The Anonymous Widower

Should London Improve The Sub Surface Tubes?

London’s three sub-surface lines; Metropolitan, District and Circle, are getting new S-Stock trains, but you do wonder if investment in the stations along their core route would improve things no end and perhaps even add more capacity to the lines. It should be said incidentally that the new trains will add more capacity and when they are running at full speed, they should give a further increase in passengers carried.

The part I know best is the Hammersmith and City and Circle lines from Whitechapel to Paddington.

Kings Cross St. Pancras station has already been rebuilt and has good access from the two main line stations and to the three deep lines that meet at the station.  It will be even better in a few months, when the buses have been reorganised around the new square opening outside. We tend to forget about buses, but they are often an invaluable way to get to your required train line.

Whitechapel, Liverpool Street, Moorgate, Barbican, Farringdon and Paddington stations are all on Crossrail and will probably go through a lot of changes to improve access over the next few years. The stations from Liverpool Street to Farringdon, will effectively be connected to two giant double-ended stations on Crossrail, so interchanges to the Central and Northern lines and Thameslink will be greatly improved. In fact, when you look at journeys made in the eastern part of Central London, you can see how Crossrail will transform them. Even a journey as mundane as Liverpool Street to London Bridge will be a lot easier, as you’ll just dive into the Crossrail station to walk to the Northern line at Moorgate. I’ll probably use that route to get to my 141 or 21 bus from Liverpool Street to get home.

The next station is Euston Square, which is one of those stations on the London Underground, that was built in the wrong place. They didn’t even rectify the problem, when the current Euston station was built in the 1960s, by moving it in front of the station, like the corresponding station at Kings Cross St. Pancras. Probably all that could be done is to put lifts into the North entrance to the station and improve the walking route from the main line station. When the main line station is rebuilt, Euston Square station will probably be part of the rebuilding.

Great Portland Street station is typical of many of the Central London, sub-surface stations. Short double staircases lead down to two platforms on either side of the tracks. Lifts or escalators could probably be installed, but I suspect a clever engineer or architect could do better.

Baker Street station is one of the architectural gems of the Underground and doing anything to improve it will be difficult.  The junction to the east of the station also makes things difficult operationally.

Edgware Road station, is one that needs significant improvement, although as with many of the sub-surface stations, space is limited. Since the Circle line, stopped being a circle in 2009, the station has become a nightmare, as many visitors can’t understand that you have to change trains to continue round.

Paddington station, when it is fully rebuilt and Crossrail has been opened, may help with the problems of the sub-surface lines. If I come into Paddington from say Bristol or Cardiff, I will take the bridge at the back of the train and walk to the Metropolitan line, from where I get a train to Moorgate for a bus home. But when Crossrail is running from Reading to Moorgate, I might take that route instead, by changing trains at Reading. I suspect that many commuters from Reading, will go direct to Central London stations on Crossrail. After all, that was one of the reasons for which the line is being built.

So it would seem that on the Northern part of the lines, only Edgware Road and Euston Square stations need substantial improvement.

February 3, 2013 - Posted by | Transport | , , , ,


  1. Do you know why they stopped running trains in a full circle? I read several times that they stopped doing it but haven’t come across any explanation…

    Comment by linyangchen | February 3, 2013 | Reply

    • It’s very simple really. If you have a complete circle, any miss-timings accumulate and you get lots of trains having to wait in the tunnels. By having have break, the train timings can be easily adjusted. For the same reason, the Overground isn’t a complete circle. Although, that line has a well designed break at Clapham Junction, as opposed to the one at Edgware Road, which is a bit of a compromise.

      Comment by AnonW | February 4, 2013 | Reply

      • Thanks for the explanation. I can predict many desperate people wanting to get out of the tunnels! I find it difficult to remain patient in stopped vehicles myself if I needed to get somewhere.

        Comment by linyangchen | February 14, 2013

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