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West Hampstead passengers top 20 million a year

As long-suffering commuters in (and through) West Hampstead are aware, it’s feels ever more crowded at our stations – especially the tube station. But do the numbers back up that perception? We crunched the numbers, and we were surprised at the results.

Passenger flows at West Hampstead’s three stations – the Underground, the Overground and Thameslink – are measured separately, but Oyster card data allows reasonably accurate tracking of people changing trains as well as those who enter and exit here and don’t change.

To better understand how tube passenger numbers have grown, we compared West Hampstead to neighbouring Kilburn, Finchley Road, and Swiss Cottage stations. Passenger numbers at these stations have been essentially flat over the past 10 years, but at West Hampstead they are up 50% from 7.5 million to 11 million entries/exits p.a. (a whopping 3.5 million extra passengers a year).

West Hampstead passenger numbers surge from 2010 onwards

West Hampstead passenger numbers surge from 2010 onwards

The growth spurt began in 2010, but what has driven it? Part of the rise is due to development here, which looks set to increase with more recent development in and around the stations. Just 100 additional residents commuting to work 48 weeks a year is 48,000 additional journeys. However, the real driver has been, the upgrade of and the extra passengers on, the Thameslink and especially the Overground.

Thameslink use has risen steadily from 2.2 million to 3.7 million over the past ten years, but it is the Overground that has seen the real growth. In 2006, there were 1.9 million entry/exits in 2006, dipping to just over 1 million with disruption of construction. This year, that is expected to surpass 5 million.

Longer trains and a more integrated network have pushed Overground numbers up

Longer trains and a more integrated network have pushed Overground numbers up

Add them all together and total passenger entry/exits for the three stations have risen from 10.7 million in 2007 to 19.6 million in 2016 (and should be more than 20 million by 2017). That’s a doubling in ten years.  That includes an increasing number of interchanges – the data here is not perfect, but we estimate there were about 250,000 in 2007, last year it was more than 1.5 million. West Hampstead it doesn’t  just feel more crowded – it really is!

Woo-hoo a new gate at the tube station. Actually it's a real improvement. What next?

Woo-hoo, an extra gate at the tube station. A real improvement. What next?

To cope with this growth, TFL is upgrading the Overground to expand the platforms and add step-free access. At the tube station it has  added and an extra gate – which will help when it’s finally working. But this is unlikely to be the silver bullet that solves the overcrowding, although it’s a sensible step in the right direction

Another major issue we face is the lack of step-free access at the tube station. Thameslink has it, and the new Overground station will have it. The tube station is the last piece of that particular puzzle. Last week TFL announced six stations were getting funding for step free access from a £200 million pot, but depressingly, this didn’t include West Hampstead.  One of those stations is Mill Hill East station, the least-used station on the Northern Line (with 1.3 Million entry/exits p.a.).  Doesn’t quite compute.

WHBA Video Screenshot

Video highlights West Hampstead’s first class transport links

The West Hampstead Business Association (of which West Hampstead Life is a member) has been busy in the past couple of months. It’s worked with local filmmakers Krishna Govender and Tom Jones to produce a video extolling the virtues of West Hampstead’s transport connections.

The idea is to show prospective businesses that West Hampstead is a good place to do business (though no doubt estate agents will be using it freely to show why it’s also a great place to live). This is intended to be part of a series of short videos that focus on different aspects of what makes West Hampstead great.

Alongside the video, the WHBA is also responsible for the lovely hanging baskets that now adorn West End Lane and Mill Lane. Hanging baskets It also hosted a summer party at the Cricket Club with a discussion on rent and rate reviews courtesy of Jeremy Manuel and Philip Waldman, and a sprinkling of celebrity glamour from Imelda Staunton.

WHBA Summer BBQ - Imelda Staunton

Imelda Staunto captures the WHBA’s attention. Photo courtesy of David Jacobs @ Colour Division

Standard class carriage interior. (Photo courtesy of FCC)

New Thameslink trains unveiled

As part of the major upgrade to the Thameslink service, West Hampstead commuters can look forward to a fleet of state-of-the-art new trains and a more frequent, “tube-like” service. Just not quite yet. The new trains are scheduled to start coming into service in 2016, and will be gradually phased in over the following two years. But then Thameslink passengers are used to waiting.

The First Capital Connect project team, including engineering project manager Mans Alam and communications manager Roger Perkins, were at the station ticket office yesterday to talk to passengers about the developments, with a 2-metre cutaway model and video of the new trains.

Thameslink model

More services

  • There will be more regular trains at rush hour; over the 3-hour morning peak there will be a 40% increase in the number of train services calling at West Hampstead.
  • Some longer, 12-carriage trains will be in service, significantly increasing capacity.

New trains

Standard class carriage interior. (Photo courtesy of FCC)

Standard class carriage interior. (Picture courtesy of FCC)

  • The increased frequency of the service needs new trains to match. Carriages have been specially designed for ease and speed of boarding and disembarking, with wider doors and more spacious interiors.
  • Seating has been redesigned. Gone are the unpopular 3-seat configurations; instead there are two-seaters throughout. Space has been optimised for different passenger needs such as luggage, space for wheelchairs and buggies, and a baby changing area, and there is more standing room.
  • Trains are greener; FCC claims they are “up to 50% more energy efficient”.
Improved luggage space (Picture courtesy of FCC)

Improved luggage space (Picture courtesy of FCC)

Expansion of Thameslink network

The Thameslink network will expand in 2018, linking up with other routes such as the Great Northern (East Coast Main Line) routes to Cambridge and Peterborough, and the route to Sevenoaks via Elephant & Castle.

The new train, face on. Fancy a day trip to Peterborough? (Picture courtesy of FCC)

The face on view of the new trains. Fancy a day trip to Peterborough? (Picture courtesy of FCC)

If you missed the roadshow, you can see the video for yourself, including details of the expanded network.

There’s also a great selection of photos on the IanVisits blog.