The Northern line could become the overcrowded “misery line” again at peak times due to a delay in providing extra trains, it is claimed.
Transport for London (TfL) has announced it is suspending plans to provide extra trains for both the Northern and Jubilee lines.
Union leaders and South London councillors have slammed the decision, saying it could have dire consequences for the local economy.
The upgrade would have given the Northern line 17 new trains so it could run a 30-train per hour service.
Passenger demand on its routes is set to rise by a further 25 per cent by 2023. The plans would also have given the Jubilee line 36 trains per hour with 10 new trains.
Finn Brennan, district organiser for the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) union, said: “Without new trains, overcrowding will get worse and worse and the Northern line risks returning to the days when it was known to millions of Londoners as the ‘misery line’.
“It is deeply disappointing and looks like a classic example of making medium-term savings that damage the long-term ability of the tube to cope with London’s growth.”
Commuters are also furious. James Boughen, 24, who lives in Clapham High Street, said: “It’s not so much that they’re overcrowded, they’re just full.
“Once I counted six trains come and go without space for a single person to get on. It’s ridiculous. I live on top of Clapham Common station and I can’t take the train to work.
“I have to take the bus now which adds an extra 20 minutes and £2 to my commute every day.”
Southwark councillor Mark Williams, cabinet member for regeneration, said: “This major delay is extremely disappointing for us, and for residents, who share our view that the Jubilee line upgrade is central to our plans for positive improvements to the Canada Water area.
“We need these additional trains to meet current and future demand and for residents to easily connect with the rest of London.
“We will be writing to the Mayor of London to outline our concerns and urge consideration for funding to be assigned to this vital upgrade.”
David Hughes, London Underground’s director for strategy and network development, said: “The benefits from the largest investment programme in the Tube’s history, combined with the huge capacity increases coming soon from the arrival of the Elizabeth line, means that we are temporarily pausing our plans to buy more trains for the Jubilee and Northern lines.
“Our modernisation programme and in-depth technical work by our new combined engineering division has improved performance and reliability.
“This means we can increase the frequency of our existing trains without the immediate need for new trains, making journeys quicker and more comfortable for thousands of customers every day.”
William Roxburgh, 32, who gets the train from his home in Tooting to his work in Bank, said: “It’s not that bad overall. It is at Clapham, I guess, but otherwise I always get on the first train and it’s spacious in the middle of the carriage.”