Indeed they now seem itching to get 33tph on the Jubilee Line but they don’t have the trains. Traditionally discussion of the Northern Line has been restrained, unless it is to illustrate how difficult it is to run a tube line and to highlight that in some ways it is a miracle we have such an intensive service at all. The Evening Standard used to routinely refer to the Northern Line as “the Misery Line.” The twin curses of being starved of investment and being the most difficult line deep-level line to run meant that it was an easy source of horror stories for commuters to read about.
Everyone, even the Government, had recognised that what was needed was a major overhaul of the line.
A comprehensive upgrade was planned for the mid 1990s, with new trains and new signalling.
The new trains arrived and constituted a vast improvement, but the signalling project was cancelled by the Government leaving the line to soldier on with out-of-date signalling equipment that was liable to breakdown.
A very strange thing has happened in the past year or so regarding London Underground and the Northern Line – senior managers have actually wanted to talk about it. One expects the usual over-excitement as they proudly remind you that London Underground can now run 33 trains per hour (tph) on the Victoria Line, or talk enthusiastically of the sheer scale of modernisation underway on the sub-surface lines.
Even evangelising over the Jubilee Line is comprehensible given that, now that it is finally working properly, its operation is increasingly impressive.
Worse, without the new signalling, the trains could not run at their full capability.
The service level failed to match the original aspirations since that relied on the signalling being replaced and consequently there were more trains available than could be usefully utilised.