Picking Up the Piccadilly

Rail Travel

Created on: November 26, 2018

Updated on: November 26, 2018

If you have waited for a train on a Saturday in inner west London to take you to the outer reaches of west London on the Piccadilly line. You may have come across the scenario where you are waiting a very long time for a Rayners Lane / Uxbridge train.

In fact, one out of every four trains, is an Uxbridge / Rayners Lane train and this means you have a very long wait at Hammersmith or wherever you are on the core.

Why We Favour Heathrow?

In my previous articles, I talk about the reasons why branch lines exist and how they are a cheap way of serving more and more destinations.

One of the reasons behind this wait is the simple fact that the powers that be favour trains going to Heathrow as opposed to trains going to Uxbridge

The Piccadilly line is one of those tube lines that goes to the heart of Heathrow and you would want to run more trains in that direction to drum up business. However, there are a number of issues with the link including the fact that the trains are elderly and there are lots of problems with the Victorian signalling and you can’t stop sending trains on the Rayners Lane branch.

However, there is change that is on the horizon, the Piccadilly line will be one of the first lines to be upgraded after the sub surface lines (Circle, District, Metropolitan & Hammersmith & City lines) are upgraded this is expected towards the mid to late 2020’s.

Enter Ealing Broadway

Recently there has been some chatter on the airwaves about how the sub surface lines upgrades will impact on the Piccadilly line.

In case you didn’t know, the Piccadilly line shares a lot of its infrastructure with different lines, for example the Piccadilly line shares the same infrastructure on the Uxbridge branch of the Metropolitan line. What we now know as the Piccadilly Rayners lane branch originally started as the District line anyway.

We will examine one aspect of this chatter and this is the rumour that the Piccadilly line will eventually take over the Ealing Broadway branch of the District line. And in doing so this will mean that the Piccadilly line will have 4 branches to it (Heathrow T5, Heathrow T4, Uxbridge & Ealing).

This would mean that if you were to wait for a train, you will have to wait for one in five trains instead of the current one in four trains that run to Uxbridge. This means that we will have an extended wait of perhaps 20 minutes on a Saturday before you see any sign of a train.

It is interesting to note that the District / Piccadilly line has a single track between Acton Town and Ealing Broadway and this means you can only squeeze a finite number of trains through it and on to the Ealing Broadway / Rayners Lane branch.

Chiselling Through Chiswick

Some of you may rightly say, well what about Chiswick Park and this is a red herring. There has been talk of an extra set of points being installed just before Chiswick Park in order to accommodate the changing service pattern.

However, I am not sure what kind of impact that this would have on the trains crawling through the Acton Town – Ealing Common corridor. What about Turnham Green’s erratic service on late weekday nights?

I personally think that this is a bad idea and I do think that something a bit more radical is needed to resolve the impasse regarding the lack of trains on the Uxbridge / Rayners Lane branch.

Radical Changes Are Needed

What we need is a shuttle service that would run between Uxbridge and Acton Town and or Ealing Broadway that would run each and every day. This would mean that the frequency of the trains would increase and perhaps they could segregate this line from the rest of the Piccadilly line.

It might be a good idea to call it the Rayners line since this is an interesting take on the part of Harrow whose name was derived from a road as opposed to the local developer’s name of Harrow Garden Village. This name wasn’t used because it would confuse people on nearby Harrow-On-The-Hill.

This means that you could effectively increase the throughput of the Piccadilly line without breaking the bank. I wouldn’t mind changing at Acton Town if I was assured that the Rayners Lane branch had the right amount of trains running on it.

West London Line

For the time being I am better off using the West London line on the Overground as opposed to the Piccadilly line on the tube because it remains to be seen whether the powers that be will resolve the glaring lack of trains on this branch

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