transport passengers into the city on a daily basis, our involvement in the congestion charging, low emission zone and traffic management platforms help Transport for London to effectively manage, monitor and channel road users. We are also significantly involved in large infrastructure projects such as Thameslink and Crossrail. Siemens is intrinsically linked to London and we are committed to helping the city’s leaders find solutions to the challenges London faces both now and into the future.”

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