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Central Line Service Disruption


Support LRA13 May 2024
Transport for London's new timetable has enabled long gaps between trains to be minimised but you may still have to wait longer for a train than before the disruption. Their intention is to run trains every 5-8 minutes. According to the current ("temporary") timetable, there are no trains starting at Loughton during the 7am - 9pm peak, so you will continue to be lucky to find a seat on the morning commute.

TfL provide further updates on their website.



12 April 2024
The service on the Central Line remains disrupted with fewer trains in service due to motor failures. Transport for London (TfL) has said that they have increased the rate at which they can repair and replace defective motors, and are working to reduce the number of trains out of service for other age-related reasons. The majority of speed restrictions on the Epping and Hainault branches have now been lifted although some speed restrictions remain in place for safety reasons because of issues with track monitoring equipment.

TfL provide further updates on their website.

The temporary shuttle buses between Chingford, Loughton and Epping have stopped as very few people used them.



27 March 2024
Transport for London (TfL) have announced that the temporary shuttle buses between Chingford, Loughton and Epping will stop running after Thursday 28 March as very few people used them.

Most speed restrictions on the Epping branch have now been lifted, however some restrictions remain for safety reasons because of issues with track monitoring equipment.


The latest information is on TfL's website.


22 March 2024
The service on the Central Line remains disrupted with fewer trains in service due to motor failures. With the new temporary timetable in place from late February, Transport for London (TfL) is able to better regulate gaps between trains, however wait times may be longer than before the disruption.

In addition temporary speed restrictions remain in place in certain sections due to the breakdown of the Track Recording Train (which inspects the track for faults). TfL has said that the restrictions on the eastern sections of the line should be lifted around now.

If you are going into or via Liverpool Street, there is a TfL shuttle bus between Loughton and Chingford stations on Mondays to Fridays during peak hours that connects with London Overground services to Liverpool Street (more details from TfL).



1 March 2024
Central Line Service Disruption

Service on the Central Line deteriorated further this week. Trains continue to have an abnormally high number of motor failures, with far fewer trains available to run the service which is particularly noticeable at peak times. On top of that a week ago the Track Recording Train (which inspects the track for faults) suffered a breakdown, so trains have been running slower this week in sections that have not been able to be checked.

Disruption is likely to continue for some time as the motor failures are widespread and difficult to fix. The 500 million Central Line Improvement Programme (CLIP) will eventually replace the motors but won't have a noticeable impact on the service this year.

A temporary timetable has been introduced to increase reliability and minimise unpredictable long gaps between trains. At peak times gaps between trains are a lot longer (e.g. 6-8 minutes instead of 3-5 minutes). With no trains turned around at Loughton, they will all come through from Epping, thus they will be very full when they arrive at Debden and Loughton stations.

Once the Track Recording Train is back in service, trains should return to their normal speed, unless TfL can find an alternative way to check the track.

If you are going into or via Liverpool Street, there is a TfL shuttle bus between Loughton and Chingford stations on Mondays to Fridays during peak hours that connects to London Overground services to Liverpool Street.

- Morning service from Loughton to Chingford stations (06:28 - 09:58). Departures at 08, 23, 38 and 53 minutes past the hour.
- Evening service from Chingford to Loughton stations (15:25- 19:25). Departures at 10, 25, 40 and 55 minutes past the hour.

The journey time is approximately 25 minutes. (There is also another shuttle bus between Epping and Chingford.) In addition, the 397 bus between Debden and Loughton to Chingford stations is another option.

TfL provide updates on their website.


LRA Comment: As we reported in November, spending 500 million to extend the life of the present 1992 stock by refurbishing them may be a false economy and can be seen as a stop-gap measure. They are already 30 years old and likely to be completely obsolete in a decade's time. With a less restricted government investment policy in TfL, they would be due for replacement now, not in 15 years' time with the cost of new trains possibly at 1.5 billion (based on the current cost of replacing Piccadilly Line trains).

We also note that continued expansion of housing in the area implies greater use of public transport. The disconnect between housing targets and investment in Central Line infrastructure is stark.



Central Line9 February 2024

Central Line trains continue to have an abnormally high number of motor failures. Transport for London (TfL) engineers say the work to fix the motors is complex and this means fewer trains are available each day while the work takes place. This is particularly noticeable at peak hours with greater demand on the service. It is reported that the number of trains available over the last fortnight had ranged from 44 to 66, and typically little more than 50. To run a peak service, 78 trains are required. More in this news report with video.

Refurbished motor parts have been delivered and are being fitted them to allow several trains back into service over the coming weeks. Disruption is likely to continue for some months, and the only practical advice from TfL is to allow for more time for your journey.

It is also reported that an emergency timetable will be introduced (we understand on 4 March) to try to regulate the gaps between trains. There will also be more buses on bus route 20 between Debden and Walthamstow Central.

A shuttle bus from Epping to Chingford via Loughton is reported to have started running this week (and residents have reported seeing such buses out and about), enabling passengers get to Chingford and onto the Overground service into Liverpool Street. TfL have not published a schedule yet but we have seen them appear and disappear on TfL's Journey Planner, but only Loughton to/from Chingford as a 25 minute journey.

This problem is separate to the Central Line Improvement Programme which is overhauling the existing trains over the next few years. The programme will replace the (currently failing) DC motors with AC motors. In 2016 this replacement was planned to be done by 2022, however the work was delayed by the pandemic. Even so the risk of failing motors must have been envisaged by TfL along with some thought to mitigate the disruption that could (and did) happen.

TfL have also issued this email to customers. TfL have not published a schedule for the shuttle bus

We are sorry for the ongoing disruption to your Central line service. As promised, we are writing to provide you with an update on the work we are doing to improve the situation.We know that the disruption has been going on too long and whilst it is likely that this will continue for a few more weeks, we are working around the clock to bring improvements as quickly as possible.As noted in our last email, the Central line trains are over 30 years old and despite our engineers working hard to keep the fleet in good operating condition, we are experiencing higher than normal rates of motor failure. This is the main reason for the disruption you're currently experiencing. Our engineers are working with external experts to fully diagnose the issue and identify lasting solutions. We are fully focused on getting more trains back in service so that we can operate a good service as soon as possible.To do this, we are increasing the rate at which we can repair and replace defective motors. We are also working to reduce the number of trains out of service for other age-related reasons. We are also introducing other measures to help improve the situation. In the short term, to increase reliability and minimise unpredictable long gaps between trains, we plan to introduce a new temporary timetable in the next four weeks.This is an intricate process requiring changes to signalling, rostering, power supply and other operating systems on the Tube network. We need to make sure these changes are made safely. As soon as we are ready to introduce the new timetable, we will let you know. For now, we have increased the number of buses at some of the affected stations in east London to give you better and more frequent connections to other lines. There is also a dedicated bus shuttle service to help with journeys between Epping and Chingford via Loughton during weekday peak times. Use Journey Planner or the TfL Go app to plan your journey. In the meantime, please continue to allow more time for your journeys, check before travelling and consider using alternative routes to or through central London. If your journey has been delayed by 15 minutes or more, you may be entitled to a refund. Visit our refunds page for more details. We thank you for your patience and are sorry for the disruption to your Central line service. Yours sincerely,Customer Information TeamTransport for London