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TfL told Overground services in Hackney 'must improve' after delays, cancellations and trains skipping stations

PUBLISHED: 16:23 02 October 2019 | UPDATED: 16:36 02 October 2019

Commuters left waiting as trains cancelled at Hackney Central overground station. Picture: Emma Bartholomew

Commuters left waiting as trains cancelled at Hackney Central overground station. Picture: Emma Bartholomew

Emma Bartholomew

The mayors and MPs for Hackney and Tower Hamlets have all told the Transport for London Commissioner Mike Brown that Overground services at Hackney stations have got to improve, after increasing reports of delays and cancellations.

Hackney Central overground stationHackney Central overground station

Trains are also reported to be missing Hackney stations during peak times, as part of a practice that that creates a "fast train"to Stratford - but which then leaves people at stations like Hackney Central, Dalston, Haggerston and Hoxton waiting on platforms.

The Gazette reported nearly three years ago on the practice - which appears to be a method to massage time figures.

At the time it was mainly affecting the line from Highbury to south London stations and trains were bypassing Haggerston and Hoxton. TfL blamed Southern Rail for the problem which was affecting 3.5 per cent of trains.

But now the line from Stratford to Highbury is also being affected, and causing even worse overcrowding at Hackney Central than usual.

Just this week the Gazette was affected and witnessed an empty train whizzing past a platform ram-packed with customers.

When a train finally did turn up not everyone was able to squeeze in.

Annoyingly, after "saving time" by missing stations, trains have been seen just waiting at Stratford before they head back again.

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Despite calls from MP Meg Hillier, TfL and Arriva have not made recent service statistics public, so it is impossible to know the extent of the problem.

This week TfL claimed that in the last six months fewer than 0.08pc of trains failed to stop at their scheduled station in Hackney.

Mayor Phil Glanville said the ongoing disruption to the Overground is completely unacceptable, and demanded that TfL take action.

"With our residents having faced cuts to their vital bus services it is more important than ever that they can rely on the Overground to get around the borough, get to work, and get home safely," he said.

"Instead they have experienced cancellations, delays and services skipping stations like Hackney Wick.

Rory O'Neill, TfL's general manager for London Overground, apologised and said changes to services were made as a "last resort" and were "sometimes needed to prevent causing longer disruption".

A spokesperson for TfL explained that in order to get the trains where they need to be, reduce delays and ensure they can operate a service in both directions across the network it is sometimes necessary to skip some stops.

"The decision to skip stops will mean fewer customers are impacted by knock on delays," he said.

Delays for train services into Stratford are apparently sometimes caused by issues with Network Rail infrastructure and train availability issues.

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