The Anonymous Widower

London Underground Upgrades To Northern Line and Bank Station Gather Pace

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on New Civil Engineer.

It all sounds like good progress and these are some points from the article.

Note that no date is given for the Bank station blockade to connect the new tunnels or completion of the works.

Under Future Station Upgrade And Expansion, in the Wikipedia entry for the station, this is said.

Before the project can be completed, the Northern line Bank branch will have to close for several months to allow the existing line to be connected to the new running tunnels. As of October 2020, this closure is planned to occur in late 2021/early 2022.

As I suspect other works like those in the new passenger tunnels can go on unhindered by the track works, I would suspect that a few months after the new tracks are connected, the station upgrade will be substantially finished.

I certainly, think that the full upgrade could open complete with the new entrance on Cannon Street sometime in 2022 or if not early in 2023.

It has been reported that the oversite development on the new Cannon Street entrance will be done after the station is complete.

March 10, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nine Elms Underground Station – 14th February 2021

Nine Elms Underground station, is now recognisable as a station.

Note.

  1. It certainly looks like an Autumn opening is not impossible.
  2. I couldn’t past the station to have a look at Arch 42, which I wrote about in Nine Elms Gateways By Projects Office.

I walked to the station from Vauxhall station this morning, through a forest of new skyscrapers.

February 14, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , | 1 Comment

Nine Elms Gateways By Projects Office

I first heard of this project in September last year, in this article on Ian Visits, which is entitled Nine Elms Railway Arch To Be Opened As Pedestrian Tunnel.

Ian introduces the problem like this.

A blocked off railway arch under the tracks in Nine Elms could be opened up as a new pedestrian tunnel. What is officially plain Arch 42 would create a walking link that starts just outside the back of the future Nine Elms station on the Northern line and the cluster of new blocks of flats and the US Embassy on the north side of the mainline railway.

I would appear to be a shorter walking route.

This Google Map shows the area.

Note.

  1. The substantial box-like structure with all the buttresses in the South-East corner of the map is the future Nine Elms station.
  2. Arch 42 is one of the arches, that pass under the railway crossing the North West corner of the map.

It would appear that the proposal to turn the arch into a tunnel could be a good idea.

This article on SWLondoner is entitled Nine Elms Viaduct To Get “Tunnel Vision” Makeover and gives a few details of the project.

This page on the Projects Office web site shows a visualisation of the tunnel.

Have a look and see what you think!

Note.

  1. In the visualisation, there is a signal gantry across the track, which is also shown in the map above.
  2. What will be the building material? Brick, steel or even recycled plastic?

I used to know a free-style bricklayer, who would have created an interesting portal.

I like the design and can’t wait to see it in reality!

You certainly won’t miss it, if you’re looking for it to get to the US Embassy or another building on the other side of the tracks.

Conclusion

Could Projects Office have come up with a distinctive way of making tunnels under railways and roads more welcoming?

February 13, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Northern Line Extension ‘On Track’ For 2021 Opening

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Transport Network.

I’m looking forward to using the line in the Autumn.

This map from cartometro.com, shows the track layout of the extension.

 

Note.

  1. The extension starts from the existing Kennington Loop at Kenning station.
  2. There is an intermediate station at Nine Elms.
  3. As with many two-platform stations, there is a cross-over in the approach. It is shown in a picture in the article.

Hopefully, the extension will eventually be extended to Clapham Junction.

Step-Free Interchange At Kennington Station

I have been worried about this and from the comment of others like Melvyn, I am not alone.

This map from cartometro.com, shows the track layout at Kennington station.

Note.

  1. Elephant and Castle station is at the North-East corner of the map and is on the Bank branch of the Northern Line.
  2. The pair of tracks going North-West are the Charing Cross branch of the Northern Line.
  3. The pair of tracks going South-West are the Morden branch of the Northern Line.
  4. Trains going South  to Morden can use either Platform 2 or 4, depending, whether they have come Charing Cross or Bank.
  5. Trains going North  from Morden can use either Platform 1 or 3, depending, whether they are going to Charing Cross or Bank.
  6. The Kennington Loop allows trains from Charing Cross that arrive in Platform 2 to go direct to Platform 1 to return to the North.
  7. There appears to be a revering siding, which can also reverse trains from either Platform 2 or 4 and send them North from Platform 1 or 3.
  8. Chords South of the platforms allow trains to and from Charing Cross to access the tracks to Morder and the reversing siding.
  9. The Battersea Power Station branch, is shown in dotted lines and connects to the Kennington Loop.

I took these pictures at Kennington station today.

Note.

The platforms are in two pairs, which are connected by walk-through passages, with Platforms 2 and 4  for Southbound trains and Platforms 1 and 3 for Northbound trains.

  1. Each platform has a proper clock.
  2. The only access to the pair of platforms is by steep long stairs.
  3. The stairs need to be rebuilt with proper handrails on both sides.
  4. The last picture shows the handrails at Moorgate station.

Currently, the system allows journeys between the North and Morden, either directly or with a walk-across change at Kennington station.

  • Going South to Morden, if you get a train, that reverses at Kennington, you would wait for a train to turn up on either Platform 2 or 4, that is going the whole way.
  • Going North from Morden, if you get a train going to the wrong Northern destination, you would get off at Kennington and wait for a train to turn up on either Platform 1 or 3, that is going to the destination you desire.

What is needed on all platforms, is more comprehensive information displays.

  • Displays on Platforms 2 and 4, would show details of all Southbound trains. whether they terminated at Kennington or went to Morden, or in future went to Battersea Power Station station.
  • Displays on Platforms 1 and 3, would show details of all Northbound trains.

Displays would indicate destination and time as now, but with the addition of platform, where you catch the train.

If there is one problem it is taking a train between Battersea Power Station and Morden stations.

This public domain drawing from the Internet shows the station, after the Kennington Loop had been built in the 1920s and 1930s.

Note.

  1. We are looking from the North.
  2. The Kennington Loop at the far end of the station.
  3. The four platforms of the station numbered 2, 4, 3 and 1 from left to right.
  4. The stairs between the two pairs of platforms, leading to overbridges.
  5. The lift tower and a spiral staircase leading to and from the surface.

I can now sum up the step-free status of the station.

  • Passengers entering or leaving the station, must walk up or down a staircase like that shown in the first picture.
  • Passengers needing to change to another train going in the same direction, just walk across to the other platform in the pair.
  • Passengers needing to change to another train going in the opposite direction, as they would going between Battersea Power Station and Morden stations, will need to climb one set of stairs and descend another.

It does appear that in an ideal world lifts will need to be added.

Thoughts On Future Step-Free Access At Kennington Station

In the future, it is planned that the Northern Line will be split into two lines.

  • Battersea Power Station and Edgware
  • Modern and High Barnet

Will this increase the number of passengers, who need to do the opposite direction change, as there will just be more trains running on all branches?

Alternative Step-Free Access

But, there may be another way to go between Battersea Power Station and Morden stations.

  • Take a train from Battersea Power Station to Waterloo.
  • Walk across the platform at Waterloo to the Southbound platform.
  • Take a train from Waterloo back to Kennington.
  • Walk across from Platform 2 at Kennington to Platform 4.
  • Take the first train from Platform 4 to Morden.

The reverse journey between Morden and Battersea Power Station stations would be.

  • Take a train from Morden to Kennington.
  • Walk across from Platform 3 at Kennington to Platform 1
  • Take a train from Platform 1 to Waterloo.
  • Walk across the platform at Waterloo to the Southbound platform.
  • Take the first train from Waterloo to Battersea Power Station.

Note,

  1. Both routes have two changes; one at Kennington and one at Waterloo,
  2. All changes are step-free.
  3. All changes are very simple

It should also be noted that Battersea Power Station, Nine Elms and Waterloo are all or will be fully step-free stations.

The two routes I have outlined have one big advantage. They already exist and the only costs would be training of staff and indicating the routes to passengers.

January 6, 2021 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Looking For Nine Elms Underground Station

I took a walk from near to Vauxhall station through the New Covent Garden Market, looking for the new Nine Elms Underground station on the Northern Line Extension.

As you can see, it Nine Elms is becoming a forest of glass towers. This Google Map shows where I walked.

Northern Line Extension

Northern Line Extension

The Wilcox Road bus stop where the 196 bus dropped me, is to the right, by the supermarket car park that is being used as the site of Nine Elms station.

You can see the shadow of Battersea Power station at the top left.

August 2, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Will The Northern Line Extension Go All The Way?

There has been masses of reports about the Northern Line Extension in the special rail media and on the BBC and in other publications, like Time Out and the Standard.

Despite the long term aim of taking the extension to Clapham Junction, mentioned in the Wikipedia entry for the project.

Provision will be made for a possible future extension to Clapham Junction railway station by notifying the London Borough of Wandsworth of a reserved course underBattersea Park and subsequent streets

There has been no discussion about the extra station.

There has also been no statements from the consortium building the line about how they will actually construct the line.

As it is not the longest of tunnels, I suspect to save money, at the expense of possibly some extra time, they will use just one tunnel boring machine (TBM). It won’t be one of the ten-million-pounds-a-time  beasts used for Crossrail, as Underground tunnels are generally much smaller in diameter. Although, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the tunnels made slightly larger than normal for reasons of safety and perhaps to re-use a refurbished TBM from another project.

One thing that London Underground doesn’t like is lines that end deep in the ends of tunnels. For reasons of cost in the 1960s, the Victoria line is like this at both ends and according to Wikipedia, there have been proposals for creating a large reversing loop at Brixton to both reach Herne Hill and increase capacity.

Reversing loops also eliminate any possibility of a Moorgate disaster, which has still not been satisfacorily explained. But operationally they remove the need for trains to crawl into the end station for safety reasons, and reduce the time it takes to turn trains, thus increasing the frequency on the line.

Reversing loops with stations are not unknown in the UK. Terminal 4 at Heathrow is served by the Piccadilly Line in this way and the Merseyrail Loop Line, is a larger example, that reverses and provides several stations for the Wirral Line. It could also be argued that Bank station on the Docklands Light Railway is two platforms on a reversing loop.

So could a similar solution be used at Battersea to turn the trains? Look at this map of the area.

Around Battersea

Battersea Power Station and Battersea Park are obvious, but notice the Underground roundel marking Kennington station in the top-right corner and the British Rail symbol marking Clapham Junction station in the bottom-left.

The extension joins the current Northern line at Kennington and the Battersea station is proposed to be somewhere near the power station.

At present, Charing Cross branch trains reversing at Kennington, can go round the Kennington Loop. Wikipedia says this about the loop.

A loop tunnel south of the station enables southbound Charing Cross branch trains to be terminated at Kennington, leave the station in a southward direction and, traversing the loop, enter the northbound Charing Cross branch platform.

So instead of building two tunnels from Kennington to Battersea, with all the cost of two TBMs or the hassle of turning a single one round, I do wonder, if a cheaper and easier way of building the tunnels, would be to start in the Kennington Loop with a single TBM, tunnel via Nine Elms to Battersea and then create a wide reversing loop before returning to Battersea to dig the second tunnel back to the other side of the Kennington Loop.

One of the consequences of good project management is often that what the engineers build in the end is quite different, but better, more affordable and earlier to what the politicians said they wanted. For this reason alone, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Northern Line Extension is just a single tunnel, dug by a single refurbished TBM.

The cost savings are probably small change in a one-billion pound project, but the time spent inserting and removing a second machine, probably comes off the overall project time.

It then doesn’t take a great leap of the imagination to see that this construction/reversing loop could be extended so that it passes under Clapham Junction station.

There are other advantages too.

Operations, Safety and Reliability

I’ve mentioned the operational advantages of the reversing loop in quicker turn back of the trains and possible safety advantages, but as the extension is going to be a continuation of the Charing Cross branch of the Northern line and an extension of the Kennington Loop, there could be no complicated track work at Kennington. This will mean that the branch used through Central London, will determine the ultimate destination of the train. But this would allow London Underground to split the two lines and probably arrange dedicated platforms for the two northern branches at the operational nightmare that is Camden Town.

The reliability of two continuous lines would probably be a lot higher, than one that was constantly splitting and joining back again.

But whatever happens to the rest of the line, if the extension was a continuous reversing loop with no points or sidings, it could be built faster and would probably cost less, have a higher capacity and probably be more reliable.

The only problem would be if a train were to break down in the loop. But what happens on the Heathrow loop on the Piccadilly line?

Battersea and Nine Elms Stations

Digging the extension as a loop, also means that the two stations at Battersea and Nine Elms, become classic below ground stations of the Underground, like say Southgate and Manor House of the 1930s, and the modern Canary Wharf, where escalators and lifts descend to a wide lobby between the two lines.

Costs could even mean that they were identical below the surface, although architects would probably exercise some flare on the surface.

I also wonder if stations could be built with no escalators, but large efficient lifts, that were scheduled, so they went up and down in time with the trains.

Lift-only stations would be best as double-ended, with the lifts even coming up into car parks of the over-site development.

There is tremendous scope here for a good architect to build passenger-friendly and lower cost stations.

I’ve always believed that urban stations should have development on top, just like my local one at Dalston Junction. But how many stations anywhere make efficient use of expensive land?

Ventilation

A big problem with London Underground’s deep level lines, like the Northern, is keeping everything cool. All over London, you see structures like I photographed here. A continuous reversing loop must have advantages as all three stations would double as ventilation shafts, so there would be no need for any extra holes in the ground. If modern regulations mean that the tunnels have to be built with a walkway for evacuation, like those on the Docklands Light Railway, these larger diameter tunnels would probably help ventilation.

A secondary advantage of a well-ventilated reversing loop, is that it would be cool, so any trains on the loop could cool themselves down, just like many deep-level trains, do by basking on the surface in the suburbs.

Clapham Junction Station

In the future when the station at Clapham Junction is added, little or no tunnelling will be needed, as construction will probably involve sinking a shaft to link it to the current Clapham Junction rail station and creating a new platform or platforms alongside the reversing loop.

I would go for the single platform. In some ways then, this station would be like the Piccadilly Line station at Heathrow Terminal 4, which has a single platform on a one-way loop from Hatton Cross to Heathrow Central.

No surface buildings would be required and space would only be needed to sink the shaft during the construction phase.

Opening Clapham Junction station could give a problem in that some passengers will transfer off the trains from Basingstoke, Portsmouth, Southampton and other places to complete their journeys. Will the Northern Line cope?

On the other hand the new Clapham Junction station will link to Crossrail at Tottenham Court Road, so Clapham Junction would get a hopefully step-free link to Crossrail and on to Heathrow.

Platform Edge Doors

Regulations will probably mean that all the stations would have to be constructed with platform edge doors. A loop extension would probably have the minimum number of platform faces, thus subtracting another saving from the cost.

If I was designing the stations, all platform faces would be identical to save costs.

But if you went for lift-only stations, this could mean that a better design evolved, where the safety functions of the platform edge doors were achieved in better ways.

Train Stabling

A loop extension, if built in its simplest form, would not have any sidings for storing trains overnight or perhaps holding them when there was a problem on the Northern line.

But as the loop would of necessity be rather long between Battersea and Clapham Junction, the trains could be stabled or held in the loop. If staff needed to leave or join the trains and if the tunnel had a walkway, they’d just walk along to the nearest station.

Ease Of Construction

There has been a report in Global Rail News that the Northern Line Extension might be completed before Crossrail.

A loop extension leading off the Kennington Loop has implications for building the extension in a quick and affordable manner, so this might explain the optimism.

Consider the following.

1. No terminal station, platforms, junctions or sidings would need to be built.

2. As the main construction at Kennington only takes place on the Kennington Loop, trains on the Bank branch running to Morden will be unaffected. Trains on the Charing Cross branch would probably be suspended, unless some other way of turning them back could be found.

3. One TBM digs the whole tunnel in a continuous operation.

4. The project length is determined by the time to dig the tunnel, fit it out with track and signalling, connect it to the existing network and then give it an extensive testing, as once the TBM has passed, the construction of the platforms can be started in parallel with the rest of the project.

5. It would probably be easier to adjust the route of a loop tunnel to avoid other infrastructure and the proposed route of Crossrail 2. Victorian engineers didn’t have machines of the accuracy of today’s modern TBMs.

6. Crossrail needed a lot of shafts to insert and extract the TBMs and other equipment and materials. I’m no expert, but surely material could be brought in by service trains on the Morden branch of the Northern line, to avoid digging too many shafts.

Conclusion

I strongly believe the first phase of the Northern Line Extension will be built as a loop off the Kennington Loop and include all the tunnelling for the extension to Clapham Junction.

Clapham Junction station would not look like a terminus, as it would only be a single platform on a reversing loop.

So the second phase would solely be the fitting out of the station and connecting it to the rail station.

 

November 15, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Battersea Gets Its Tube

The extension of the Northern Line to Battersea has been given the go ahead.

Construction will begin in spring 2015 and it is hoped the line, which will be extended from Kennington to Battersea, will open by 2020.

Two new stations will open – Nine Elms to the east and one at the heart of the Battersea Power Station development.

The full cost is expected to be up to £1bn, which will be funded by developments in the area.

I think one of the most significant parts of the report is the last line of that extract.

According to Wikipedia, the original proposal was put together in May 2010, and I certainly saw an exhibition about the extension in December 2012,

I know it’s only a short extension, but to go from proposal to construction start in two years is some sort of record for London.

Surely, all big infrastructure projects should be started like this. And of course financed if possible in a local manner or by developers.

The one question about what is proposed, is when is it going to be extended to Clapham Junction.

I suspect that if they did this, it would be so successful, it would swamp the Northern Line and throw Battersea back to the 1960s, with respect to transport links.

This is the schematic of the route.

The Route

The Route

And this is what the area looks like in Google.

The Google View

The Google View

I couldn’t quite align the two maps, but you can just see the Kia Oval at the right in the Google view.

November 13, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment