The Anonymous Widower

Before Overground – Walthamstow Central

When the Victoria Line was built in the 1960s, the design budget seemed to run out. Several stations like Euston, Highbury and Islington, Brixton and Finsbury Park, show British rail infrastructure design of the time at its worst.

Wikipedia includes this in its section on the history of the Victoria Line.

It had been intended to build the line beyond Walthamstow Central to Wood Street (Walthamstow), where it would have surfaced to terminate next to the British Rail station. Proposals were also made to extend the line as far as South Woodford or Woodford, to provide interchange with the Central line. However, in a late decision in 1961 the line was cut back to Walthamstow (Hoe Street) station, renamed Walthamstow Central in 1968.

So does this late cutback, explain why Walthamstow Central is another station in this design disaster group?

The station has the feel of something designed on the spur of the moment, with a simple subway underneath the Chingford branch to access the Victoria Line platforms. To get between the Chingford branch platforms and the entrance to the Underground station, you need to negotiate a tricky staircase. It’s almost as though London Underground designed the lower half and British Rail did the top.

A station designed today would probably incorporate escalators, lifts and wide straight staircases.

I can’t help thinking that the original plan of connecting the two lines at Wood Street was the correct one.

Wikipedia says this in its description of the station.

The underground station, like many stations on the Victoria line, was never completely finished. White ceiling panels were never fixed to the ceilings above the platforms; instead the steel tunnel segments were painted black and used to support the fixtures and fittings. This has had a detrimental effect on the lighting levels. There is a concrete stairway between the two escalators instead of a third escalator; this caused a hugely disruptive station closure for several weeks in 2004 when both escalators went out of service.

As Walthamstow is going through a building boom in the moment and traffic through the station will only increase, we must accept what’s done is done  and we must find a way of correcting the mistakes of the past!

We can do two main things.

1. The interchange routes between the two lines at Walthamstow Central can be made easier by the addition of escalators and/or lifts.

2. We must provide alternative routes that take the pressure off Walthamstow Central. One simple idea would be to reinstate the Hall Farm Curve, which would allow trains to go a reopened Lea Bridge station and the major transport interchange at Stratford, with access to two Underground lines and the DLR.

As with many transport problems in London, I think that in 2018, London’s transport problems will change, with the arrival of the two biggest beasts of all; Crossrail and Thameslink.

1. Crossrail with its stations at Liverpool Street and Stratford will be fed directly by the Lea Valley Lines and pressure should be taken off the Victoria and Central Lines.

2. Thameslink calls at Finsbury Park, so will line be able to act as a bypass for those coming from Walthamstow and Chingford, who need to go to South London.

Hopefully all the changes will be for the better!


October 3, 2014 - Posted by | Transport | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] suppose Walthamstow Central could be added to this list, but the problems there are more fundamental and are more down to the […]

    Pingback by Before Overground – The Terrible Fifteen « The Anonymous Widower | October 4, 2014 | Reply

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