Plans for the Hackney Downs – Hackney Central pedestrian link has been approved by Hackney Council, and full details can now be found online. According to TfL, the link will cost about £5m
The two stations were previously linked via a similar walking connection, although this was removed a long time ago.
Back in 2008, 700,000 people a year were estimated to use the stations to interchange between the West Anglia and North London lines, a figure that will only have increased with the success of the Overground. TfL estimated at the time that this figure would almost double were a physical link between the two stations provided. At the time they proposed a scheme that would see a relatively direct link between Hackney Downs’ platform 1 and Hackney Central’s platform 2 (the ticket hall side), but this was ultimately scuppered by the need to remove several large trees and, more crucially, the fact that it would require various signals equipment to be moved by Network Rail.
The current plan, which was approved at the end of last year, thus takes a slightly more circuitous route, linking platform 1 at Hackney Downs with platform 1 at Hackney Central.
Despite the longer distance, this still knocks a considerable amount of time off of interchanging at the site. Currently this involves exiting Hackney Downs and walking down Dalston Lane and Amhurst Road before entering Hackney Central (or vice versa), a walk of approximately ten minutes (or more if the lure of the Pembury Tavern on the corner of Amhurst Road cannot be resisted). By contrast, the new link will cut that journey time considerably, and will also have the benefit of being “barrier side” at both stations.
The link (following from Downs to Central) will connect at the far end of platform 1 and run at high level alongside the current viaduct over the West Anglia lines. It’ll then turn and connect to stairs and a lift tower that mirror, in style, those currently found at Hackney Central. These will then drop down to a ramp which will run parallel to the NLL tracks before connecting to platform 1 at Hackney Central.
The link will be covered and inside it will be 2.5m metres wide and high, with cameras, monitors and help points along its length, and LED lighting. Where possible (so largely at the Hackney Central end) it will have mesh sides. All this is intended to prevent it from becoming too oppressive a space, given its length.
In terms of station management (as it is worth remembering that both stations are within different franchises) it will fall within the remit of Hackney Central (i.e. TfL), and be open as long as the station is manned.
According to the planning documents, construction is likely to begin in 2014 with completion by July that year. Overall it’s a positive scheme, and one that will bring clear benefits. It’s location will make any future platform extension works at Hackney Central potentially trickier to manage, but the station is already long enough to take six car trains and there’d be far larger issues to be addressed elsewhere on the NLL before trains longer than that length became a possibility.
Thanks to MD for the spot