A new journey

Operating within the remit of London Underground as part of Transport for London (TfL), Jubilee, Northern & Piccadilly Lines (JNP) is tasked with managing the operation of some of busiest lines across the Underground network

JNP was formerly a part of Tube Lines until 2010, when TfL agreed to buy the Tube Lines shares that were previously owned by Bechtel and Amey (Ferrovial) for £310m. Following the deal Amey continued to provide management and maintenance services on the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines until 2017, when the decision was taken by TfL to bring its London Underground maintenance work back into the public sector. The decision for TfL to bring the maintenance of the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines fully in-house is expected to result in savings of at least JNP 139 b£80 million in management fees over the course of a decade and will allow TfL to take a more direct approach to managing the Underground network.

Across the London transport network, TfL is committed to achieving a highly efficient transport system that includes robust modern infrastructure. Within the scope of the London Underground, this is expressed through six key initiatives comprised of:

  • Putting the customer and the end user at the core of key decisions
  • A continued drive in improvement in reliability and safety
  • Accelerating capacity on the network
  • Investing in its people
  • Looking to reduce its cost base to make services more affordable and to generate further income
  • Exploiting technology to achieve positive results

The jurisdiction of JNP covers assets including 2395 bridges and structures, 200 miles of track, 100 stations, 251 trains, 227 escalators and 71 lifts. Each of the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines represents a vital component within the overall London transport network, with unique histories and maintenance requirements. “The Jubilee line currently carries circa 160 million passengers a year, with a fleet of 63 trains that are able to achieve as many as 30 trains per hour on the line at peak times, meaning that there is an arrival every two minutes. The total length of the Jubilee line is 118km, with the line itself first opening in 1979. There was an extension from Stratford to Canary Wharf during 1999 and Jubilee today represents one of the busiest lines on the Underground network with 27 stations,” elaborates JNP Head of Operations, Brian Woodhead.

“The Northern line carries 210 million passengers, with a fleet size of 106 trains, while the number of trains per hour on the line can range from 22 to 26 trains per hour depending of the branch of the line. There are 50 stations in all and the line itself first opened in 1890,” he continues. “Finally, the Piccadilly line currently carries 170 million passengers and has a fleet of 86 trains, providing 24 trains per hour on the line. It has a total length of 179km and is actually the second longest line on the network, serving 53 stations. Piccadilly was first opened during 1906 and also has one of JNP 139 cour oldest fleets, which was introduced during 1973.”

Managing three important Underground lines, in one of the world’s busiest cities, is a proposition that understandably incorporates several significant challenges. This is something that TfL is equally aware of and as such, JNP is keenly focused on delivering a service that prioritises safe operation while maintaining a highly efficient and reliable service. “Our main focus within JNP is also our main challenge, in that we are committed to achieving relentless safety and security in addition to maintaining the reliability of the trains across the line. We are here to make sure that we give as good a customer experience as we possibly can and, in terms of running the railway, ensuring that the network is safe is a constant process in everything that we do. As you can imagine, in terms of London as a whole, one of our core issues is in meeting the challenge of congestion. This means that future capacity is a key task for us and we are currently looking at upgrading the Northern line to extend it into Battersea. We are also reviewing our track-based traction control, which is the braking system on the trains that allows us to achieve a higher throughput of trains, meaning that it is possible to carry more passengers through the line more reliably. We are aiming to increase our rate on the Northern Line to 30 trains per hour to alleviate crowding at stations like London Bridge, Bank and Kings Cross, which currently handle 24 trains per hour,” Brian explains.

“The fleet belonging to the Jubilee line is currently going through a mid-life refurbishment because as you can appreciate, an aging fleet can develop problems with things like water ingress. We are focused on correcting those kinds of issue, as well as improving the flooring and ambience inside of the cars, while making sure that adequate air flow is in place and also making sure that accessibility is improved,” he adds. “This will include new areas for wheelchairs and grab rails. These are all upgrades that are designed to improve the overall passenger experience and to increase service. The first train was run out during February 2017 and the process of refurbishment will run for three years across the Jubilee fleet.”

With TfL taking over the operation of the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines, 2017 will be an important transitional period for the London Underground across the lines. To ensure that both Londoners and visitors to the capital can continue to count on a safe and reliable transport network, JNP will remain on-hand to continue to manage an effective service while investing in new infrastructure to carry the network into the future. “Our mantra is based around our operations team and what we are trying to do is to work as a single team with a purpose to make every journey better for our customers,” Brian concludes. “We focus on what we need to do internally, but this is ultimately to serve the customer and to develop an even more effective transport network.”