The Anonymous Widower

Updating The Central Line

The Central Line will breathe two huge sighs of relief in the next eighteen months.

  • The Elizabeth Line will open between Abbey Wood and Paddington stations in December 2018.
  • The Elizabeth Line will open between Shenfield and Paddington stations in May 2019.

Travellers, from London, other parts of the UK and abroad will then have the following.

  • Five  East-West interconnected routes across Central London; Metropolitan, Central, Elizabeth, District and Jubilee Lines.
  • Massive transport interchanges at Canary Wharf, Stratford, Whitechapel, Liverpool Street, Farringdon, Tottenham Court Road, Bond Street and Paddington will tie it all together.
  • Liverpool Street. Whitechapel and Stratford will allocate passengers in the East of Central London.
  • Paddington will allocate passengers in the West of Central London.

And this is before the Elizabeth Line opens between Paddington and all stations to Heathrow and Reading in December 2019.

The Central Line After the Elizabeth Line Opens

So will the Central Line become a little-used backwater?

  • Holborn is a major interchange with the Piccadilly Line, which is that line’s only access to the Central or Elizabeth Lines.
  • Oxford Circus is a major interchange with the Victoria  Line, which is that line’s only access to the Central or Elizabeth Lines.
  • Holborn, Oxford Circus, Marble Arch and other stations are destinations in their own right.
  • The overcrowding of the Central Line probably kept passengers away and after freeing up will they come back?

I suspect that in a few years time it will be as busy as it ever was!

Improving the Central Line

It is my view, and probably that of Transport for London, that improvements need to be made to the Central Line.

Three projects are underway.

The Central Line Train Upgrade

This article on Railway-news.com is untitled London Underground’s Central Line Trains Set For Upgrade.

Currently, the Central Line‘s 1992 Stock have DC motors, which will be replaced by more efficient AC motors  and a sophisticated control system.

The cost of the upgrade will be £112.1 million or about £1.3 million per train.

Transport for London are only making a reliability claim for the upgrade. Hopefully, if the trains are more reliable, then more can be in service. so can a higher frequency be run?

I also think in addition, the trains could possibly accelerate faster from stops, thus reducing the dwell times at stations and ultimately the journey times.

  • Epping to West Ruislip currently takes ninety minutes with 38 stops.
  • Ealing Broadway to Newbury Park takes sixty minutes with 24 stops.
  • Northolt to Loughton takes sixty-seven minutes with 28 stops.

Saving just ten seconds on each stop will reduce journey times by several minutes.

I suspect that Transport for London will rearrange the timetable to increase the service frequency from the current twenty-four trains per hour (tph).

It will be interesting to see what frequency of trains and journey times are achieved, when all the Central Line trains have been updated.

Bank Station Capacity Upgrade

This page on the Transport for London web site gives details of this important upgrade at Bank station, which is already underway. It starts with this paragraph.

Bank and Monument stations form the third busiest interchange on the London Underground network. Work we’re doing to substantially improve the capacity of Bank station should finish in 2022.

It lists these improvements.

  • A new railway tunnel and platform for the Northern line that will reduce interchange times and create more space for passengers
  • Step-free access to the Northern line and DLR platforms
  • More direct routes within the station, with two new moving walkways
  • Two new lifts and 12 new escalators
  • A new station entrance in Cannon Street

There will also be a new entrance in Wallbrook Square under the Bloomberg Building, which is planned to open this year.

Comprehensive is a good word to describe the upgrade.

I avoid the Northern Line platforms at Bank because they are so narrow. After the upgrade, I will have no need.

Holborn Station Capacity Upgrade

This page on the Transport for London web site, gives details of this important upgrade at Holborn station. It starts with this paragraph.

We’re proposing changes at Holborn station that would make it substantially easier for customers to enter, exit and move around the station. Subject to funding and permissions, work on the station would start in the early 2020s.

I don’t think this upgrade can come too soon.

As with some parts of Bank station, I avoid Holborn station.

What Still Needs To Be Planned?

The major projects left must surely be upgrading the capacity and providing step-free access at the following Central London stations.

St. Paul’s And Chancery Lane

St. Paul’s and Chancery Lane stations both need step-free access, but the problems of installing lifts at the two stations would be surprisingly similar, as both stations have a similar layout.

  • Both stations will need lift access to the ticket halls, which are below street level.
  • At both stations, the two Central Line tracks are unusually arranged one on top of the other.
  • Even more unusually, the Westbound tunnel is on top at St. Paul’s and the Eastbound tunnel at Chancery Lane.
  • At both stations, escalators lead down to a spacious lobby, which has direct access to the top platform.
  • St. Paul’s has two escalators and a staircase, whereas Chancery Lane has three escalators.
  • From the low-level lobby, two short escalators and a staircase lead down to the bottom platform.

It may be possible to provide lifts that go from the ticket hall to both platforms as before rebuilding in the 1930s, this arrangement was used.

Both stations might also be suitable for the application of inclined lifts.

For instance, would two escalators and an inclined lift handle the lower transfer at both stations?

Oxford Circus

Oxford Circus is a busy interchange, where the Bakerloo, Central and Victoria Lines cross each other.

This map from carto.metro.free.fr shows the lines at Oxford Circus station.

Note.

  1. The Cemtral Line, shown in red, was built under Oxford Street to avoid disturbing the buildings.
  2. The Bakerloo Line, shown in brown, was built under Regent Street.
  3. The Victoria Line, shown in light blue was cleverly threaded through in the 1960s to give cross-platform interchange with the Bakerloo Line.
  4. The dotted purple lines are the Elizabeth Line.
  5. Between the two dotted lines, the Eastern End of the platforms at Bond Street station can be seen.

These pictures show the buildings at the four corners of Oxford Circus.

Wikipedia says this about these buildings.

Oxford Circus was designed as part of the development of Regent Street by the architect John Nash in 1810. The four quadrants of the circus were designed by Sir Henry Tanner and constructed between 1913 and 1928.

Note.

  1. The building on the North-East corner used to be Peter Robinson and is Grade II Listed.
  2. The other three corner buildings are also Listed.
  3. The shops in the two Southern corners are being refurbished.

I believe that the following is needed at Oxford Circus station.

  • Measures to alleviate the overcrowding.
  • Full step-free access to all platforms.
  • Improved access to the Central Line platforms.
  • Better interchange between the Bakerloo/Victoria platforms and the Central Line.

In some ways, the biggest problem in the next few years will be passengers changing between the Victoria and Elizabeth Lines. Passengers between say Walthamstow and Heathrow will probably want to change between Oxford Circus station and the new Hanover Square entrance to Bond Street station.

  • The planned pedestrianisation of Oxford Street will obviously help, especially if the roads around Hanover Square, like Harewood Place and Princes Street are similarly treated.
  • Joining the Victoria Line at Oxford Circus is not a problem, as there are four entrances to the ticket hall under Oxford Circus, a large number of entrance gates and four escalators down to the trains.
  • But on arrival at the station, you are forced to exit from the station about fifty metres East of the station, which means you’re going the wrong way for the Elizabeth Line.

It strikes me what is needed is a new entrance to the station on the South Western corner of Oxford Circus.

But would this alone satisfy the needs of this station?

More Station Entrances On Oxford Street

For Crossrail, Bond Street station is being given two new entrances in Davies Street and Hanover Square.

But it is also being given another entrance on the North side of Oxford Street, to give better access to the Central and Jubilee Lines.

The picture shows the new entrance tucked away in what will probably become a new development.

So could this technique be used on Oxford Street to improve station access?

Look at the map of the lines at Oxford Circus station earlier in the post and you will notice that the Central Line platforms extend to the East. I took these pictures around where the platforms could end.

Could there be space to squeeze in another entrance to the Eastern end of the Central Line platforms?

It probably won’t be possible whilst traffic is running up and down Oxford Street. But after the road is pedestrianised, it would surely be much easier to dig down to the Central Line , which is not very deep below the surface of Oxford Street.

Marble Arch

Marble Arch station is at the Western end of Oxford Street. Wikipedia says this about the station.

The station was modernised (2010) resulting in new finishes in all areas of the station, apart from the retention of various of the decorative enamel panels at platform level.

But has it got the capacity needed?

It is also not step-free and needs lifts.

New Trains In The Mid 2020s

Under Future and Cancelled Plans in the Wikipedia entry for the Central Line, this is said.

The Central line was the first Underground line to receive a complete refurbishment in the early 1990s, including the introduction of new rolling stock. A new generation of deep-level tube trains, as well as signaling upgrades, is planned for the mid-2020s, starting with the Piccadilly line, followed by the Bakerloo Line and the Central Line.

The new trains would fit well to replace the current trains and give an increase of capacity to the line.

Possible Developments

These are possible developments.

Shoreditch High Street Station

There is a possibility of connecting Shoreditch High Street station to the Central Line.

This is said under Plans in the Wikipedia entry for the station.

There have also been discussions of creating an interchange with the Central line between Liverpool Street and Bethnal Green which runs almost underneath the station. However, this would not be able to happen until after the Crossrail 1 project is complete, due to extreme crowding on the Central line during peak hours.

Given that in a few years time, the following will have happened.

  • There will have been a lot of development in Shoreditch.
  • The East London Line will  have a frequency of twenty-four trains per hour.

The connection may be worth creating.

On the other hand, the Elizabeth Line may make the connection unnecessary, as travellers can use the two connections at Stratford and Whitechapel stations.

Mile End Station

If ever there was a station, where step-free access would surely be worthwhile it must be Mile End station.

Consider.

  • It is a busy station.
  • It has cross-platform access between District/Metropolitan and the Central Lines.
  • It has a cab rank.

Knowing the station fairly well, I suspect fitting the probably three lifts required would not be the most challenging of tasks.

Eastern Improvements

Crossrail has a step-free cross-platform interchange with the Central Line at Stratford, which will have the following effects.

Changing at Stratford will give better access to and from  Oxford Street, Paddington and Heathrow.

Crossrail trains will be larger, more comfortable, better equipped and probably less crowded.

Journey time savings will be six minutes to Bond Street and nineteen minutes to Ealing Broadway stations.

Taken with the improved Central Line trains, it all must result in increased patronage in the East.

But there are twenty stations East of Stratford, of which only four are step-free.

So I suspect that Transport for London will make strenuous efforts to improve the Eastern end of the Central Line.

  • More step-free access.
  • Better bus services.
  • More small retail outlets at stations.

I believe that in ten years time, the Eastern station will be very different.

Western Improvements

West of Marble Arch, there are seventeen stations, of which by 2020 only two will be step-free.; Ealing Broadway and Greenford.

Improvements will probably a similar pattern to the East, although there are rumours of rebuilding some stations.

Conclusion

There’s a lot of scope for improvement in the Central Line.

 

 

November 12, 2017 - Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , ,

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