Oct 7 2009 By Michael Russell
Mayor Boris Johnson in Ealing
BORIS Johnson caused a buzz in Ealing Broadway when he was shown the state of the station and given an insight into some of the police work in the borough.
Startled passers-by stopped, stared and took photos of the Mayor of London, who had made the journey west, fresh from his (slightly wooden) appearance on EastEnders the night before.
He was invited on Friday by Ealing Council leader Jason Stacey and parliamentary candidate for Ealing Central and Acton Angie Bray to press their concerns about the out-of-date Ealing Broadway Station.
The main problem is passengers are funnelled down the stairs through the station's only entrance with no access for the disabled. But Transport for London (TfL) say improvements can only be carried out to coincide with the new high-speed Crossrail service planned to carry passengers from Shenfield in the East to Heathrow and Maidenhead in the West in 2017.
Ms Bray said: "We've finally got Boris to come and see the station for himself, that it's waited a long time for the improvements it's been crying out for. Crossrail is nearly here and our message is this station needs to be at the top of the list when it comes."
Another option mooted was opening up the back of the district line to create another entrance as that area will not be touched by the Crossrail works.
Mr Johnson said: "There's going to be massive changes to the station when Crossrail comes. I've been here many times at rush hour and know exactly what it feels like to try to hurry up those stairs in the huge press of humanity.
"I'm going to ask Tfl about the cost of the other exit but the difficulty is we face a massive budgetary squeeze and the things we want to do urgently are having to be shelved."
Ealing Council Leader Jason Stacey added: "My concern is the focus will be on central stations when Crossrail comes. My priority for the day was for him to see Ealing Broadway Station and, now he has, I'm hoping he will impress upon the powers that be that it needs extra attention."
The mayor spoke to members of the Ealing Cycling Campaign who also made the argument for step-free access to the station and asked him to make sure bikes will be allowed on Crossrail trains.
He said he'd taken their concerns on board and supported their drive to get more bike stands. Although he added bike lockers were not the way forward and said: "I don't want people to get into the mindset that the only safe bicycle is one in a locker. And I urge police to be more draconian with bike thieves."
The rest of the hour-long visit was spent with Ealing Broadway's new Safer Transport Team, introduced in March along with one based in Southall.
Borough commander Sultan Taylor and superintendent Ian Jenkins also introduced two police officers who have been seconded from Poland to help build relations with the the borough's Polish population.