A power for good station design at Battersea

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.

Monday afternoon: Battersea Power Station

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.

Waiting for the station’s first ever 05:15 opening (photo courtesy John Nicholas)

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.

Nine Elms is almost Wanstead like in layout, but with so much more space.

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.

Roger French

13 thoughts on “A power for good station design at Battersea

Add yours

  1. The north south divide…..

    So we now have about 30 stns south and 242 north…. Still some way to go to give those living south of the river anything like the low level of fares, high levels of service, stations staffed right up until the last train and direct services to central London etc etc etc enjoyed by those in the north…

    ..and not much chance of any spades in the ground anytime soon on a South London project which would be of far more benefit to far more workers and commuters etc genuinely reliant on public transport than this, the BAKERLOO extension…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. National Express have made a takover bid for Stagecoach

    Under the terms of the proposed bid National Express would 0wn 75% of Stagecoach


  3. Why is the Northern Line “network” map (your penultimate photo) printed with North at the bottom (sorry, foot)? I had to stand on my head to view it.


    1. I guess because it a map at Battersea power station station telling people where they are travelling to and since the journey starts at Battersea and most likely ends in central or north London they want that journey to be reading downwards as it is normal human intuition to read downwards


  4. This extension does though further complicate an already complex line and as far as I know the bottle neck at Camden Town still remains


  5. Yes, but I think it has simplified things at Kennington (thus diminishing the need for synchronicity) as the basic service patterns of Battersea via West End and Morden via Bank do not conflict.


  6. I believe the long-term plan is to separate the northern branches at Camden Town, but it’s the cross-platform passenger movements that can’t be safely managed at present . . . and without a huge re-build that will cost billions, it never will be managed safely.


  7. So …presumably Battersea to one of the northern termini via Charing X gets to keep “northern line”… but what would Morden to the other northern terminus via bank get called…?? The obvious “southern line” sounds too much like the south central operator doesn’t it, and just doesn’t feel as right as northern line…or maybe it’s just me.. has the long term plan got as far as name suggestions??


  8. There were plans to duel a part of ther Northerline just before WWII. The plans good partillly abandoned but they did dual a number of station tunnels with the idea of joinging them up after the war but that never happened, I am not sure if this happened at Camden town. I aam pretty sure it happebd at Goodge street


  9. That’s interesting about Camden Town . . . I knew about the Clapham shelters, but not the others.
    I wonder if the rebuilding of the surface buildings at Camden Town would have enabled the use of the “shelter” tunnels, or whether the deep tunnels were not intended for use as “real” tube tunnels??


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