Tuesday 21st September 2021
The last time a new station opened on the London Underground was 2008; the year the Piccadilly Line reached Heathrow’s Terminal 5 and Wood Lane opened on the Hammersmith & City Line. Yesterday saw much celebration and excitement as the Northern Line’s Charing Cross branch trains got to run beyond Kennington along the newly constructed tunnels to Nine Elms to the new terminus at Battersea Power Station.
I popped along yesterday afternoon for a look around and take a few photographs as a personal memento which led to the following ten random thoughts……
1. There’s an amazing number of people interested in visiting and exploring new Underground stations on opening day. It was almost peak time travelling in mid afternoon.
And not just transport enthusiasts. Families, businessmen, businesswomen and retired folk mingled with rucksack wearers and camera bag wielders taking commemorative photos even after the ‘must ride the first train at 05:28 at all costs’ brigade and the dignitaries marking the opening at 08:00 had long gone.
People from all walks of life and all ages were proudly having their photo taken in front of one of the new signs.
It really was encouraging to see.
2. Brand new 21st century Underground stations are built to a whole new scale than those in the last century. Thank goodness.
The 1990s Jubilee Line extension put the 1960s cramped Victoria Line to shame and now the newly opened Northern Line extension has surpassed everything that’s come before with its cavernous well designed spaces at both stations.
3. Accessibility is now built in as a given with level boarding and a plentiful supply of lifts.
4. Surprisingly few displays of commercial advertising are incorporated into the stations even alongside the gleaming vast escalators. The two banks of double escalators between the platforms and ticket hall at Battersea Power Station are refreshingly completely devoid of panels making for a much cleaner and less “shouty” appearance.
There’s just twelve panels on one side of the escalators to and from street level.
At Nine Elms, there are panels either side of the escalators but thankfully not to the new electronic – keep changing display – type of shouty visual pollution.
5. The prominent display as you descend the escalator at Nine Elms hasn’t been sold to an advertiser yet, unless Global have strategically kept it for themselves for the opening.
6. TfL’s new ticket vending machines look very smart with eye level screens and are much easier to use than the old style.
7. Ticket halls and station entrances are wonderfully spacious and clutter free at both Nine Elms…
… and Battersea Power Station.
8. Retail opportunities at Battersea haven’t been taken yet but the aim is to encourage local ‘artisan’ type shops which will be nice to see in an Underground station if it can be done.
9. It’s nice to see through trains back on the branch to Mill Hill East.
10. The number of flats already built, currently being built and yet to be built in the Nine Elms and Battersea Power Station area is simply phenomenal.
It’s just a shame so few will be affordable for those who really need a home and for whom the Tube extension would be a wonderful bonus.
A final thought: the impressive new infrastructure now open on the Northern Line certainly bodes well for Crossrail when it opens in around six months time.
All being well.