Banking on an upgrade

Thursday 13th January 2022

This Saturday sees the closure of London Underground Northern Line’s city branch between Moorgate and Kennington for the next four months**.

This will allow the £655 million ‘Bank Station Capacity Upgrade Programme’ to enter its final stages. Specifically it will allow for a new southbound platform and 570 metre tunnel, which have been constructed over the last five years, to be connected into the network enabling the two existing narrow platforms for both north and southbound trains to be knocked through into one larger platform for northbound trains. It’s an arrangement successfully deployed in previous years at Euston, Angel and London Bridge stations.

During the closure London Underground has arranged for a more frequent service to operate on the Northern Line’s Charing Cross branch as well as contracting Tower Transit to operate a replacement bus route numbered 733 between Moorgate and Oval via Bank, Monument, London Bridge, Borough, Elephant and Castle and Kennington stations.

There’s a welter of information on TfL’s website offering advice of what alternative routes to take using both National Rail, other Underground lines and bus routes to ensure route 733 isn’t overwhelmed. This includes maps with a spiders web of lines in all sorts of colours including broken lines indicating both the Northern Line’s closure and alternative National Rail lines for passengrs travelling both northbound and southbound.

The map showing alternative bus routes (below) confirms just how appalling TfL’s cartographic skills have deteriorated since they unwisely decided to abandon the production of a network wide (or indeed any kind of) bus map six years ago. But I won’t comment further as earlier this week the ever astute Diamond Geezer has already done a superb demolition job on the maps in his daily blog.

Although just one comment is you’ll notice all the maps above show the closed section of the Northern Line albeit in a dashed format. Lee Render who designs communications for among others Northern Rail has been busy designing alternative presentations for the closure including one below which makes it more obvious the line has closed – as it’s disappeared between Moorgate and Kennington from the map.

Anyway, enough about maps, what else is happening at Bank in the capacity upgrade project to improve the station’s capacity by 40 percent?

Together with the inter-linked Monument station the dual complex ranked eighth in London Underground’s busiest stations pre-pandemic league table. In 2019 110,000 passengers used the station during the morning peak period alone. Forty percent of these changed trains between one of the five Underground lines or Docklands Light Railway which serve the stations using three ticket halls, six lifts, 10 platforms, 15 escalators and two 300-foot moving walkways.

Image courtesy of stations.aeracode.org

It all makes for a subterranean rabbit warren of passageways, staircases, exits and entrances all dotted around the road junction at ground level and in surrounding streets.

You can spend many a happy hour wandering around Bank and Monument’s subterranean complex and never see the same passageway twice.

Work started on the Bank Station Capacity Upgrade Programme back in 2016 and is now due to be completed towards the end of this year with the opening of a new step-free entrance and ticket hall on Cannon Street along with a new escalator link between the Central Line and DLR.

The new entrance and ticket hall in Cannon Street is due to open later this year but it still looks like much work is needed from the outside.

Much has already been achieved including a new station entrance on Walbrook (at the Bloomberg building) which opened in November 2018.

This added two lifts and four escalators along with its own ticket hall and provides easier access to the Waterloo & City Line.

Other new connections between lines include the opening this year of three new escalators providing a new direct interchange between the Northern Line and DLR platforms as well as a new lift shaft providing step-free access. There’ll also be two new 94 metre long moving walkways as part of the connection between the Northern and Central line platforms.

At the rear of the new Bank station entrance on King William Street.

It seems incredible all this work is being achieved with the station continuing to function and just this four month closure to connect the new platform and tunnel. A magnificent achievement by a company called Dragados awarded the construction contract along with Wilkinson Eyre as architect and design contractors and Robert Bird Group as civil and structural engineers. They’re very clever people and although the project has run over budget (by £55 million) and is around a year late some of which was down to work stopping during 2020’s initial first lockdown, it’s an incredible feat of engineering.

When the new Cannon Street entrance opens later this year, it’ll highlight just how close Bank station is not only to neighbouring Monument, but also to Cannon Street station itself, the next station along on the Circle and District lines from Monument.

In fact if you stand outside the new entrance to Bank, you can easily see both Monument and Cannon Street stations.

Mansion House station is also close by making Cannon Street with four Underground station entrances within a distance of just 560 yards something of a record for closely located station entrances in the same street.

And it’s going to be a huge improvement when finished.

You can Bank on that.

Roger French

** By a quirk of the scheduling of weekend engineering works the City branch of the Northern Line is actually closed between Euston and Stockwell on Saturday (as well as between Battersea Power Station and Charing Cross on the Charing Cross branch).

Blogging timetable: 06:00 TThSSu.

Next blog, Saturday 15th January: Are Omicron bus and rail cuts a proxy for ‘managed decline’?

2 thoughts on “Banking on an upgrade

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  1. Very interesting to see how work att Bank has developed since Q2 of 2014 when I spent 3 months working right by there in Walbrook. Hotelled during the week near Monument, but passed through Bank often whilst making local tube journeys.

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