Anyone you work with who takes the Central Line in has probably been chewing your ear off about it for the whole of this year so far. But yes, they may not actually be being dramatic, because the Central Line is currently undergoing a train shortage problem which has led to severe delays being listed in the update board for pretty much all of time.
It’s not yet clear how long this will go on for, but here’s what we do know about the delays to the Central Line at the moment.
Why is the Central Line suffering from severe delays?
TfL has said that the major issue lies with the train stock being too low, with a “high casualty rate” among old train units. There have reportedly been less than half of the 78 trains needed to run the peak service in use.
The Mayor Of London has also suggested that some fault lies with the government for not enough investment in the sector.
Sadiq Khan spoke to MyLondon this week, and said: “I want to apologise to all those using Central line service who’ve received a service less than it should be. We know that actually the Central line trains are some of the oldest in the country. We know the Government’s not giving TfL the capital support we need.
“This year, they only gave us a fraction of the expenditure we’re going to do over the next year. We are spending money refurbishing the Central line trains. But, I’m afraid this is a consequence of a lack of investment in capital from the Government.”
When did the Central Line start being affected by severe delays?
Issues with the Central Line have been happening since December 2023, with the line affected for the whole of January and the first few days of February.
When can we expect usual service to resume on the Central Line?
TfL commissioner Andy Lord has once again apologised for the delays to the service, and has said the hope is for service to improve in the “next few weeks”. In a report this month, he wrote:
“Alongside the repair work, we have put in place additional arrangements to increase our supply of spare motors; this will enable us to start to rebuild some resilience and improve services over the coming weeks, reducing the number of trains out of service and meaning we can return trains to service more quickly.
“While this should help improve services for customers, the motor failures are still occurring at a higher rate than we have seen before so some disruption to normal service levels is likely to continue. We are continuing to work urgently to identify further solutions.”
The Central Line trains also undergoing a £500m redevelopment plan to ensure the units can last for another 10-15 years. Five trains are currently being taken off tracks at a depot in Acton for refurbishment, but once this is complete they must undergo lengthy tests to ensure they are safe for use. a refurbished train did hit the tracks on November 24, but it needed to return to the depot for extra modification.
Can I still use the Central Line?
This depends on the day you intend to travel. On some occasions, there are still semi-frequent trains running along the line, albeit slightly less often than usual, though passengers have also reported overcrowding and delays of 15 minutes.