Skip to content

Central line misery will last years

Many people in our district rely on the Central Line to get to work, to go out in London or Stratford, or to go shopping in our local town centres like Loughton and Epping. It’s the public transport artery that underpins the local economy in our part of Essex. It’s a system under pressure as the district seeks to meet housing needs without creating new traffic problems.

And anyone that has tried to use it recently will know that the service recently has varied between “fairly slow” and “hmm no trains at all then”. There are two reasons for this.

First we have to mention the track problems, which means trains are running slower through some sections. But the biggest problem is the unreliability of the trains. They’re really old now, over 30 years, and on any given day a substantial proportion are out of service. 

Transport for London have known for ages that the fleet was in need of a substantial rebuild, and the project to get this done is called the Central Line Improvement Programme. This work includes new motors, as well as a fully refurbished inside. The Mayor of London issued a press release when the first refurbished train finished testing. It’s a really important programme for safety and accessibility, as well as for reliability.

But all is not well. Instead of refurbishing trains, so many are breaking down that they’re just having to fix trains up. Make do and mend.

And they’re having trouble at least in part because they simply don’t have the engineering staff.

Originally TfL planned to deliver one upgraded train a month.

Today, we learnt (thanks @CLondoner92) that only two trains will be delivered by April next year. Presumably one of those is the train that the Mayor announced was ready in December 2023. And by April 2026? Only 7 more.

What are the latest forecasts for the numbers of CLIP-upgraded 1992-Stock trains completed or entering service in each financial year from 2024/25 until 2029/30?

Please see the table below for our latest forecasts for CLIP trains into service:

YearCLIP trains in service
FY 26/2725
Source: TfL

Something is going very wrong at TfL. Current funding arrangements mean there’s very little democratic accountability to Essex residents. But we hope our county and district councillors will join us in reminding the Mayor of London and TfL that every journey in Epping Forest matters, too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.