The Anonymous Widower

Is This A Simple And Affordable Solution To Providing Step-Free Access At Essex Road Station?

The access to and from the platforms at Essex Road station, is not the best.

There is a set of tunnels beneath the two platforms.

  • The tunnels are connected to the surface, by a pair of large lifts and an emergency spiral staircase.
  • The tunnels are connected to the platforms by two wide sets of stairs.
  • One set of stairs is for passengers leaving the station and the others are for those arriving.

This set of pictures shows some of stations underground features.

It looks to be a difficult station to make step-free.

  • The platforms are narrow.
  • There is very little space in the station building to add more lifts direct to the platform.
  • I’m not sure,but the rail tunnels might be under the Canonbury Road, which runs outside the station.

Unless its possible to use the Greenford solution.

This picture shows the inclined lift/stairs and escalator installation at Greenford station.


  1. The inclined lift has a capacity of about 4-6 people in normal times.
  2. The staircase is double, with a handrail up the middle.
  3. The escalator is permanently set to up.

It should be noted that Greenford station has two Central Line platforms and one National Rail platforms.

Could this type of installation be used at Essex Road station?

I will look at a few points and issues.

Station Usage

It should be said, that despite the different natures of the station, we are not comparing apples with oranges, as to get between the street and platforms at both stations, passengers have to use the stairs at Essex Road station or the multi-mode installation at Greenford station.

Entries and exits to Essex Road station over the last four years are as follows.

  • 2016-17 – 811,000
  • 2017-18 – 861,000
  • 2018-19 – 857,000
  • 2019-20 – 768,000

The average is 824,000

National Rail entries and exits to Greenford station over the last four years are as follows.

  • 2016-17 – 230,000
  • 2017-18 – 151,000
  • 2018-19 – 153,000
  • 2019-20 – 170,000

The average is 176,000

Central Line entries and exits to Greenford station over the last four years are as follows.

  • 2015 – 4,720,000
  • 2016 – 4,810,000
  • 2017 – 4,680,000
  • 2018 – 4,250,000

The average is 4,615,000

The total for Greenford station is 4,791,000 or nearly six times as much as Essex Road station.

In fact, the difference is bigger than that as Essex Road station could have a pair of installations, so the capacity of each of the Essex Road installations, would only need to be a twelfth of that of the Greenford installation.

London’s Single Escalators

London has several single escalators.

Three pictures are from Moorgate and the other one is at Greenford.

Could Pairs Of An Inclined Lift And An Escalator Be Fitted In At Essex Road Station?

It would be tight to fit a pair in one staircase, but I’m sure it would be possible. Especially, if the shaft could be widened a bit.

If they could be made to fit, then a simple program of works could be applied.

  • Close one staircase and use the other staircase for both entry and exit. As there is a cross-tunnel, passengers would be able to walk between the lifts and the platforms, by walking about an extra thirty metres or so.
  • The closed tunnel would then be gutted and an inclined lift and escalator would be fitted and tested.
  • Once complete and tested, it would be opened to passengers.
  • The station would now be entrance-only or exit-only, whilst the second lift and escalator were fitted and tested.

Being entrance-only or exit-only would not be the greatest problem, as the 271 bus parallels the rail route between Highbury & Islington and Moorgate stations.

Could An Inclined Lift And A Pair Of Escalators Be Fitted?

In this installation, one shaft would be fitted with a pair of escalators and the other with an inclined lift.

A similar program of works to that I laid out previously would be applied.


Essex Road station could be made step-free.

Because of the bus routes in the area and the 271 in particular, it wouldn’t cause the greatest of inconveniences to close the station for some time.

December 4, 2020 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

The Steps At Dalston Junction Station

Dalston Junction is a four-platform station and these are the only stairs at the station.

I think the design is excellent.

  • They serve all four platforms, so you can’t go the wrong way!
  • They are very wide, so have a high capacity.
  • There are effectively four handrails for those like me, who want or need to hold on.
  • Fit travellers who can lift their case, can use the stairs.
  • There is a landing half-way up.
  • The stairs are well-lit.
  • in 2017-2018, the stairs handled nearly six million passengers.
  • The small number of interchange passengers don’t need to use the stairs and walk between platforms on the level.
  • The steps are Transport for London’s typical low-slip design.
  • At the bottom of the staircase, there is a wide landing area with two train information displays and a 20-30 metre walks to the four platforms.
  • At the top of the staircase there is a wide lobby, with the wide gate-line in front of passengers coming up the stairs.
  • There is usually, a member of the station staff watching the passenger flows and answering any questions.

But above all there is a single lift about ten-twenty metres from the stairs, so avoiding the stairs is easy and obvious.

I have seen few stairs in stations as well-designed as these.

A few more general observations.

Wide Stairs With A Double Rail In the Middle

This design of stairs is being increasingly seen in London and around Europe.

In Stairs And A Lift At Cannon Street Station, I show a similar installation.

But there are loads like this monstrosity at Bethnal Green station in Before Overground – Stairs Not Fit For Purpose.

How many stations could be improved by widening the staircase?

Probably quite a few, but many staircases are constrained within solid walls.


Transport for London generally use round and easy-to-grip handrails.

These are the best I’ve seen, which are on the Amsterdam Metro.

Some on British Rail-era stations are big and square and must be difficult for those with small or frail hands.

An Obvious Lift

At Dalston Junction, the lift is obvious as you approach the stairs.

But in some stations, the lifts are at the other end of the platform.

The Greenford Solution

These pictures show the solution at Greenford station.


  1. There is an up-escalator.
  2. A staircase,which is as wide as possible.
  3. There are three handrails with a low rail for those who prefer it.
  4. There is an inclined lift, which saves space.

I think we’ll see more step-free installations of this style.


I won’t comment on safety, as I don’t want to bring bad luck to the installations.


All those designing staircases and lift systems for stations, should be made to visit Dalston Junction and Greenford stations in the Peak.

April 7, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Many Stations Could Use This Step-Free Layout?

Greenford station has London Underground’s only inclined lift.

The inclined lift is installed with an escalator on the other side and double-width stairs with a central rail in between.

Searching the Internet, there doesn’t seem to have been any problems, since it was switched on in 2015.

The number of passengers using the station’s two Central Line and one National Rail platforms is around five million per year, which would appear fairly typical for many outer London tube stations.

So how many stations could use a layout like this?

These issues will need to be considered.


Greenford station is not a great height difference and you wouldn’t want to have too much of a difference, as the stairs will get a heavy use.

Platform Layout

Greenford station has an island platform, which means that one set of inclinced/lift/escalator can serve all platforms.

Installation Width

The picture shows that the combined installation is quite wide, so this type of step-free access could be difficult to install.

Application To A Two-Escalator/Stairs System

There are lots of stations in the outer reaches of the Underground, which need step-free-access, where there are two escalators and a set of stairs.

Some might think, that an inclined lift could be put in the space and it would certainly the engineering wouldn’t be difficult.

But the problem would be long-term maintenance, where escalators are given a full strip-down every ten years or so and closed for several months.

The station would be left with just one working escalator and the inclined lift.

I would therefore feel that installing an inclined lift instead of the stairs is not a feasible proposition, unless the station has two entrances.

Application To A Three-Escalator System

Most deep-level stations on the London Underground have banks of three escalators, so that if one breaks down or is being maintained, there is a full service.

Application To A Station Footbridge

There are lots of stations, that need step-free footbridges.

I can envisage a prefabricated system, where an inclined lift is one of the components.

The lift and its frame would be assembled in a factory and just lifted into place on prepared foundations. Stairs and if needed, an escalator could also be handled in the same way, before the bridge deck was lifted on top.

Too many step-free footbridges, seem to require a lot of bespoke construction on site.

The system could also be used where the entrance to a station was a single set of stairs to an island platform from an existing overbridge.

Bowes Park, Rose Grove and Mill Hill come to mind. This picture shows Mill Hill station in Lancashire.

There must be others, where the existing stairs could be replaced with a wide staircase and an inclined lift.


I think it is likely, that given the success of the Greenford installation, we will see  other inclined lifts on the UK’s railway network.

But places where they are used will have to be chosen with care and well-designed!



February 14, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Stations On The West Ruislip Branch Of The Central Line To Be Made Step-Free

Hanger Lane and Northolt stations are going to be made step-free.

I took these pictures on the 25th January 2018

Hanger Lane



No work has started!

These two stations are similar in design, as are most stations from between Perivale and Ruislip Gardens.

  • Each has a single island platform.
  • Steep stairs come down in the middle of the platform.
  • A single lift would make the stations step-free from ticket hall to platforms.
  • Hanger Lane would need an extra lift from street to ticket hall.

Only Greenford, which has a junction with the Greenford Branch and is elevated, is built to different design.

Greenford Station’s Inclined Lift

At Greenford, an inclined lift has been used, as I wrote in The Inclined Lift In An Improved Greenford Station.

This picture was taken at Greenford station.

Could this be fitted alongside a rebuilt staircase on these Central Line stations?

  • The lift and stairs would be sized to fit across the platform.
  • A bigger hole in the ticket hall would be needed.
  • Access under the stairs would not be needed for passengers.
  • An inclined lift installation might be more popular with the Heritage Lobby.

It could even be possible to keep the station open during the rebuilding work.

This article on Transport For All is entitled London’s First Incline Lift. This is a paragraph.

Research by Ealing Council shows that installing incline lifts are a cost effective solution for making inaccessible stations step-free. TfL initially estimated a cost of £10m to install a traditional vertical lift at Greenford station. The incline lift makes a huge saving as it only costs £2.2m with a proposed £200,000 contribution from Ealing Council.

That is a 78% cost saving.

I can’t find any complaints on the Internet about the installation at Greenford.

What Are Transport for London’s Plans?

Transport for London have stated that their aim is to eventually have all Underground stations with full step-free access.

I have this feeling that Hanger Lane and Northolt were added to the list for these reasons.

  • The success of the inclined lift at Greenford station.
  • Studies have shown that inclined lifts could be used at these stations.
  • The affordability of inclined lifts.
  • Local residents have used Greenford’s lift and want one!
  • Ruislip Gardens, South Ruislip and Perivale stations could be made step-free in the same way.

Transport for London could be going for a traditional solution! But I doubt it!


January 25, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Stations For Inclined Lifts

After the superb installation at Greenford, I wonder if stations like these will get inclined lifts in their third space.

It would probably be dependent on the layout of the stations, but we’ll certainly see more.

Highbury and Islington station might be able to have a central inclined lift, but then to get to the platforms, there are further difficult stairs. If ever a station was built that would be difficult to provide step-free access, it is this one.

October 28, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Could We See Some Packaged Inclined Lift Applications?

I liked the inclined lift at Greenford, that I saw yesterday.

There are many stations in the UK and across the wider world, where access to the trains is down a long staircase from a road or bridge that crosses the platforms at a right angle.

Disabled-Friendly Steps At Mill Hill

So could a simple inclined lift be fitted alongside these stairs, at Mill Hill station in Blackburn?

I think that you could build a lift in its own glass module in a factory, make an appropriate hole in the bridge parapet and lift the inclined lift into position on the platform.

There could be several advantages.

  1. The preparation work at the station would not be major construction.
  2. It would surely be more affordable for stations with low usage for passengers, who need full step-free access. Mill Hill might be an example., as the station isn’t used by more than 70,000 passengers in total in a year.
  3. If say the station were to be rebuilt, the lift could be saved and used elsewhere.
  4. The installation of the lift could be a very fast process, perhaps done over a weekend.
  5. The package could include a staircase, which could be covered if desired.

I think that when architects see the stairs/escalator/inclined lift combination at Greenford station, they’ll get some very imaginative ideas.


October 23, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Going Back To My Childhood

Well, not really! But this afternoon, I did go back to the northern reaches of the Piccadilly line. The aim was to look at the escalator layout of the stations to see how difficult they would be to upgrade to step-free access, possibly using inclined lifts, as I outlined here.

I joined the line at Manor House station, but didn’t go all the way to Cockfosters, as the last two stations, don’t have escalators. Starting from the end of the line, here’s what I found.

Cockfosters – This station could probably be made step-free by fitting conventional lifts into the structure to access the tunnel under Cockfosters Road. Once in the tunnel, the station is then step-free to the platforms.

Oakwood – Looking at the ends of the various Underground lines, the end station is more often than not step-free.  But in the case of the northern end of the Piccadilly line, Oakwood was made step-free rather than Cockfosters.

Southgate – When I mused about fitting an inclined lift at this station in this post, I said it would be a challenging design problem. Southgate is one of the architectural jewels of the line and this picture shows why.


Escalators and Uplighters At Southgate Station

It is a gem of 1930s design and architecture with all that bronze, even if the yellow paint on the stairs in the middle for health and safety reasons,  is out of place. The station may not have the original wooden escalators, but someone had the sense to fit modern treads in the old casing, rather than a complete modern escalator.

Escalator At Southgate Station

Escalator At Southgate Station

This station could take an inclined lift in the central space, but it would have to be done with enormous sympathy using similar materials to the original Charles Holden design.

There would be two other problems with an inclined lift.

As the station is now, it could easily be converted into an Underground station of several decades ago for making a film, as it was for The End of The Affair. I remember it was strange seeing a film, that had been shot in a place I knew so well.

The heritage lobby would have a field day trying to stop the installation. After all the station has won awards for its restoration over the last few years and it is a Grade II* Listed Building.

But all that adds to making it the sort of challenge, that a good designer would relish.

Arnos Grove – This is a surface station and could be made step-free with the addition of lifts in the same manner used on several stations on the Undergound and Overground network.

Bounds Green – Like Southgate, this station is a two escalator and one staircase station, where the staircase could be replaced with an inclined lift. But it doesn’t have the heritage problems of Southgate, as the station has modern escalators.

Wood Green – This is a three escalator station and step-free access would probably have to be installed, by digging a traditional lift shaft. I say shaft, as I suspect because the running tunnels are fairly wide apart, there is probably somewhere to slot in a shaft that served both platforms by descending into the platform level lobby or a cross tunnel, as was done at Tottenham Hale station.

Turnpike Lane – The problems here are similar to Wood Green, as it is another three escalator station, where a traditional lift would have to be sunk from the booking office to the platform levels.  But another problem is that some form of lift would be needed to descend to the booking office level, which is below ground.

Manor House – This is very similar in layout to Turnpike Lane, but it would need lifts at seven exits to the surface to be fully step-free.

Finsbury Park – This is almost a low-level station with steps up to a pedestrian tunnel.  Conventional lifts could probably be added without too much difficulty. There is a lot of development going on at this station and it will be interesting to see if the step-free access improves.  The last time I visited access wasn’t good.

I think that the difficulty of making some of these stations completely step-free, shows how much our attitudes to those with difficulties getting about has changed since the stations were built in the 1930s. Charles Holden’s stations either had escalators or a short flight of steps, like Cockfosters or Arnos Grove. Compare the equipment at these stations with those on the Jubilee line extension, where all stations are fully step-free. But to be fair to Charles Holden, the Victoria line built thirty years after the Piccadilly line even now has only three step-free stations, Tottenham Hale, Green Park and Brixton stations. The Victoria line station, that I use the most; Highbury and Islington is a maze of tunnels and little short of a complete rebuild will improve matters.

Having looked at Southgate and Bounds Green, I think that an inclined lift could be a excellent idea at these two stations. You wouldn’t rip out the central escalator at Wood Green, Turnpike Lane and Manor House, as it was put in because the number of passengers needed it. But at least these three stations have larger platform tunnels, which must help the installation of a conventional lift.

However, putting in an inclined lift would not only make it easier for those in wheelchairs, with babies in buggies or heavy cases, but it would add to the station’s capacity.  One point about an inclined lift, is parties where some need the lift and others don’t, can effectively travel up and down together at the same time, with those who can walk on the adjoining escalator.  So the size of an inclined lift, may actually be smaller for the same capacity. It would probably also go up and down almost continuously.

January 21, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment