Operationally the Northern Line is probably the most interesting tube line. As the line’s signal upgrade programme comes to an official end, we look at the recent Northern Line timetable improvements and how frequency seems to be slowly but steadily improving.

We recently looked at the Subsurface Railway (SSR) timetable commencing in December 2014 which contained some significant improvements off-peak. These improvements may not have been publicised but if one knew there were to be an off-peak SSR timetable upgrade one could guess at what they might be. In a sense then they did not come as a surprise.

In contrast the December 2014 Northern Line improvements were quite widely known about, expected and they applied to both peak and off-peak periods. The peak period improvements were not what we had been led to believe they would be. Some off-peak improvement was expected but probably not to the extent that has actually happened. As we shall see, the Northern Line has truly joined the league of deep tube lines with an intensive frequent service, albeit one which is a bit patchy.

Asymmetric in the Peaks

The Northern Line is almost certainly the trickiest of the deep tube lines to timetable. It is not just the complexity of having two separate routes through central London, nor the famous complex junction at Camden Town. What also distinguishes it is the asymmetric nature of the peak period service which is mainly driven by a need to provide as intensive a service as possible from Morden to Bank in the morning and vice-versa in the evening. Whilst the recent introduction of ATO seems to have eliminated the need for some of these complexities there are still residual features remaining.

The peak period demand for trains between Morden and Bank leads to more trains running via Bank in the direction of peak flow than running via Charing Cross. It also leads to a slightly more intensive service in the peak flow direction between Morden and Kennington than in the contrapeak direction.

To help cater for the desire to run extra trains from Morden via Bank in the morning peak period, there used to be a strategy that sent all northbound trains via Bank in the morning peak period to High Barnet and all the ones via Charing Cross to Edgware. One could get away with this because traffic would be relatively sparse in the contrapeak direction in the morning. This increased capacity through Camden Town junction in a northbound direction in the morning peak period. What this meant was that, during this period in this direction, the junction was effectively no longer a junction. To cater for the lesser capacity in a southbound direction trains departed from High Barnet at a slightly slower rate than they arrived – presumably a couple got put away in the sidings there.

In the evening peak passengers are travelling in large numbers in all directions. This made providing as good a service in the evening peak as in the morning quite impossible as trains had to serve both northern branches in both directions.

In the latest working timetable we are told that:

The northbound service segregation in the morning peak has been reversed with Bank branch trains generally now operating to the Edgware branch and Charing Cross branch trains operating to High Barnet/Mill Hill East.

Quite why the segregation was reversed is hard to understand. A “heat map” shows passenger overcrowding is higher on the High Barnet branch than on the Edgware branch.

heat Map

Diagram, based on the originally intended December 2014 service, showing expected level of overcrowding

What is more interesting and curious though is an earlier statement in the working timetable introduction that:

The “tidal” peak service on the Morden branch (northbound in the morning peak; southbound in the evening peak) has been increased to provide 30 trains per hour for approximately 90 minutes.

Now interestingly enough in the evening peak period there is an identical frequency of service as in the morning of 30tph between Bank and Morden in the direction of flow. This suggests that nowadays, with the latest signalling, Camden Town Junction is not currently a limiting factor in providing the maximum service one can. Presumably we are now at a point where the limiting factor on the Northern Line is the number of trains available. If this is correct, then one must ask why it is worth bothering to send all northbound trains via Bank in the morning peak to Edgware. Why not alternate (with one or two trains off-pattern) between the branches?

High Barnet branch

High Barnet and Mill Hill East branches

A further complication for the Northern Line timetable relates to the High Barnet and Mill Hill East branches. Normally where branches exist the general strategy is to give them both the same level of service. Clearly this is not desirable on the one station Mill Hill East branch which is very lightly used. In any case the branch is currently single track so it is not possible to run more than about 5 trains per hour (tph) on the branch. This leads to a slight anomaly on the High Barnet Branch from East Finchley to High Barnet. The stations involved (High Barnet, Totteridge & Whetstone, Woodside Park and West Finchley) actually have a better (both more frequent and more regular) service in the off-peak, when the Mill Hill East branch is reduced to a shuttle, than they do in the peak hours. If more trains were available it would be possible to run all trains in the peak to High Barnet and have the Mill Hill East branch run as a shuttle in the peaks too.

A frequent Northern Line service

Until mid-2014 the level of service on the Northern Line was really not what you would expect from a tube line in central London. Even the Bakerloo and Waterloo & City could do better. In rough terms each central Northern Line section and northern branch could only manage around 20tph in the peak – a figure to bear in mind for later.

Things were improved dramatically by the full introduction of ATO (automatic train operation) on the line by June 2014. This on its own allowed the frequency in the central area to go up to 22tph without needing any extra trains.

Then in December 2014, with no apparent further changes, a better timetable still was introduced. In fact though there has been a lot going on since June. With the ATO signalling installed it was time to increase speeds on the Northern Line by means of replacing, reprofiling (rail grinding) and realigning track. What has been impressive is that all this work, a lot of which was expected to take place during weekend closures, has in fact been carried out in “engineering hours” – overnight when the trains aren’t running.

Expected New Service

The expected service from December 2014 as taken from this presentation

What was expected for December 2014 was a timetable where there was roughly 24tph on the two northern branches, 24tph on each of the central London routes and 32tph between Kennington and Morden.

What has actually happened in the peak period on the Northern Line is that the Charing Cross branch now runs at roughly 24tph in the peak and the Bank branch runs 26tph in one direction. 26tph on the Bank branch is up 4tph from just six months ago and may even be the most frequent service it has ever seen. To put it in context, this is better than the Piccadilly Line can manage and only 4tph short of what runs on the Jubilee Line. All the talk might be of the New Tube for London but it is the oldest tube for London that is currently delivering service improvements.

Approximate actual new Service  in Morning peak revised

Our best representation of the actual service introduced in December 2014

30tph on the Kennington – Morden section

Running ‘only’ 30tph between Morden and Kennington in the morning peak in the current timetable is a slight disappointment as 32tph was expected but it still is 3tph better than before. It would appear that the reason for this is a combination of lack of trains and a decision to prioritise improving the peak service on the Bank branch. This has a secondary benefit as far as the timetable writers are concerned. Every extra train on the Bank branch removes the need for a train to depart from Morden destined for the Charing Cross branch and every train removed from the Morden – Kennington section also removes a train from Morden via Charing Cross. Consequently the current timetable requires only 4tph to travel from Morden via Charing Cross rather than the previously envisaged 8tph. This reduces the need for critical pathing at Kennington Junction. The ultimate desire is to eliminate trains to and from Morden running via Charing Cross – this already happens off-peak but cannot currently be avoided in peak hours.

More trains needed

The timetable already requires 96 trains out of a total of 106 trains in service in peak hours. To get another train in service would probably require negotiation with Alstom who still maintain the trains under a pre-PPP contract. This is by no means impossible. One more train in service would still only require an availability of 91.5%. An extra two trains in service compared to today would require an availability of almost 92.5% – tough but not unrealistic in this day and age. The running time from Kennington to Morden is around 22 minutes and 21 minutes in the reverse direction so if 2 extra trains could be made available then two, or possibly three, extra trains via Charing Cross could be extended from Kennington to Morden should that be a desired objective.

As an alternative to finding extra trains one can run in service, one could push for a bit more speed. If London Underground could further reduce the travelling time between Morden and Kennington by just one minute in each direction then that would be a equivalent to an extra train. A thread on the District Dave’s website suggests that there could be further improvements in this area in future. Here, seconds and fractions of mph matter would matter, and luckily one advantage of ATO is that speed limits are not rounded down to the nearest 5km/h so once a section of track is reassessed it is quite possible that the speed limit will be slightly raised.

Stepping Back

A further change to the Northern Line timetable is the re-introduction of stepping back at Morden. Stepping back is when the driver does not leave on the same train they brought in but “steps back” and leaves it for another driver. They then take out a subsequent train. Strangely Morden is a three platform terminus yet the working timetable tells us that operators stepping back every four trains has been implemented. One would have expected this to be every third train or possibly every sixth train but it seems that it is more operationally convenient to actually use just two of the three platforms for terminating trains.

It would appear that stepping back is generally disliked on the Northern Line as it creates performance risk on such a complicated line. It was implemented a couple of timetables ago at Morden but then removed from the last one. Nevertheless it would appear that the Northern Line has reached the point where this is unavoidable in the peak hours. It may well be that one of the principal future motivations to completely separate the Northern Line into two distinct tube lines will be the ability to operate stepping back without fear of total chaos when things go wrong.

As good as it can get for the moment?

No doubt the ATO system will continue to be refined but the dramatic time reductions already achieved are unlikely to be improved on much more. Unless more available trains or speed can be coaxed of the existing fleet it is hard to see how the peak timetable can be improved until new trains arrive. Unfortunately these have not even been ordered yet. They are thus not expected to be delivered for a few years.

Northern Line off-peak

Where the Northern Line gets really impressive is the off-peak service. At the beginning of 2014 this was 15-16tph so roughly a train every four minutes on the Edgware and High Barnet branches. For each of those branches alternate trains would go to Morden via Bank or Kennington via Charing Cross.

off peak

Now the off-peak service is 20tph, seven days a week. This is roughly a 33% percent improvement in trains leading to a train every three minutes instead of every four minutes – a 25% reduction in average waiting time. What makes this even more impressive is this is roughly what a year ago was being run in the peak period. It is true that the Victoria Line and to some extent the Central Line run at a higher off-peak frequency in the inner zones, but to run 20tph out to Morden (zone 4) and Edgware and High Barnet (both zone 5) on a Sunday is quite remarkable.

From a passenger’s perspective the off-peak service can be viewed as two different distinct services that might as well be different tube lines. From an operational point of view this is not the case as trains arrive at High Barnet having been routed on one line through central London and return on the other one. It is just how the timetable has ended up. No doubt this situation at High Barnet could be avoided if there was any good reason to do so.

The future

TfL and London Underground have never really spelt out exactly what the long term timetable is for improvements to the Northern Line when it comes to new trains and rebuilt stations. However they have now said enough and quoted dates where necessary to make it possible to get a pretty good idea of how this will pan out for the future.

Between 2015 and 2018 we cannot expect to see any dramatic change to the Northern Line. Any limited improvement in service will be dependent on better rolling stock availability or reduced journey times. Priority of new rolling stock will be given to the Jubilee Line. These trains will superficially be clones of the existing trains with similar, if not the same, performance characteristics but will be more advanced below floor level. The new stock on both lines will be visually very similar as far as passengers are concerned though it will have 7 cars on the Jubilee Line and 6 on the Northern Line. The cabs will be appropriately configured to match existing cabs on the line they are going to.

The Northern Line Battesea Extension

Battersea Branch Frequencies

It may seem strange to talk about frequencies on the forthcoming Battersea Branch when construction work has not yet started but the project is due for completion by the end of 2019 so we expect trains to be running within five years from now. The projected initial service seems to be largely based on extending some or all Charing Cross branch trains currently terminating at Kennington. It is of course presumed that by then there will be sufficient new trains to run the service required.

The original expected number of Kennington terminators in the peaks was 16tph. This figure was arrived at because there would be 24tph on the Charing Cross branch but 8 of these would continue to Morden to provide an additional 8tph south of Kennington. In fact, as we have seen, the timetable currently implemented is more complex than the one anticipated and it would appear that only 4tph start from or continue to Morden. Based on the timetable currently running it could well be the case that a slightly better initial peak hour service of 20tph may be run on this new branch.

One can also speculate on the initial off-peak frequency to Battersea. Whatever may have been suggested in the past, it would not be surprising if London Underground kept things simple and just extended all off-peak Kennington terminators to Battersea. This would mean a frequency of 20tph – the same as in the peak.

2020 – a critical year for the Northern Line

2020 is going to be an important year for the Northern Line. In the spring we will see the full then partial closure of the Bank branch for 117 days whilst a new southbound platform is brought into use at Bank station. This closure will finish in August 2020. It is presumed that London Underground would not want to improve the service on the line, beyond what is run today, prior to then as this is a major closure and one would not want to build up traffic only to subsequently be unable to handle it.

Once trains are running once more after the full reopening of Bank station we now know that TfL plan to run at least 30tph (presumably on both central sections) because this press release states that:

By 2020, LU is planning to increase train frequencies on the line even further to at least 30 trains per hour by introducing new trains.

As usual the off peak frequency isn’t mentioned but if the peak frequency is 30tph then one could reasonably expect to see an off-peak frequency of 24tph by 2020, which does seem to be the current minimum standard for central London on lines where it is feasible to implement it.

To consider what will happen next we need to look at Camden Town.

Camden Town Junction

Camden Town

The Northern Line has two critical junctions – Kennington and Camden Town. The long term plan is for all trains from Morden to continue via Bank and all trains from Battersea (or using the Kennington Loop) to continue via Charing Cross. So effectively the Northern Line has only one critical junction to worry about – that at Camden Town.

Unfortunately that junction is really complicated as a famous diagram originally published in the Eagle Magazine shows. ATO on its own probably isn’t really enough to optimise this junction and the 30tph quoted and planned for 2020 probably represents the limit of throughput at this complex junction.

To get beyond 30tph through Camden Town probably requires some kind of centralised supervising software (generally known as Automatic Train Control – ATC) to optimise train speed on approach to junctions to ensure maximum throughput. The current signalling contract for the Northern Line did not include ATC which has yet to exist on this manufacturer’s product. The SSR resignalling will have to include it to cater for the complex multiple junctions such as Praed Street.

It should be noted, as regular readers are aware, that the LU preferred solution appears to be to completely separate the Northern Line into two independent tube lines. These lines could then potentially be run at 36tph without resorting to ATC. Because separating the branches will result in a lot of people changing trains at Camden Town station, this cannot take place before Camden Town station is rebuilt in 2024.

station upgrades

According to the latest published station upgrade plans Camden Town will not be upgraded until 2024

The fallback position as an alternative of separating the lines is to implement ATC (probably after it has been implemented successfully on the SSR) to try to get significantly more then 30tph through Camden Town Junction. In this scenario, as in splitting the line, it should be possible to maximise capacity on the Northern Line well before HS2 arrives at Euston in 2026 which would no doubt put additional demands on the line.

The Northern Line – our best hope?

The London Underground line upgrade is starting to separate into three very distinct parts. There is the Subsurface Railway which will have some peak hour benefits when the resignalling is completed but off-peak already offers a similar level of service to that planned. There are the lines that will be eventually served by New Tube for London but little improvement can be expected until we are well into the 2020s. That leaves the “traditional lines” of the Northern, Jubilee and Victoria Lines. A extra 2tph will be squeezed out of the Victoria Line in the peak period and an already frequent off-peak will improve slightly (27tph from 24tph). The Jubilee Line will, in the next few years, improve the peak service slightly from 30tph to 36tph and, like the Victoria Line, slightly improve the off-peak service to 27tph. It is however the Northern Line which gives cause for hope. Not only is there a plan to improve peak period frequency by around 50% for much of the line but because it actually runs in two sections through central London, the benefits are effectively doubled.

The future Northern Line upgrades may just be unexciting implementations of existing technology but, in railway planning terms, they are coming soon and they are significant. Whether they do any more than keep pace with homebuilding along the route is another matter. The Northern Line in the past probably has not been seen as major tube artery in the way that the Central, Piccadilly, Jubilee and Victoria Lines are but perhaps it should be. With passenger journeys already substantially more than 900,000 per day it won’t be long before a million daily passenger journeys are made on the Northern Line each weekday and that number is only going to rise.

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There are 273 comments on this article
  1. Walthamstow Writer says:

    A good article that has helped bring me up to date. I used the Northern on Sunday changing to it at Warren St. I heard a train just leaving the sb platform and inwardly groaned that it would be umpteen minutes until the next train. The next train was 1 minute away – I was amazed although I think trains were a bit bunched as there’d been a failure earlier in the afternoon. I can also vividly recall the days of working at Old Street and regularly facing 8-10 minute midday / afternoon waits for a train to Bank so I could get to 55 Broadway. Things have vastly improved since those days which is all to the good.

    I suspect the train fleet size is a real constraint even though relations with Alstom were vastly better than in previous years when I left LU. There’s probably not much more that can be done in the short term – has the train refurb programme finished on the Northern? I also wonder what is happening with Alstom in the context of new trains – they’re clearly in with a very good chance of winning the order but you’ll have a PFI train fleet mixed with a smaller subfleet of, I assume, LU owned trains. That’ll keep the contract managers and engineers busy. In the context of the next step change in service volume you need to add on things like siding and depot capacity as issues requiring a solution especially if the service is effectively split into two lines. Morden and Golders Green don’t have equal facilities so hopefully no silly ideas of removing line connections!

  2. Malcolm says:

    Good to see a new article, and one full of interesting facts (and predictions). And glad that we have been able to put appelations like “The Misery Line” behind us.

    I am reassured to read that the northern line future split is no longer considered a firm plan. You mention the need to wait for improvements at Camden Town before it would be possible. But the split would be a definite downgrading in the service offered (a walk through passageways at Camden Town, however new and glossy, followed by a several-minute wait for a train which may not have a seat, rather than just travelling direct on the second train from your departure station). So it’s good to learn that, subject to train-control improvements, the split may not, after all, be necessary.

  3. ChrisJ says:

    As I understand it, line speed has been raised from 70 to 80 km/h following the resignalling, but with further track upgrades to be finished by April LU is now looking at 100 km/h. While trains probably won’t always reach that between frequent stops, it will give the ATO a bit more headroom for making up time. If they can squeeze a couple of minutes out of the run times, that might give the extra fleet availability necessary to go for 32tph south of Kennington.

  4. Reynolds 953 says:

    If they do end up separating the Northern line into two independent lines, are they both likely to be still called the Northern line….?

  5. Anonymous says:

    No doubt the Bank branch will be renamed the ‘Bull & Bear’ Line (City Line might cause confusion with the Waterloo & City), although it does mean that you couldn’t get the Northern Line to South London.

  6. Anonymous says:

    It seems all the priority for relieving capacity is going into the Bank branch. However, with the Battersea extension and the interchange to Crossrail at TCR coming soon, won’t the Charing X branch be just as bad?

  7. Crispy says:

    If split, surely the names should be Northern line (to Battersea) and Southern line (to Morden)

  8. Anonymous says:

    What about the Highbat and Morware lines?

  9. Matthew says:

    I’m not sure how accurate that ‘heat man’ of crowding is, daily personal experience suggests that crowding is far worse on the service between Clapham South and Stockwell, than between Stockwell and Kennington as the diagram suggests.

  10. Anonymous says:

    @Matthew The crowding diagram supposedly shows how things will be once the upgrade is complete. Your experience compares with mine right now – the trains are already packed after Tooting Broadway and Clapham S is the last station before Stockwell that you can realistically squeeze on at in the morning.

  11. Greg Tingey says:

    What has been impressive is that all this work, a lot of which was expected to take place during weekend closures, has in fact been carried out in “engineering hours” – overnight when the trains aren’t running.
    And no-one, certainly not the London media/press seem to have noticed.
    Just for once, I think TfL should be presented with a sausage voucher for a job well-done.

    Chris J
    The Victoria line change showed what faster intra-stop running & higher acceleration could do for the service to passengers, & the distinct possibility of this coming to the Northern is welcome. After all IIRC it used to be 29-31 mins Walthamstow C – Victoria ( 10 intermediate stations ) & now it is 24-25. Euston – Morden via Bank has 19 intermediate stations.
    So, on could, quite reasonably, expect a reduction in overall journey time, end-to-end (say High Barnet to Morden) of 10 – 11 minutes.
    Which would be really significant.

  12. timbeau says:

    “the trains are already packed after Tooting Broadway”

    Has the effect of Crossrail 2, with its potential to feed hordes of Surrey commuters into the Northern Line at Tooting, been considered in these plans?

  13. THC says:

    Fine article PoP, for which many thanks. I’m musing on what could have been for the Northern line – reverse crayonage? – had the New Works extensions been completed. Now that would have been a complicated timetable!


  14. Twopenny Tube says:

    Thanks for an interesting article. Why is “stepping back” considered to be a high risk method, and is it any more likely to produce “total chaos” than other human or inanimate contingencies on the line?

  15. Malcolm says:

    I wondered that too. Partial stepping back could raise the issue, when trains are at the wrong time or drivers on the wrong train, of whether to use the stepping-back rules from the clock, the driver or the train. But a clear someone-in-charge should be able to sort that. Any stepping back costs money, of course, because typically more drivers are needed. So whether it is done, and on what proportion of services, may depend on weighing the budget against a desire to sweat the (train) assets.

  16. timbeau says:

    @Twopenny Tube
    “stepping back” is a higher risk strategy because essentially the drivers and trains have to be rostered separately. Thus if a train does not arrive where it should when it should, this means that:
    – the misplaced driver will be in the wrong place to take over the train he was due to drive next, so that train will have to be found another driver, and the smisplaced driver will have to do something else
    – the next person scheduled to drive the misplaced train will not be there to take it over, so someone else will have to drive it, and the scheduled person will have to do something else
    You have therefore potentially disrupted the rosters of at least three trains and drivers* instead of just one. Now get all those drivers and trains back to the correct depots at the end of the shift/ working day.

    (*four, unless the misplaced driver stays with the misplaced train)

  17. So a few comments:


    The split is not “necessary”. It is regarded as highly desirable but has never featured on definitive proposals for the future (e.g. 2050 documents). There is now talk of a fall-back position of 32-33tph which I presume would require some form of ATC. From memory the previous talk was of 30tph unless the line gets split.

    I know that people don’t like changing or altering their travel habits but in this case I suspect that capacity issues will one day trump convenience issues. You don’t lightly throw 10% capacity away just because people don’t like changing at Camden Town.

    @Chris J

    Thanks for the info. That makes sense and hopefully we can look to further improvements in April or May. 32tph to Morden was only a possibility I was suggesting. It may of course be something else like 30tph to Morden and 26tph elsewhere. Also, I really cannot see the point in the tidal flow and if that was eliminated by running more trains in the contrapeak direction you could sustain the peak service for a long as desirable.


    I am presuming it is just that you like raising the issue of CR2 and Tooting Broadway at every opportunity. We are only really up to 2020 and CR2 proposals are at a very early stage. I think we can say categorically CR2 has not be taken into account at this stage. In what way would it alter the plan which is basically to run as many trains as posssible?

    @Twopenny Tube

    As I understand it, the risk with stepping back at times of disruption is that drivers have to take the next available train out. This may not be the one intended according to a carefully choreographed staffing plan. So you get trains in the wrong place and drivers coming to their driving hours limit away from their home depot. On out and back lines this is generally manageable. When the Victoria Line has all services running from Brixton to Walthamstow in 2016 there is not that much that can go wrong. On the Jubilee Line, where admittedly some trains terminate short, there is probably slightly more opportunity for problems. The Metropolitan Line’s stepping back at Aldgate is probably mitigated by the fact that there is a common route to Harrow-on-the-Hill so controllers probably have quite a bit of time to prepare a plan to rectify the situation.

    At places like Arnos Grove and Morden one can envisage all sorts of ways things can go wrong – especially on the Northern Line as one of the main depots is on a branch and the train may have been sent to the other branch. My suspicion is that this is one of the reasons they would prefer to split the line entirely so that every train from Morden goes to High Barnet via Bank then comes back again.

  18. Arctic Troll says:

    I know the southern end of the Northern Line is the most over-crowded, but we’re rapidly reaching a time when they will simply have to do something about the High Barnet branch. My experience of commuting from Highgate is that most people are heading for the Bank branch, and the High Barnet branch is much busier than the Edgware branch. It’s a shame that there can’t be 12tph heading from High Barnet (or Mill Hill East, it matters not) towards Bank. Already it is challenging to get on a Bank train at Highgate, very challenging at Archway and impossible at Tufnell Park and Kentish Town.

    @Pedantic of Purley, I think Camden Town represents more of a challenge than simple inconvenience. In the peaks most people are aiming for Bank, so if you split the line there will be a lot of difficulties. If the trains go Edgware to Bank then you’ll literally have train loads of High Barnet passengers switching lines (and there are more passengers from High Barnet than Edgware). If the trains go from High Barnet to Bank then you’ll see struggles to actually board a train at Camden.

    I know this is something that all lines in the centre suffer from- and passengers have to accept they may not board the first train- but IMO splitting the lines is not going to solve capacity problems.

  19. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Any stepping back costs money, of course, because typically more drivers are needed

    No “of course” about it. It is one of those statements that is purely about how one perceives it. I would argue that all three of the following statements have some validity.

    – Stepping back costs money because you need more drivers than trains

    – Stepping back does not cost any money because there is a minimum amount of time between drivers taking one train in and the same or another train out and this hasn’t changed.

    – Stepping back saves money and capital investment because you you can run a frequency of service that would otherwise require more trains and more platforms at the termini (basically both drivers and trains would need a longer dwell time at termini – not just drivers)

    Take your pick.

  20. @Arctic Troll,

    And I suspect it is issues like the one you have described that mean that TfL hesistate to make this current policy – just an aspiration. I don’t think they would dare consider implementing it until satisfying themselves it was workable with a rebuilt Camden Town tube station.

    A survey would need to establish the level of changing platforms at the time. For instance, what effect would Crossrail have on this? There may be people who would stay on the Northern Line train regardless and subsequently change at an appropriate station. There would also be people who live roughly midway between the branches and have a choice of origin station who would prefer to use one local station with certainty that all the trains will go to where they want them to go to.

    I am sure that if this was taken forward one day this would be tried out at less busy times first and the effect monitored. I am sure everyone realises it is a big decision and one that they must not get wrong.

  21. Anonymous says:

    “As the line’s signal upgrade programme comes to an official end”

    Does this include the removal of dozens (?) of redundant signals, many miles of surplus signal cable and thousands (?) of cable posts. The lineside power cables replaced nearly 20 years ago still seem to be there. The scrap value of all that copper and ferrous metal must be huge, even allowing for the costs of recovery.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for another very good article.

    @Matthew et al – re: overcrowding south of Stockwell, that’s correct and has been recognised as such for a long time – for example see page 122 of the 2001 Draft Transport Strategy (I was responsible for the independent analysis of the consultation, so the document is seared on my mind. Unfortunately.)

    @Timbeau – re: CR2 and Tooting Broadway – having attended a CR2 public ‘engagement’ meeting in Tooting this week, at which I have to say TfL/CR/DfT were not particularly impressive, it’s clear that CR2 is seen in part as a relief for the Northern Line. And who seriously would expect long distance commuters to switch from a metro line to a slower tube line, when the CR2 time to e.g. Kings Cross will be twice as fast? I’m sure the CR2 gang have some good modelling of this. But that’s to go off topic – sorry!

  23. mr_jrt says:

    By Tube Beyond Edgware contains some of the planned timetabling options, and shows how they changes as the project did (initially the Hampstead branch was to terminate at Edgware in new platforms, then the layout was revised into what was partially built so the two terminal platforms were in the centre, enabling both to reach Aldenham).

    I’ll spare everyone the usual diatribe about my dislike for the tail wagging the dog and wasting the opportunity to extend from Kennington somewhere more useful in south east London, but I won’t spare you all the moan about omitting the interchange at Vauxhall (which could have quite easily been served as well as Nine Elms).

    Tube “network” indeed. :/

  24. Miles says:

    As much as I’ll be ridiculed for saying it, I think the Northern Line really needs to dust off the old express tracks plan. A second pair of tunnels should be built from Morden to at least Bank itself. Giving 36 tph North of Bank and an extra 8 trains per branch in the North.
    As much as it hurts to think about, if Crossrail 2 really is built as it is currently intended to, then the amount of passengers transferring onto the Northern at Tooting for the City, or even Waterloo would be huge, a second pair of express tracks, with stops only at Balham and Clapham Common would really come into its own then.

  25. ML says:

    As someone who uses the Northern Line from High Barnet, my experience that there have been a lot of weekend closures of one branch or another over the last two or three years, most of which were labelled as being for track renewal rather than for the signalling replacement. Certainly, there have been far more weekend closures than the number of closures mentioned in the Board etc reports on signalling implementation which supports the view that they were indeed mainly for track work.

    Despite which, the signalling implementation does seem to have been far smoother than for the Jubilee.

  26. timbeau says:

    @PoP 1207
    “I suspect that capacity issues will one day trump convenience issues. You don’t lightly throw 10% capacity away just because people don’t like changing at Camden Town.”

    But it is a capacity issue that is preventing the split – the lack of capacity at Camden Town to cope with the interchange traffic. Recent problems at London Bridge and Finsbury Park should have made it very obvious that capacity is about more than merely squirting as many trains through a pipe as you can.

    Stepping back – agreed: you can indeed argue that it saves money because you need fewer trains than drivers. If the number of drivers is fixed, the limiting factor is the time it takes a driver to change ends (to the same or another train) and so you can actually run the service with fewer trains, because the trains spend less time at the termini.

    CR2 No, it was a genuine interst in how holistic transport planning is, or is not.
    @anon “the CR2 time to e.g. Kings Cross will be twice as fast” Indeed it will, but not to Waterloo, or London Bridge or Bank – not unusual destinations for Surrey commuters.
    @Miles – the Express tracks have morphed, they are Crossrail 2. Unfortunately, it is trying to be Chelney as well.

    One can’t help wondering why the Combine thought connecting up the CSLR and Hampstead Tubes 90 years ago was a good idea in the first place.

    It could have been very different: I recall reading of a proposal by the Met to take over the CSLR, and extend it from Euston to Finchley Road, to relieve the Met’s bottleneck north of Baker Street. It came to naught when the Combine took over the CSLR and extended it north instead of west.

  27. straphan says:

    A few points from me:
    – When Crossrail 2 comes to town, will it be faster to get from South West London and Surrey to the City by changing at Tooting (Northern), Tottenham Court Road (Crossrail 1) or Angel (Northern again)?
    – I think it is a minor miracle that they have managed to pull off 30tph without total separation of the two branches.
    – I’m not sure whether going beyond 30tph is feasible without sorting out the last two narrow island stations (Clapham North and Clapham Common) first.
    – TfL wanted the rebuild at Camden Town to feature cross-platform interchanges between the two lines. Even with high volumes of passengers this would have made for a reasonably acceptable interchange.
    – With demand growth being what it is, I suspect full separation will have to happen before the middle of the century. If Camden Council keeps on objecting to digging up the site, I suggest going ahead with the damn thing anyway. There is already a cross-platform interchange at Euston for the Victoria line towards Oxford Circus, and by the time the separation goes ahead there will also hopefully be Crossrail 2.

  28. The Other Paul says:

    Already it is challenging to get on a Bank train at Highgate, very challenging at Archway and impossible at Tufnell Park and Kentish Town.

    Completion of the “New Works” programme might have helped with this problem – you would have been able to run High Barnet to Moorgate via Finsbury Park, Ally Pally via Camden Town and Charing Cross to Kennington, Edgware via Highgate, Camden and Charing Cross to Kennington (-Battersea), and Edgware via Hampstead and Camden Town to Bank and Morden. That would give a strong push to city-bound commuters from North of Highgate to stay on the train to Moorgate via Finsbury Park rather than swapping at Camden.

    I’ll get me crayons out (and then my coat) and say I think Highgate-Finsbury Park is today the only section feasible to reopen as a railway, and if you could feed enough trains down to Moorgate, and hand the WGC service fully over to Thameslink (so only the Hertford service still needs Moorgate) it might work as an LO service. If Moorgate could manage say 16tph you could run the desired 4tph from Hertford and 12tph from Highgate. Would that make much of a dent in the Northern crowding? Maybe not..

    As I said, I’ll get my coat.

  29. Malcolm says:

    There would be some local resistance to losing the woodland walk. But the bigger difficulty with re-opening Highgate to Finsbury Park is that the lines south from FP are already full. If money is to be spent on providing more capacity between north London and the centre, any extra tracks must be through the glue-pot zone, otherwise you are just redistributing the misery. CR2, with all its flaws, would give best value for money in this area.

  30. ML says:

    Although the desired off peak service into Moorgate is 4tph from each of WGC and Hertford Loop (currently 3tph), I think there are currently 4 WGC and 8 Hertford Loop trains into Moorgate in the peak. The desire is to run more Hertford Loop trains in the peak – as many as can be run. And even with improved signalling NR dont think they can run as many as 16tph into Moorgate.

    And unless Thameslink runs more than 24 tph, there isn’t room to transfer the WGCs to Thameslink.

  31. JA says:

    How much of a constraint are the platforms and associated passageways at Bank (pre-upgrade) to the amount of services it is possible to run via the City branch in the morning peak? Even if at this point in time it were possible to run 30tph in each direction, that would be a 20% increase in trains, and presuming there is suppressed demand, a similar increase in the number of passengers as well. Could Bank station in its current form deal safely with any more than 26tph+24tph in the morning?

  32. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ JA – I’m happy to be corrected but I would agree that Bank must be a real concern given the narrow platforms and limited entry / egress routes. I’ve not experienced the horrors of the peak for a long while but the peak shoulders could be really horrible at Bank (NL) with people struggling to get on and off trains. I imagine the peak must be much worse and while possibly not an absolute constraint it must be a factor in designing the timetable and considering any risks / impacts associated with it.

  33. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Very good question. I was going to mention this but didn’t as I was not sure what the current situation was. A few years ago I went to a talk where the LU manager made the point that, apart from any other reasons, Bank station capacity had to be improved if the were to run a more frequent service (exact frequency not specified). The same point was made to me at one of the earlier Bank consultations. However at a later session the person who appeared to be in charge of the project said he would welcome more trains today as it would clear the platforms quicker.

    So I don’t know the answer but this must have been taken into account when going for 26tph. In a way this is just an academic question because they probably won’t have any more rolling stock until the major part of the Bank upgrade is completed in 2020.

    Then again, supposing, for whatever reason, they cannot implement more rolling stock on the Jubilee Line when the production line starts rolling. This is plausible because the Jubilee upgrade relies on reallocating S7 stock from Neasden to newly constructed sidings on the City Widened Lines so there are risks involved in delivering on time. In such circumstances they would presumably want to deliver early to the Northern Line. Could they usefully use the trains on the Bank branch or would this have to wait for the Bank upgrade?

  34. Ian Sergeant says:


    As ever, a very informative article. Could you please give a reference for your timings for station rebuilds?

    General points – re Camden, does anyone know the scope of the rebuild? Camden’s previous opposition was centred around there not being enough in it for the local area. The choice to me is simple – address that or only make changes underground.

    Re splitting the line – it would be initially unpopular, but the extra capacity might mean the trains not being quite so crowded. Being London, many people would move to the branch which was convenient.

    Re the Northern Heights, I wonder what issue we are trying to solve. Should it be in the banned list, or is there any value in further discussion?

    Re Bank, it is an unpleasant place in rush hour. So is King’s Cross St Pancras Northern Line, but King’s Cross St Pancras Victoria Line is fine. Lesson here for me is that the the narrow platforms can cope provided that there is a decent way of leaving the station. Bank will have both an improved station and wider platforms on the Northern Line by 2021. To add more trains now will mean the station as a whole would be more crowded, but the platforms less so. I wonder if the person making the statement that more trains would be welcomed now has modelled this properly – my gut feel is that it would make things worse not better.

  35. Malcolm says:

    Re Bank crowding. Most likely is that extra trains in the morning peak would make crowding worse, because more people per minute would be trying to get through the narrow bits of the station, and maybe some would still be on the platform when the next train arrives. But in the evening peak, the station constrictions would be the limiting factor, and more trains would indeed clear the platforms faster, perhaps making it safer.
    (But I’m no expert, and there are probably complications to do with interchange and so on which I haven’t thought of).

  36. The Other Paul says:

    Many years ago I lived not far from the Parkland walk; I agree that there may be a minimal amount of local resistance to losing it but my experience was that it was chronically underused as a walking route, and was considered dangerous by many people as it was so quiet and secluded. There were many rumours of muggings and even report of a rape. Unless things have changed radically I imagine the resistance will come mainly from adjacent properties and those wanting to protect the natural environment.

    This may have been answered before but I’m curious to know; if Brixton can turn around 36tph why would Moorgate be any different, with the right investment? Even at 16tph it feels to me quite underused for a dedicated route right into the city.

  37. @Ian Sergeant,

    The station rebuild programme chart is in a number of documents but the recent Fit for the Future document is probably the best place for an up-to-date look at this and other timescales.

    If you want to find it the hard way go to TfL site then “tube” from top menu, select “tube improvements”, then select “The future of the Tube” then the “Fit for the Future” document.

    Interestingly I have now noticed that document reports the Northern Line update phase 2 promising at least 30tph is to be done “by 2022” – later than 2020 as promised by the recent press release.

  38. timbeau says:

    “I’m happy to be corrected but I would agree that Bank must be a real concern given the narrow platforms and limited entry / egress routes.”
    The upgrade will fix that, surely

    “When Crossrail 2 comes to town, will it be faster to get from South West London and Surrey to the City by changing at Tooting (Northern), Tottenham Court Road (Crossrail 1) or Angel (Northern again)?”
    Depends where in the City:
    from Wimbledon, the journey times I have found are
    Tooting 2,
    TCR 12
    Angel 16

    This gives total times to Bank from Wimbledon, using TfL journey planner times except for the Central Line which isn’t calling at TCR at present so I’ve had to interpolate.

    via Waterloo: 32 minutes (including time to change there)

    via Tooting: 27 minutes

    via TCR: 20 minutes

    via Angel: 22 minutes

  39. Anonymous says:

    The Other Paul

    I walked most of the Parkland Walk three years ago on a fine autumn Sunday and it felt and looked like the M25 for pedestrians.

    Yes, it has in the past (speaking from personal experience)been an escape route for muggers.

    However , regrettably, I think that it should now be seen as a ‘lost cause’ for public transport. LB Haringey have probably done too good a job on it!!

  40. Mike says:

    Pop – I had some difficulty working out what “stepping back every fourth train” meant (what could possibly be happening to the other three?), but I see that what the WTT actually says is “Train Operators will Step Back four trains”. Aha!

  41. Taz says:

    “stepping back every fourth train” at Morden works with trains reversing in only two platforms, the other being used for to/from depot. I think it means that an arriving driver sees his train depart and the next arrival in his platform depart before he takes the following train away.

  42. Chris J says:


    “Interestingly I have now noticed that document reports the Northern Line update phase 2 promising at least 30tph is to be done “by 2022″ – later than 2020 as promised by the recent press release.”

    Talking to Mike Brown on Monday, he confirmed that Underground ridership is ‘rising faster than expectations’, so ‘we are constantly reviewing our forecasts’. In the light of that, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are bringing forward the NL capacity enhancements as the Piccadilly Line timescale appears to be moving right.

    On your other point, he confirmed that TfL is definitely looking at ‘six to eight’ more trains for the Jubilee Line, although the numbers for the NL growth build (beyond the five needed for Battersea) are still under discussion.

  43. Ian Sergeant says:

    Interesting to note in the Fit For The Future document that there is a commitment to a second ticket hall at Camden. Hopefully negotiations are ongoing with Camden Council to secure an appropriate site.

    The document doesn’t say anything about cross platform interchange. Without it we will see bunching to the front of town-bound trains.

  44. Mike says:

    Taz – I agree that that’s what happens, at least in the am peak, using platforms 3 and 5 for stepping back (the other platforms aren’t used), but every operator on every train steps back four trains. My point is that stepping back “every fourth train” (if that were in fact possible) isn’t an accurate description of this process.

    [OK. I have changed the wording and also made it clear that just two platforms are used. PoP]

  45. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Chris J – interesting comments re MB’s current thinking. It must surely be a concern that the Picc Line upgrade upgrade seems to be slipping back and back. There are signs that reliability is slipping especially with the signalling. It looks to me that LU is trying to do what it can with available funding to maximise the gain from completed upgrades, complete the SSR upgrade and the station capacity works. Despite a capital funding agreement up to 2020 it looks to me that the cost of the New Tube for London is proving problematic within available funds hence the longer timescale. Extending project phasing is a classic technique for coping with difficult overall budget limits – I did it enough times when I was a Client and especially for those items that were not approved committed projects! Slippage with the Picc upgrade doesn’t bode well for the subsequent lines either.

  46. Anonymous says:

    The Other Paul –

    The reason for the disparity between Brixton and Moorgate can be summed up in one word “overuns”.

    At Brixton overun tunnels exist well beyond the platform limits ensuring that approaching trains may enter the station at high speed – because if the don’t stop in there is plenty of space for the trip cock to intervene and bring it to a halt well before the end of the tunnel is reached.

    At Moorgate – as the 1975 smash demonstrated only too well there is VERY minimal space beyond the platforms – only about a single car length. As a result trains must be checked on the approch to the platforms so they don’t risk going too fast and slamming head on into the end of the tunnel. This in turn delays the clearance of the crossover to the North of Moorgate station and thus limits the number of arrivals that can be accommodated.

  47. Mikey C says:

    If the Northern Line IS split, then many people may decide to change to other lines, rather than the other branch at Camden, e.g. to the Victoria Line from the Bank branch at Euston or to the Piccadilly or Circle lines at Kings Cross?

  48. straphan says:

    @timbeau: Thanks for doing the calculations. This means those worrying about extra passengers from Crossrail 2 heading towards the City should stop worrying. The am flow at Tooting will primarily be going the other way, with people heading towards the West End changing at Tooting for Crossrail 2 rather than at Stockwell for the Victoria Line.

    Regarding Bank station, I think it is due to be finished by 2020, which is probably only shortly after the extra trains get delivered anyway…

    Regarding the Camden Town upgrade, I believe Camden Council was against the length of the works. Bear in mind you can’t just ‘do some work underground’: in order to get to the station below you need to first dig a large hole. I think this would mean razing the whole ‘wedge’ of buildings between Chalk Farm Road, Kentish Town Road, and Buck Street, closing Camden Town station for a good few years, and probably closing the Northern Line for extended periods (a month at a time at least). Never mind the construction traffic, etc. Camden Council is generally very averse to large infrastructure projects, and is probably the biggest spender of all the councils opposed to HS2. Trouble is: their stance on the matter is holding a large part of London to ransom.

    Perhaps not stopping the Northern Line at all stations in Camden until they agree to the reconstruction could work?

  49. timbeau says:

    “This means those worrying about extra passengers from Crossrail 2 heading towards the City should stop worrying. The am flow at Tooting will primarily be going the other way,”
    The calculations were for Bank – you will get different answers for London Bridge, for example, where Tooting will cleatrly be the best option.

    And time is not the only consideration: How many people from the three stations south of Tooting Broadway will give up their seat on the Northern Line to cram onto XR2 to the West End or beyond? Conversely, how many people standing on an XR2 at Tooting Bdy will see the time penalty of the Northern Line as a reasonable price to pay for the chance of getting a seat? (As I said, there are only three stations south of Tooting Bdy, so the Northern Line should not be as rammed as XR2 is likely to be)

    For a significant part of their catchment areas, the XR2 station at Wimbledon will be just as convenient as taking the Northern Line and changing, further reducing the number of people changing from NL to XR2.

    We shall see – people’s travel habits will evolve in unexpected ways as the network environment changes

  50. Taz says:

    The order for more trains for the Northern & ten for the Jubilee was scheduled for Nov/Dec 2015 on the last TfL Finance & Planning Committee forward schedule, but has slipped to March 2016 on the latest version, not far short of June 2016 contract award for the Piccadilly NTfL trains. Last April’s notice for expressions of interest suggested that some innovations might also be incorporated into the existing N&J fleets to reduce performance differences between the old and new.

  51. straphan says:

    @timbeau: no doubt they will… But then again I doubt comfort is a huge issue for people doing the morning commute: it’s more about the perceived safety (plenty of people avoid Clapham Common and Clapham North as they are too scared of the narrow platforms) and the chances of getting the first train that comes along (which is why if I have to go from Canada Water to Euston in the morning I always change at Green Park rather than at London Bridge even though it’s 1 minute longer via Green Park).

    Even today, plenty of people wanting to get to the West End from the southern reaches of the Northern line choose to change at Stockwell for an already quite cosy Victoria Line train rather than get an almost guaranteed seat on a slower Charing X train from Kennington.

    But I agree with you – it’s going to be a wait and see thing…

  52. Ian Sergeant says:


    I think this would mean razing the whole ‘wedge’ of buildings between Chalk Farm Road, Kentish Town Road, and Buck Street, closing Camden Town station for a good few years, and probably closing the Northern Line for extended periods (a month at a time at least).

    Comments like that will scare the horses. You do need a big hole for the building work and the second ticket hall, but that hole can be to the north of Buck Street, where the conservation area ends. You do not, and you won’t be allowed to, change the area to the immediate north of the station.

    You need the hole regardless to do the work underground. The advantage with a second ticket hall is that Camden benefits from that second ticket hall, which would not be on a major junction. I feel that would be key to securing their support.

  53. straphan says:

    @Ian Sargeant: I am not an engineer, hence mine is only a guess based on how big the holes for the Crossrail stations are…

    Either way: the extent of the works would make this project a bit of a blight in the area, and as I said before, Camden Council are one of the more averse to these big construction jobs…

  54. Anonymous says:


    Most of the people who change to the Victoria Line at Stockwell are going to Green Park or Oxford Circus which aren’t served by the Northern Line.

  55. AlisonW says:

    Another issue with the all-too-necessary rebuild of Camden Town station is, basically, at present it is in the wrong place! A new entrance to suit the current platform locations would be north of the current one, bang in the middle of the market areas – which is what attracts people to Camden in the first place – and the ‘big hole’ will also need the removal of a school and other long-established facilities.

    If, however, there were entrances further along Camden High Street to the south then pedestrians wouldn’t be needing to cross the main road to get to the station. Even with the recent increase in pavement area this is still a major issue.

    There has also been a long-term desire to make the Camden High Street area trafficless. How this can happen in reality is difficult to see as the existence of the canal means the road locations are pretty fixed unless you go with flyovers or tunnels. And given how the area responded to being a planned core junction for the London Box motorways I don’t see that happening.

    For many years it seemed to me that were Camden to be rebuilt it would have to be closed to PAX during the redevelopment because of access issues and therefore that Kentish Town South could be reopened as a nearby option, but that is also now not feasible. Whatever eventually happens it will make the area impossible for traffic for a year or more and though LBoC won’t want that I’m not sure there is any practical alternative.

  56. Briantist (in Gigabit internet heaven) says:

    “Another issue with the all-too-necessary rebuild of Camden Town station is, basically, at present it is in the wrong place! A new entrance to suit the current platform locations would be north of the current one, bang in the middle of the market areas – which is what attracts people to Camden in the first place – and the ‘big hole’ will also need the removal of a school and other long-established facilities.”

    I was under the impression (from somewhere) that the thinking would be to abandon the current Camden Town location and locate the station northwards.

    One reason I think this is that the new station is supposed to be linked to Camden Road Overground, which is quite a walk as it stands at the moment.

    I guess the actual location of the platforms (for Northern Line-Southern Line interchange as it could be) and the location of the passenger entrance and exists has lot of scope , but the Markets might be better served, as you suggest.

  57. Ian Sergeant says:


    The market is on the south of Buck Street within the conservation area, so we have to be talking further north. You are right that the entrance needs to move north in any case closer to the market. The school is moving which might create an opportunity – I have two-year-old information on this, but I need to research again. If appropriate I’ll update the blog post I made at the time.

  58. Taz says:

    In response to an early question, the Northern Line train refurbishment is ongoing, around 80% complete, so should be completed around mid-year to release spare trains for service. It will then move on to the Jubilee fleet.

  59. Anonymous says:

    The article states ‘To get beyond 30tph through Camden Town probably requires some kind of centralised supervising software (generally known as Automatic Train Control – ATC) to optimise’. I I understand it the term ATC in the European Standards is the Combination of Automatic Train Protection and Automatic Train Operation which the Northern ( and Victoria, Central & Jubilee) lines has already.

    Should the article have stated the requirement is for Automatic Train Regulation (ATR) ? ATR is already operational on the Victoria Line but in general it fights against the number of TPH as ATR on the Victoria Line can only slow things down – the trains run at maximum acce;leration, speed and braking already on most of the line though the World Class Capacity project is tweaking a few areas.

  60. Anonymous says:

    One thing to remember with the discussions on TPH ( Trains Per Hour) . There are three measures:
    1: TPH
    2: Journey Time
    3: Energy Consumption

    You can only optomise any one – with a really good signalling system you should be able to swap from one to the other depending on demand and time of day. The Victoria Line is optimised for Journey Time which is what the P{PP contract required – the requirement is now for TPH so that is why VL World Class is tweaking the design. Unfortunatly the optimisation on the Victoria Line is built into the lengths of the track circuits so needs physical changes to change from one optimisation to another to another.

  61. marek says:


    It is always possible to get a seat on the northbound Victoria at Stockwell, albeit sometimes at the price of waiting for the second train (not a great hardship at current frequencies). Few people at Brixton bother to walk more than half way along the platform, which means that the front half of the train is generally very lightly loaded when it gets to Stockwell. So while of course trains going round the Kennington loop are emptier still, the trade off between speed and comfort isn’t as strong as you imply.

    It will, though, be interesting to see the effect of greater capacity on the Northern to deliver passengers to the Victoria at Stockwell. The transfer volumes are already very high, and if we were to get to the point where the Victoria couldn’t remove people as fast as the Northern delivers them (which is about the growth of traffic at Brixton as well as relative train frequencies), things could change markedly.

  62. Taz says:

    The latest plans for Camden Town rebuild were actually referenced in the article (under the crossed out diagram with error on southbound Barnet branch frequencies – as per original) – see . The northern ticket hall will be welcomed by locals, but there doesn’t appear to be a big improvement in cross-platform interchange, and those in the know would continue to prefer the current shorter southern passages. But if SSR plan 32tph through flat junctions like Aldgate triangle, surely they could do better on the grade-separated Camden junctions.

  63. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Anonymous 17:50

    Perhaps this will clarify things for you. As you will see ATC is more than just ATP and ATO which, you rightly say, the Jubilee and Victoria (and Northern!) lines have already.

    This is why I was trying to contrast the situation on the Jubilee and Victoria Lines with the Northern Line. In the case of the first two you just want to maximise tph and specific timings at specific points is not critical. One can expect this to work to up to 36tph. Adopting this strategy on the Northern Line (or the Sub-surface Railway) won’t work because you won’t optimise throughput at junctions. So you need the addition of some supervisory control for the line. Automatic Train Control is a bit if a bad name and perhaps Automatic Line Control or Automatic Network Control would be better but I thought I would stick with the standard industry term.

    Of course, once you optimise the system for junctions, you no longer optimise it to maximise tph on a straightforward out and back railway which is why the Sub-Surface Railway resignalling is only intending to manage 32tph – and some people think that is wildly optimistic. It is also why without the split of the line it is not believed that you will get more than 33tph out of the Northern Line.

  64. c says:

    Hopefully the speed increases will do some good on the Northern line, some sections especially in the two cores are painfully slow…

    30tph on each branch is a great improvement. Many a time I’ve gone down to a platform and see “High Barnet 14 mins” or similar. I suspect there’s suppressed demand too, due to its dreadful reputation. Speed will help too.

    Higher would flood the Battersea branch with capacity – 32tph+ could probably be enough to cope with Clapham Junction demand I reckon (and an intermediate station for actual true residential Battersea).

    Down the line, I wonder if they will tackle the two Clapham island platforms like they did at Angel a few years back.

  65. Pedantic of Purley says:


    I amazed that there is never any mention from TfL/LU about tackling Clapham Common and Clapham North island platforms. I do wonder if that is partly because the trains will be full in the morning peak period and so they feel that there isn’t much point.

    Maybe they are waiting for Crossrail 2 in the belief that the diverted traffic will make them more useable stations and they will tackle the problem then. I can certainly see a reluctance to spend money on this now when it could be going towards Crossrail 2. Nevertheless the current passenger usage figures for the stations would suggest that this really ought to be tackled sooner rather than later. In the case of Clapham North it would be good if any solution could incorporate better interchange with Clapham High St LO station.

    On District Dave someone suggested years ago that they make only northbound stop at one and only southbound stop at the other and partition off the platform not being used. It is a clever idea but I can see the problems of people travelling south to go back on themselves to go north.

    An obvious alternative is platform edge doors but that doesn’t solve the problem that the people can’t get on the trains in the morning.

  66. Anonymous says:

    While the junctions at Camden are grade-seperated, the frequencies mentioned run on both branches simultaneously, so 32tph on each route would mean 64tph through the junction complex. Grade-seperation allows for fully independant approaches, but you still have to get 32tph across all the ‘flat bits’. If this requires centralised train regulation on the SSR, it may well require the same on the Northern line.

  67. Taz says:

    It should be said that TfL is not convinced that 36tph is sustainable on the Jubilee as planned with West Hampstead/North Greenwich shuttle added to current service, and has 34.3tph fall back position – see November Board meeting. An end to end shuttle as planned for the Victoria Line would be too expensive with trains on the Jubilee, I suppose.

  68. Ian Sergeant says:


    Thank you for that presentation. The options for Camden seem to me to be very much “here’s one you might want, here’s one you don’t want”. If I was a Camden councillor I would be a little insulted that anyone would present option 2 which took over the market, despite the lesser impact elsewhere. That having been said, you won’t be surprised to hear that option 1 is close to where my thinking is, although the lack of CPI would undoubtedly cause bunching to the town-bound front, as both of us have pointed out.

    What I don’t know is what other plans Camden might have for the Hawley Street school site. I seem to remember that read something about affordable housing being planned. I’ll take another look.

  69. Taz says:

    @ Ian It sounds much like Yes Minister. You can’t force it on the Council; you must give them options to make their own choice. So give them the option you want and another they couldn’t possibly accept. A simplified version of the one previously rejected should do it, as it won’t require much to prepare. I think option 1 only requires ground floor access on completion, so residential development above would be OK.

  70. Tom says:

    This might be leftfield and is probably stupid for about 80 reasons, but:

    1. Whilst this is no longer possible and perhaps never possible for physical reasons I might be unaware of, given the issues at Camden Town, why is Euston not laid out to act as a better interchange between the two northern line routes?

    2. If this were possible, would interchange at Camden Town be entirely necessary, even in the event of the line separating?

    3. If not, could one line only serve Camden town and the other branch re-open the old South Kentish Town site?

    Be nice…

  71. The Other Paul says:

    @Anonymous 16 January 2015 at 10:32
    Re: Overruns Moorgate vs Brixton
    Thanks for the info that makes perfect sense.

  72. CPI is cross platform interchange

  73. Ronnie MB says:

    The two Northern Line routes at Euston were originally separate railways, operated by separate companies, who had separate stations.

    When the Victoria Line was being built, that was cross platform interchange connected to the Bank branch and the opportunity taken to deal with the island platform,

  74. The Other Paul says:

    Further to Ronnie MB’s response, there is considerable physical distance between the two branches at Euston; the current interchange is already lengthy and redevelopment of the station could not do much to address that. Plus it would make it very expensive.

  75. Greg Tingey says:

    And, if you think the two Claphams is bad, you should have seen the old (Western / Charing X branch ) platform @ Euston before theVic-line rebuild.
    Grim is not the word for it – narrow, cramped & dark – what a welcome to visitors to London from the North.
    Almost as bad as Stepney Green, before it was cleaned up ….

  76. HowardGWR says:

    As an outsider, I couldn’t see much on Street View worth conserving around that triangle of Buck St southwards. The HSBC corner building is pleasingly curved. It was interesting to see the mystified tourists around the closed station entrances in one view and the deserted roll-shuttered street in other views depending on when the Google cameraman visited (0530 Sunday morning in the latter case, I imagine) and clearly proves that a main entrance to the north would seem sensible. What is that appalling empty building on stilts opposite the east entrance to Buck St? Perhaps it has now been demolished.

  77. mr_jrt says:

    There’s a picture of the old Euston platforms from the 1950s here:

  78. Miles says:

    @ Marek

    Take it from me as someone who lives south of Stockwell on the Northern Line, its more than just OC and GP people want to travel to. Euston and Kings Cross are often destinations by the Victoria Line to shave off a few extra minutes rather than looping round the City. And cross platform interchange at Euston used to be a handy way of breaking up a long journey northwards on the Northern Line up the Edgware and HB branches. I say used to because these days I find changing back onto the Northern at Euston, the same train I got off on at Stockwell would arrive first.

    It also makes me wonder what the effect on Stockwell would be if the Vic is extended south, be it in its most humble state to Herne Hill or the Full Monty extension down to Croydon. Obviously an extension down to Croydon will have some very high loadings.

  79. Mark Townend says:

    @Anonymous, 16 January 2015 at 17:58
    “One thing to remember with the discussions on TPH ( Trains Per Hour) . There are three measures: 1: TPH, 2: Journey Time, 3: Energy Consumption
    You can only optomise any one – with a really good signalling system you should be able to swap from one to the other depending on demand and time of day . . . “

    Journey time has implications on fleet size too. TPH can be increased if you allow following trains to enter a platform whilst the previous train is departing . . BUT you have to slow down a little earlier in order to do that safely, as in the case of the forward train stopping suddenly again (and it can do so quickly in emergency because it hasn’t built up much momentum), the following trains’ braking must always allow it to stop in the space available. That increases journey time marginally from stop to stop. Ideally for journey time optimisation, the front train just clears the platform starter (signal or block marker equivalent position) and any overlap built in at exactly the same time the next following train at full tunnel speed reaches the final decision point for the closest home protecting the platform (the ‘distant’ (where provided) changing from yellow to green in old money) . Thus the second train can delay slowing down until intersecting the normal service braking curve for the station stop for the fastest possible transit.

  80. Evergreenadam says:

    Thanks for those photos of Euston in the 1950s. What exactly was done to the CX branch platforms at Euston as part of the Victoria Line rebuild? Was a new parallel running tunnel constructed? I have to admit I was not aware of these works as usually any history of Euston Underground station in that period is dominated by the construction of new running tunnels and escalator banks to enable provision of cross platform interchange between the City branch and the Victoria Line.

  81. Enver says:

    I know I don’t need to do this commute again, as I don’t go to my secondary school anymore. But I always recalled that if I went from Arnos Grove to Chalk Farm in peak times, northbound King’s X only had High Barnet/Mill Hill East trains so I had to change a second time at Camden Town. Similarly, when I lived in Acton, northbound trains at Leicester Square only went to Edgware.

    Why was it the case, is it still the case and if so, are there plans to run trains to all three destinations (Edgware, High Barnet and Mill Hill East) at peak times?

  82. Milton Clevedon says:

    Basically very little was done to the 1907 vintage CCE&HR station tunnels, other than sprucing up the platforms and closing the former surface entrance on Melton Street, which had been reached via the south (actually west) end of the platform. The entrance/exit is now via the north (actually east) end of the platforms via the main VL/C&SLR escalators and corridors. Trains still serve the original platforms. It was the C&SLR platforms that were re-organised and ‘had an Old Street Angel / London Bridge’ done to them, with a new NB Northern (City) line running tunnel and platform built at Euston. A short section of the previous C&SLR island platform still exists, as a reversing stub for trains accessing the Piccadilly Line chord.

  83. Evergreenadam says:

    @Milton Clevedon

    Something must have been done as there is no such view available now, unless a wall was erected to divide the island platform in two? Which must make the platforms narrower than in the 1950s! Time for a HS2 rebuild?

  84. Slugabed says:

    Here is a photo of the tunnel which used to be an island platform but is now an extra-wide single platform.,_Northern_Line_City_branch,

  85. Milton Clevedon says:

    Haven’t checked recently, but probably a ‘modesty’ wall has been built to hide the stub where it enters the platform. The track layout is shown in CartoMetro and also in this link: (see the Connections section). The stub has a trivial distance into the platform, so it irrelevant in relation to HS2 capacity issues (though those exist in substantial scale for the City branch).

  86. Evergreenadam says:

    Things are getting confusing on this thread. That is the City branch which did indeed have an extra wide platform created by the Victoria Line rebuild.

    Greg Tigney referred to a rebuild of the Charing Cross branch platforms, which I was not aware of previously.

    mr_JRT posted a photo of an old island platform at Euston in the 1950s. However it is not clear is this is the Charing Cross branch or City branch plaforms. Perhaps GT was incorrect and there were no works to the Charing Cross branch platforms.

  87. Anonymous says:

    The pictures were of the city branch platforms.

  88. timbeau says:

    Are there any pictures of the CCE&HR platforms?

    As Milton C said, very little was done to their layout other than closing the separate street entrance, leaving only the entrance via the City/Vic landing. This was heavily remodelled not only because of the construction of the Victoria Line but also the rebuilding of the British Rail station above.

  89. Evergreenadam says:

    Passengers wishing to exit the station from the Charing Cross branch platforms have a long walk, interrupted by flows of passengers entering the station from the ticket hall moving towards the City branch and Victoria line platforms. A new staircase and escalator bank from the Charing Cross branch allowing a direct route to the ticket hall would be useful and relieve some pinch points. Not sure what the plan is for HS2 reconstruction.

  90. Milton Clevedon says:

    Neither, yet, is HS2! The HS2 ‘level deck’ scheme is seriously unwell – see other posts about this! However the core issue is gross overloading risks for the Northern Line City branch (or ‘Northern City’ Line by then), by the date of HS2 Phase 2 (ca. 2030). Details about corridor alterations within the tube station are a second order issue.

  91. Alan Griffiths says:

    timbeau 17 January 2015 at 11:21

    “@tom, Paul, Ronnie
    Euston layout”

    That drawing, if it is three-dimensionally consistent, implies that it wouldn’t be all that complicated to install lifts from the Euston ticket hall to all platforms levels. Is that reasonable, or am I kidding myself?

  92. Robert Butlin says:

    Milton Clevedon 16:30. Do you mean an Angel solution rather than an Old Street one?

  93. timbeau says:

    @Alan Griffiths
    Not that east, I suspect
    Assuming the plan view to be accurate, the NW corner of the ticket hall is close to the CX branch platforms. However, the gap between the platforms may not be wide enough to take a lift shaft – I imagine the design is similar to that at TCR (built by the same company at the same time) where the platforms had to be narrowed to squeeze a lift shat between them.
    There would be little problem in dropping a shaft from hear the ticket hall between the s/b City/Vic platforms, between the two diverging escalator banks.
    The problem is the northbound City/Vic A lift shaft to these would have to go from the SE corner of the ticket hall This is not only outside the barrier line, but where the entrance down from the NR concourse is. This would require a major rearrangement of the booking hall and probably the concourse above.
    Now, if only there was some plan to remodel Euston NR in the near future…………..

  94. Milton Clevedon says:

    @Robert Butlin
    Yes indeed!

  95. And to be clear, the situation on the Northern Line at London Bridge as regards platforms was completely different to Euston, Clapham North and Clapham South.

    As far as I am aware, London Bridge had two platforms from opening day of the City & South London Railway.

    I think there was a report that recommended something be done in terms of creating a new platform tunnel at Clapham North, Clapham Common and London Bridge. I thought it was the Fennel Report but I cannot find a reference in that so it must have been another one.

    The issue at London Bridge was that it was a very busy station and it had two separate platforms but no intermediate circulating space. A very good analogy would be the Northern Line platforms at Bank station today. The recommendation was that one of the platforms gets converted to a central circulation area and a new platform and tunnel built which is what happened.

  96. Evergreenadam says:

    The London Bridge/Bank scenario is likely to become increasingly necessary. The volume of passengers at some stations with no central circulation space between platforms is simply outpacing the capacity provided by the narrow depth of the platforms, particularly at Leicester Square Piccadilly Line.
    Alternatively providing a level passage exit to an escalator bank at each end of the platform (Piccadilly line – Knightsbridge/Hyde Park Corner/Green Park) does minimize the length of platform exiting passengers need to traverse to leave the platform or interchange with other lines, which would reduce pinch points when the platforms are still heaving with waiting passengers unable to board or waiting for a train to a different branch.

  97. timbeau says:

    “As far as I am aware, London Bridge had two platforms from opening day of the City & South London Railway. ”
    London Bridge had no platforms at all until over nine years after the CSLR opened. It ran non-stop from Borough to King William Street, passing under London Bridge station. It was only with the extension to Moorgate in 1900 that a station was built at LBR, with a new station at Bank replacing KWS.

  98. @timbeau,

    You are correct of course. OK, since 1900 London Bridge had two platforms.

  99. Taz says:

    @ Evergreenadam 17 January 2015 at 22:13 I presume that most of the original tube stations are now hard-pressed to cope with the crowds. But they will need to continue that way for some time. Camden Town is not expecting a fix until 2024, and that will be followed by Old Street. The next tranche is only expected to get to the stage of choosing between options by the end of 2016, so will follow on in ten years from now! That is Baker Street, Harrow-on-the-Hill, High Street Kensington, Moorgate and Walthamstow Central in that order (see this week’s Finance Committee papers). I wonder if Old Street and Moorgate will receive Bank style solutions to the C&SLR platforms. The only deep level stations listed in the 2050 Infrastructure Plan were Paddington Bloo and South Kensington (now missing from above list), Piccadilly Circus and Liverpool Street by 2035, and Waterloo, Earl’s Court, Green Park, Warren Street and Embankment by 2050. However, plans for Platform Edge Doors at most zone one stations will make a big change to their environment.

  100. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Evergreenadam – while I agree with you about how horribly overcrowded Leicester Sq can get I am not sure that platform level escalators up to ticket halls work very well with today’s crowding. The stations you quote typically have a very short run off from the bottom of the escalator to the platform end. This means you get cross flows in a limited space with no “holding area”. In congested conditions you can have the bottom landing jam solid with the down escalator feeding people into a non moving mass of humanity. That could be lethal. By all means construct escalators right down to platform level but it’s essential to get a long run offs and space so people can enter and exit platforms comfortably without risking pile ups of people.

    @ Taz – thanks for quoting the latest TfL papers. You beat me to it. While I am pleased to see Walthamstow Central on the list of possible priority schemes I am left wondering quite what is going to be done. An extra escalator would be helpful but that then poses an issue about the size of the gateline. Making that bigger then brings in a load of issues about locations of stairs and subways and being very near the NR tracks. One to watch for certain. I’d certainly like to understand how the prioritisation of station schemes is being done as I’d expect there to be an enormous list of places requiring attention given the way demand is increasing. Unfortuately the schemes are so expensive and take so long to do that we’re looking at many decades to achieve substantial improvement even if the budget was there to allow several schemes to run in parallel. I also wonder how long it will be before the very high frequency service levels on upgraded lines cause knock on issues for stations including those in the suburbs. I’d argue we’re seeing some of that with the Victoria Line.

  101. Melvyn says:

    Given that the expansion of Euston Station for HS2 will be at its western end the old CXEH entrance might make a comeback not in its old form but where lift and escalators will be located from these platforms to an expanded Euston .

    The fact the CX platforms were not upgraded when the Victoria Line was build was more to do with short term spending cuts the Victoria Line had imposed on it and which its now costing billions to put right !

    Of course building techniques have changed and we now have less of the hand mining used then to build tunnels avnd more machine built tunnels that allow the far bigger tunnels that we can see being built on Crossrail together with more open box stations where you build a big hole and after installing a box are much freer to install escalators and lifts .

    In an earlier TV series about the tube Tim O’Toole said that no matter how many trains you run the main problem is at stations and clearing platforms a problem made worse where alighting passengers have to trudge up stairs and today often have luggage, prams, children etc unlike the days when the tube was largely used by city workers only carrying an umbrella and briefcase !

    The new entrance at TCR shows how access could be improved at many stations by simply installing a lift and where possible escalators from street to booking hall at stations which already have escalators or more rarely lifts from platform to booking hall level and gap is to street.
    To do this TFL needs to work more with developers as at Bank for the W&C line to incorporate new entrances to stations when buildings are being developed above stations an opportunity was recently missed at Aldgate East which could have seen lifts installed as part of over site development .

  102. timbeau says:

    The island platforms at Euston, Angel, Clapham North and Clapham Common (I think they were the only ones apart from King William Street) were all built as part of the extensions I 1900-1907 and, with the exception of Clapham North, were all initially the terminus of the line (although Angel had that status for only six years). Perhaps the terminal status, where there is likely to be train standing at the platform for much of the time, (especially with locomotives to change) made the narrow island platforms less of a danger.
    (Incidentally, what were the terminal arrangements on the CSLR? Was there an arrival and a departure platform, with trains changing over (and the loco running round) in a reversing wye beyond the station? or did trains reverse in both platforms, with the loco following the train out to get to the front of the next one?

  103. Ronnie MB says:

    @ Melvyn

    Your comment about lifts made reflect that everything really does turn full circle in the end, because there was a phase where lifts were being ripped out and escalators put in!

  104. Fandroid says:

    I have had a dig in the archives for info on the CSLR terminus stations. The ICE paper by Greathead describes them thus:

    ‘The terminal station in the City has two platforms for “arrival” and “departure” and a single line of rails; at Stockwell there is a central platform with a line on each side of it so that two trains may be in the station at one time’. A Fig 6 is referred to but I cannot find it in the scanned version of the paper.

  105. timbeau says:

    That was the original layout, as illustrated in the last picture here

    Changed in 1895 to an island platform layout. It would appear from another picture that the other terminus at Stockwell initially also had an island layout.

  106. Taz says:

    The original Stockwell island platform was north of the current station, which was built as part of incorporating the C&SLR into the Northern Line.

    Interesting that the future will be all about stations when the PPP didn’t seem to mention them.

  107. AlisonW says:

    The former island platform at Euston did not intially get widened over its full length, with a stub actually remaining into the station of around a car length iirc. There was also a signal box a few yards inside that stretch of tunnel (I recall, um, wandering in there one night when waiting ages for a train to arrive). Other than closing the former exit (which was – is? – still visible at surface level) there were no changes made to the CX side of things at platform level other than linking to the new entrance.

    So far as Clapham North & Common are concerned, I’ve regularly been surprised that HSE haven’t taken TfL/LU to task over crowding levels – but given there aren’t people falling off every week maybe it isn’t as bad as it feels? Adding PEDs would surely *narrow* the platforms even more, thus being a non-starter.

  108. Greg Tingey says:

    That is Baker Street, Harrow-on-the-Hill, High Street Kensington, Moorgate and Walthamstow Central in that order
    They may need to do something @ WC much sooner than that! There are ongoing “barrier & entrance/exit” works going on at present that seriously alarm me.
    And WW – it isn’t the space to the gateline that’s the problem, it’s the (IMHO) dangerous restriction of further incoming/outgoing passenger-flows that is really giving me palpitations.

    short term spending cuts the Victoria Line had imposed on it Like the non-rebuild of Blackhorse Rd, you mean, followed by a mean rebuild with dangerously narrow platforms, that may, some time soon, finally be put right?

  109. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Taz – stations were mentioned in the PPP in terms of them being refurbished and kept in decent condition over 30 years. Shame Metronet were incapable of delivering the refurbs. There was a deliberate decision to keep large scale capacity schemes separate because of the likely vast scale and expense. LU could negotiate a Major Enhancement Agreement with the Infraco or it could go to an eternal party for the work. The wider issue was always that finance. It is worth bearing in mind that work at TCR started under the PPP regime although the work was not contracted with Tube Lines. The necessary supporting work / infrastructure protection was contracted with Tube Lines. Obviously it’s all “in house” now but it’s fashionable to pan the PPP even though there were workable mechanisms in place. I’m not saying it was perfect but it was not the monumental disaster that people think it was.

  110. Anonymous says:

    From someone with only half a clue, what are the objections of Camden Council to an expansion and modernisation of Camden Town tube station?

  111. Slugabed says:

    Camden’s objections can be summarised as
    a) A wish to conserve the character of the area (the rejected scheme would have been part-financed by (over) redevelopment of the whole triangle site,which is a Conservation Area) and
    b) An awareness of the disruptive effect that the works would have had, until completion, upon what is still one of London’s largest tourist attractions.

  112. Greg Tingey says:

    Of course, given the already bad (dangerous?) congestion at Camden Town, if the local council reject the next application to rebuild, then Tfl have a very simple option, don’t they?
    The station is made “exit-only” at all times, no entrance allowed.
    I can imagine that LBC would finally wake up at that point.

    Mind you, as a lifelong Londoner I simply cannot see the supposed attraction of Camden Market anyway, but that’s just me.

  113. @JeffinLondon says:

    One would think automation is the solution to Camden’s complexities. A bit of software could control the trains in and out of the maze – optimizing throughput far, far better than humans could ever do manually.

    Automation is a far sight better than asking 50% of through passengers to switch platforms at the height of peak periods.

  114. timbeau says:


    You have a touching faith in the capability of automated systems to adapt to unexpected circumstances. When we can automate passenger behaviour, you might be on to something.

    In any case, automatic programme machines have been controlling the points at Camden Town since the 1950s.

  115. Milton Clevedon says:

    There are three topics relating to Camden Town:

    1. passenger volumes on entry/exit where the station is unfit for very high volumes and double-ending in some form is the solution;

    2. passenger interchange between lines where easy options don’t exist, with the risk of unbalanced interchange flows because the separation between platforms at the northern end is considerable and could lead to preferential use and consequent crowding at the southern end (a solution to that might either involve a new southbound line, for one of the Barnet or Edgware branches to get closer to the other for more of a platform’s length, or some elaborate adaptation of the existing deep-level tunnels);

    3. service frequency, where perturbation affecting two inter-dependent lines rather than one will remain a risk.

    If you are going to have to invest in (1), then you might review the opportunity to address (2) at the same time, taking one construction hit rather than two, eg to get material in/out for (2), not least as any new platform(s) would also need to be connected to the second entrance.

    (3) enhanced automation might keep you going through the low 30s tph, as intended but not yet in place for SSL, but does one trust it for 36 tph? Methinks that is not yet proven. Frequent repetition is wanted but no hesitation nor deviation. (Not Mornington Crescent, but another panel game).

    The potential scale of works for (2) should not be under-estimated. No doubt TfL will weigh up the relative benefits of different options.

  116. Ian Sergeant says:


    TfL attempted a bulldozer approach with LBC. It went to a public enquiry and they lost. Basically a scheme needs to allow the ‘shabby chic’ buildings within the triangle of Chalk Farm Road, Kentish Town Road and Buck Street. Option 1 does this, and even creates space by getting rid of the entrance to the deep tunnels.


    If you are going to have to invest in (1), then you might review the opportunity to address (2) at the same time, taking one construction hit rather than two, eg to get material in/out for (2), not least as any new platform(s) would also need to be connected to the second entrance.

    Absolutely, and as I have been saying for some considerable time. It has to be worth costing this option.

  117. Mark Townend says:

    For reliable automation of the junction, you have to keep the two lines synchronised so arrivals are timed to always coincide at Camden and hence the clever junctions can be used to their maximum potential. With two separate lines there is no need to do this. Although I think that synchronisation is perfectly possible, it still leaves the dependency that if delay occurs on one line despite the best efforts of automation, inevitably it will affect the other branches. That is completely avoided with total segregation.

  118. Malcolm says:

    Interdependence cuts both ways. With the present scheme, if the via-Bank branch is completely blocked, a (constrained) service can still be run on both northern branches.

    Whether it is better to have one line fail completely, or two lines drop to half-frequency, is left as an exercise for the reader…

  119. straphan says:

    @Malcolm: In the peak I think it would be better not to provide a service at all rather than provide half the frequency. Platforms at busier stations (Euston, King’s Cross, London Bridge, Waterloo) would fill up so quickly they would need to be shut fairly quickly anyway…

    Off-peak I guess it would make more sense to try providing some service across the board.

  120. timbeau says:

    Another constraint on synchronisatoin is that the Bank branch is much longer than the CX branch (although they both have nine intermediate stations). This means that any fluctuations in service level at Camden will get out of phase with each other at Kennington (and vice versa). Thus a train sent down the CX branch will get to Kennington some time before the gap it has left in the Bank branch service does.

  121. Mark Townend says:

    Some other ideas for Camden:

    1. Rebuild Mornington Crescent with platforms on the branch that doesn’t have them today to act as another, perhaps the primary interchange between completely segregated lines.

    2. Also with segregated lines, build a completely new interchange station between current Camden and Mornington Crescent platforms. Close existing entrances and platforms at both stations and establish two new entrances, Crossrail style, one at each end of the new station and each within a fairly short distance of the original station entrances.

    3. If integrated operation is perpetuated, consider PEDs and ‘aggressive’ dispatch protocols at Camden and surrounding stations on approach to reduce likelihood of dispatch or incursion incidents, ensure tighter station dwell duration and in turn help with the crucial junction synchronisation.

  122. Ian Sergeant says:


    From a lines on a map point of view the use of double ended platforms between Camden Town and Mornington Crescent makes sense. However, working in the conservation zone with Camden is difficult, and that solution would surely need a new station site for Mornington Crescent. It also doesn’t deal with the crowds for the market coming out on to the busy footpath.

  123. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @timbeau 16:58

    This will soon be completely irrelevant. It is irrelevant now off-peak because, as the diagram in the article shows, all off-peak Charing Cross branch trains terminate at Kennington. In reality there are also some first thing in the morning and last thing at night. There are only a few peak hour trains that go to and from Morden via the Charing Cross branch and I don’t think this has any relevance to their timetabling.

    No-one is contemplating separation before 2024 at the earliest. By then all trains on the Charing Cross branch will start from/terminate at Battersea or Kennington. On the Bank branch all trains will run to and from Morden.

  124. Henning Makholm says:

    After reading the entire thread I’m afraid I still have a good idea of what exactly is supposed to happen to Camden Town in 2024.

    Is the Carto Metro diagram right when it suggests that the platforms on each branch are above each other — but with the upper ones being southbound from Edgware and northbound to Barnet?

  125. Taz says:

    No mention here of effect on throughput of removal of CT points and speed restrictions.

  126. @JeffinLondon says:


    As one who used to live in flat in Camden Town I agree the markets hold little attraction. But… the markets are not for you or I nor for adult Londoners for that matter. It’s full of tourists from foreign lands, and teens from London.

    A few of the pubs are worth visiting and the lock area is always a lovely hangout on a summers day, but the rest is for the kids and the tourists.

  127. @JeffinLondon says:


    I can’t imagine electrical interlock systems of the 1950’s could deliver much in the way of “synchronizing” traffic through the complex interchange. Ensure safety yes, synchronizing trains, adjusting approach speeds, dwell times, etc? Unlikely.

    And yes of course, humans do throw software a wobbly now and then. As in all software the exception cases comprise 80% of the code and the “normal case” usually about 20%.

  128. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Henning 20:28

    I presume the first part was that you don’t have a good idea of what is supposed to happen to Camden Town in 2024. If you mean the station itself then join the crowd because, although tentative plans have been shown, work is ongoing. There are some indications in the link to “this presentation” – repeated here – but it really isn’t that obvious what is involved.

    If you mean what is happening at Camden Town as regards how the trains will operate then that is the big question and no decision has been made yet.

    Regarding the platforms, I did a link to a “famous diagram” – repeated here. As you can see if you look carefully, both southbound platforms have step-free access from the bottom of the escalator landing. The northbound platforms are situated obliquely beneath the southbound ones and require steps down. I cannot remember for certain whether or not you can get from one northbound platform to the other without going up the steps to the bottom escalator landing then down the other set of steps. I think you can via a separate passageway further to the north.

  129. Ian Sergeant says:


    Two passageways, one at the southern end where the tracks are close together, one at the northern end where the tracks are quite a way apart. I remember the trip at the southern end between the northbound platforms as being down a staircase, along a bit, then up another staircase. But I only do it late at night after a night out, so I may be wrong.

  130. Anonymous says:

    That makes sense. I still wish Camden Council would see the benefits of gentrification outside the market areas though. I was in the Chalk Farm area on Friday night and there are plenty of empty shops.

  131. Taz says:

    The assertion that half of passengers will need to change trains at CT if branches are split might be compared with half of northbound Bakerloo passengers needing to change at Baker Street for the Jubilee Line to Stanmore. Many passengers find other routes and interchanges, and over time move jobs or homes to suit the new travel arrangements.

  132. Malcolm says:

    Yes, that matches my memory. Both northbound platforms must be at the same level, because there is a crossover between the two tracks, not far away from the southern end of the platforms. Ditto for both southbound platforms (though at a different level from the northbound ones). (The other “missing” part of what might have been a diamond crossing, but isn’t, consists of a much longer grade-separated tunnel.)

    So the southbound to southbound passageways could be step-free. But they were not built that way (at least in the case of the southernmost link): they were built with a flight of steps up and a flight down, and the two passageways (linking the southbound and northbound platforms respectively) joining and resplitting between the flights. Presumably to make journeys between Golders Green and Finchley Central (famously costing 2/6) easier. With a full frequent 4-way service, for which the station was designed, that would actually be the biggest use of the interchange passages. (Plus people who got on the wrong train and had to turn back at Chalk Farm, typically including a teenage me).

    All in all a wonderful piece of heritage, but very expensive to improve on it, though I do agree that improvement is desirable.

    The longer link further north may or may not be level, I do not remember, and it may or may not be combined in some way with the foot of the escalators to/from the surface.

  133. Graham Feakins says:

    Camden Town today – Further to PoP’s description and e.g. Malcolm’s memories, which probably prove that even the most hardened enthusiast (including me!) does not often alight at Camden Town to go back the other way from the parallel platform on the same branch but we all remember the steps up and down, here is a web page worth hunting around:

    Click on the diagram to enlarge, and find the link from the “very old ‘see how they run’ website” he links to see the LT version when the works were first completed at the junctions south of the station.

  134. Graham Feakins says:

    @Malcolm – “Both northbound platforms must be at the same level, because there is a crossover between the two tracks, not far away from the southern end of the platforms” – but your assumption is not quite correct because, despite the crossover, the northbound Finchley route has a longer distance to reach the platform and, in so doing, rises to cross over the southbound tube from Edgware. See that diagram I just referred to. In fact, for convenience, here is the direct link:

  135. Taz says:

    The artists diagrams of CT junctions use some licence. Doug Rose’s Tiles of the Unexpected includes wonderful plans of the Yerkes stations. The lifts originally linked to a compromise height landing to the south with steps in each passage to all platforms. The escalators now link to the northbound(upper)level, which are therefore linked with a level passage midway along. To reach the southbound platforms requires steps down, and therefore a walk between both southbound platforms uses both sets of steps. The plans presented to Camden Council change none of this, but create a new ticket hall in Buck Street to the north of the platforms. Option one providses new escalators to link with a long level passage between both northbound platforms, and steps down to a level passage between the southbound platforms. There is also a link back up to the passages at the foot of the current escalators.

  136. timbeau says:

    “This (lack of synchronisation between branches because of their different lengths) will soon be completely irrelevant. ”

    It will still be an issue. Disruption in the southbound service from either northern branch will cause the trains to arrive out of sync so they fail to dovetail, causing trains on one or both northern branches to back up, and delay services to both the City and CX branches. This disruption will propagate down both tubes, but rebound from Kennington (or Battersea) much sooner than from Morden, causing two northbound waves of disruption to arrive back at Camden out of sync.

    On the question of levels, my recollection is that although all the northbound tunnels are at one level, and all the southbound tunnels at another slightly lower level, the difference in level is quite small, so if crossing between the southbound platforms you have to dip under the northbound Highgate line, and if crossing between the northbound platforms you have to climb over the southbound Edgware line

  137. straphan says:

    @timbeau: you could always mitigate this by turning late trains around earlier than planned. On the CX branch they will be able to run around the loop at Kennington rather than to Battersea, whereas on the Bank branch there are turnround sidings at Kennington and one of the Tooting stations (I keep forgetting which one…).

  138. timbeau says:

    Indeed, but a late train will delay everything behind it until it can be turned round, (not to mention the additoinal delay to following trains by the long rawn out process of having to tip out at Tooting Bdy or the shunting neck City trains have to use at Kennington).

    By that time, the damage is done.

    When a Barnet – City train is scheduled to arrive at Camden Town, there is likely to be an Edgware – City train scheduled in the opposite platform. Two minutes later, it’s the other way round. There should therefore be no conflict and they dovetail neatly. But if the Barnet-City train is two minutes late, instead of the Edgware – CX train it should be opposite, there will be an Edgware – City train. Clearly one of these City trains will have to wait for the other to clear, thereby backing up one or other of the northern branches, and either compounding the delays on the Barnet branch, or introducing delay to the Edgware branch. Either way, there will be Charing Cross trains held up in the queue as well as City trains, so the delays will spread to both branches south of Camden. Yes, separation at Kennington removes an additional complication, but only complete segregation will avoid disruption on one branch rapidly infecting the whole Northern Line network.

  139. Jim Cobb says:

    According to the 3D diagram on Geoff Marshalls excellent StationMaster app, the access at Camden town is as follows –

    At the northern end, from the escalator hall, there is level access to both Northbound platforms and 22 steps down to both southbound platforms.

    At the southern end of the platforms, there are corridors connecting all platforms to a central corridor, and there are the following steps from this corridor –
    – 11 steps up to the Northbound Edgware branch
    – 11 steps down to the southbound from the Edgware branch
    – 11 steps down to the southbound from High Barnet branch
    – 11 steps up to the Northbound High Barnet branch
    – 96 steps up emergency staircase to ground level

    So the Southbound platforms are lower than the northbound ones at both ends and all platforms appear to be level.

    Geoff Marshall surveyed all the stations on the network and so his maps are very accurate.

  140. Henning Makholm says:

    Okay, so the consensus is that the famous diagram is wrong (or artistically liberal) in that the complex of passageways and escalators it shows at the south end of the platforms actually exist at their north end? And in reality the south end has a different set of passageways, shown at Graham’s diagram and consistent with Jim Cobb’s description.

    In Graham’s diagram it looks like the southern passages are designed to facilitate transfers from one northern branch to the other, and they would need significant reconstruction in order to support easy (and conflict-free) transfer between northbounds (and southbounds) on a hypothetical future split Northern Line.

  141. Nick Biskinis says:

    Great to read and interesting comments, as I’d expect. The Clapham issue is in many respects worse than people realize: commuters have to wait for several trains to pass before cramming on in the most uncomfortable conditions of any train or commuter in Britain. The critical nature of the overcrowding between Clapham South and London Bridge is such that generic measures to boost capacity across the line – though of course very welcome, will always be limited. There needs to be a specific strategy.

    What is striking about the southbound Bank branch is that all trains seem to run to Morden, whereas other lines will run some trains only part of the way precisely in order to boast capacity along the most congested parts. So not all Central Line trains run to Epping, but some to Debden or Loughton; most Jubilee Line trains go to Stanmore/Stratford but some stop at Willesden Green or North Greenwich. The problem when the Northern was extended from Clapham Common to Morden was that the demand and capacity problems were not anticipated, especially of having in a busy area like Clapham full trains with 6 stations’ worth of commuters arriving. Add to that the island platform design for Clapham Common/North and the perennial problem is clear.

    Until 1971 Clapham Common had crossover tracks, and I read somewhere that when the 1995 Tube Stock was being introduced there was consideration about re-instating them and having trains terminate at Clapham Common in peaks in order to have ‘turn-back’ so that you could have empty northbound peak trains absorbing and clearing the bottlenecks right up to London Bridge.

    Though TfL have argued this means of course cutting some capacity south of Clapham Common, the fact is that those stations south of Balham are, though busy, not critically or dangerously overcrowded in the way the Claphams are. For by trying to provide an all-round 20% increase in capacity, this means that the capacity uplift is spread to thinly, so that those areas with the greatest need will not receive the increases needed to alleviate the worst problems. Clapham ‘turn-back’ at Clapham Common for some trains would provide a significant boost to morning capacity for the 2 stations with the worst crowding/safety issues whilst also benefiting busy station north of Clapham. This would give sustainable rather than temporary capacity boast above 30% and be far cheaper than rebuilding Clapham Common or Clapham North.

  142. AlisonW says:

    Picking up a few points about Camden Town, one of the many problem issues is that while the two northbound platforms are single-destination, the present southbound ones serve both branches, thus “cross-platform” isn’t straightforward (indeed to change southbound you have to go up a flight of stairs, across the landing, and down the other side’s flight of steps). Northbound are almost on the same level below ground and have a short-with-fewer-steps link at the southern end.

    Mornington Crescent can only serve one branch – the other (Bank) is over towards Regent Park at the equivalent position!

  143. Malcolm says:

    Henning Makholm: you are absolutely right that the “famous diagram” of Camden Town to which you link depicts the escalators wrongly.

    However, other “famous diagrams” may get it right. Part of the problem may be that, in addition to the models in people’s heads, there have been quite a few diagrams published over the years. I remember one in the Children’s encyclopedia, for instance. The diagrams tend to focus on the tube tunnels, and may well, in at least some cases, be a bit misleading when it comes to the foot tunnels.

  144. timbeau says:

    @Henning Makholm

    One glaring error in the “famous diagram” (the colour one) that appeared in the Eagle is the mislabelling of the Moorgate and Charing Cross lines.

    “Mornington Crescent can only serve one branch – the other (Bank) is over towards Regent Park at the equivalent position!”
    Is that so? Accurate information on where Undergrojund tunnels lie is notirously hard to come by, but both Carto Metro and Google maps (look for the very faint lines, not the coloured ones) suggest the two routes, which are most definitely parallel approaching Camden Town, come together close to Mornington Crescent.

    As far as I can tell, the City branch leaves Euston heading south of west, and curves round to the north, passing under the CX branch near the junction of Cobourg Street and Drummond Street (the CX branch to Warren Street follows the line of the latter) and then follows the Hampstead Road to its junction with Eversholt Street, which is just north of Mornington Crescent station. It doesn’t come within quarter of a mile of Regents Park.

  145. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Nick Biskinis,

    Nice idea and I suspect you won’t like my reply.

    This was all well and good in the old days when trains weren’t that frequent and the Office for Rail Regulation didn’t get paranoid about passengers being overcarried into sidings. Nowadays on frequent parts of tube lines any attempt to turn trains short of final terminus results in a substantial reduction in capacity. It is unworkable and things are going the other way. Witness a gradual elimination of Tower Hill as a turnback for regular use (despite having a third platform). Also note the desire (to be implemented in 2016) to have all Victoria Line trains running the entire length of the line. Note also that Central Line trains are no longer timetabled to terminate at Liverpool Street or Marble Arch. More critically this is one reason why trains no longer terminate at Tooting Broadway. The other reason is because of driver fatalities in the siding in the past but ATO should completely eliminate that so it is irrelevant now.

    The Central Line terminating trains at Debden is quite different. The line has thinned out a bit there and so it is possible without drastically reducing the service further along the line. It also saves a lot of mileage at the cost of not serving two stations – one a very quiet one. There is also the political element. We are well into Essex so no votes for the mayor are lost by terminating at the first reasonable opportunity.

    A propos of nothing, I cannot, off my head, think of a single two platform deep level tube station that is currently used more than occasionally to terminate trains short of the final terminus and send them back in the other direction. Note the careful wording so Seven Sisters and North Greenwich (3 platforms), Kings Cross on the Victoria Line (one or two trains a day so drivers retain route knowledge), Lambeth North (depot moves only) don’t count.

    Sadly the realistic short term solution to “the Clapham problem” is to simply close the station during the hours when it becomes unacceptably crowded. I am really surprised this hasn’t been resorted to already and suspect it is only because it is politically unacceptable and they want to maintain the illusion that the stations are open for business. If trains didn’t have to stop at these two stations you would have the equivalent of at least one extra train available to allocate in peak hours and shorter journey times for many people.

  146. Graham Feakins says:

    @PoP – I think you have missed the point Nick Biskinis was trying to make by concentrating your reply on the subject of reversing sidings. However, from memory, the Clapham Common crossover (a double one) was directly adjacent the north end of the island platform. There was certainly no turnback siding, so trains from the north simply reversed at the platform. By using stepping-back procedures, a reversing train could vacate whichever platform it was occupying (depending mainly upon how close the next train arriving at the station is) fairly swiftly and the only distress to the unwitting passenger would be shortly arriving back at Clapham North, which they had just passed!

    To take your other point, of simply closing the station during the hours when it becomes unacceptably crowded, seems to forget that, should that occur, then intending users will use Clapham South or Clapham North, depending upon how close to Clapham Common they are or want to be. Thus those two stations will be even more crowded than now. However, Clapham Common also serves a bus node, with several passengers transferring between the two on routes not parallel to the North and South stations, unless perhaps they travel further by bus by changing or otherwise and thus inconveniencing them in that way.

  147. Graham Feakins says:

    @PoP – as a P.S., your point about reversing at Tower Hill being reduced for (internal) operational reasons I believe is not so accurate.

    My understanding is that Tower Hill was a major reversing location simply because there was less passenger demand to the east and thus to extend trains beyond would be wasted mileage. Mansion House was formerly the chosen location for the same reason until Tower Hill was rebuilt. Now that the District Line is busier east of Tower Hill, of course it makes sense to extend trains beyond Tower Hill to serve the patronage on offer.

  148. Slugabed says:

    Nick Biskinis et al
    It was,it seems,ever thus….the plans for he “Express Northern Line”put forward not much more than 10 years after the Morden Extension opened,seemed designed to address this very problem (that of overcrowding North of Clapham South).
    Time to dust down he old plans (he says,tongue in cheek)?

  149. Taz says:

    I don’t see Clapham Common having its crossover relaid, which would require the cost of new trackwork and signalling and introduce further posibilities for failures. Drivers stepping back could speed reversal but would it always fit into its northbound path? Only when both directions were running as close to timetable. Otherwise it would delay the next northbound train or hold the next southbound train. The aim of 36tph requires the station to be cleared within 100 seconds. However, there is some hope of additional trains reversing at Tooting Broadway with platform staffing to ensure they are empty and ATO allowing a swift berthing in the short siding. This would allow the current reversing to continue at Morden unaltered, with push-in trains reversing at Tooting to make up the 36tph. Could it be done? Well the Jubilee plans to achieve that at the short West Hampstead siding, with push-in trains between there and North Greenwich for the Upgrade 2 World Class Capacity project by 2019, although they are not totally confident and have a 34.3tph fall back position (see November TfL Board meeting).

  150. Milton Clevedon says:

    @Nick Biskinis
    (and apologies to all for the length of this post)
    A challenging thought from Nick about reversing a tube service these days, that close in to town, albeit to address some specific station passenger handling and capacity issues.

    Irrespective of whether there are 2 or 3 platforms at the nominated reversing stations that sort of manoeuvre just isn’t preferred until a long way out of town these days, on most lines. Depot access and perturbations apart, it is only when a line itself happens to terminate close to town (eg Brixton) that such reversing is now accepted, with the entire service behaving the same way, and with TfL intending to remove much intermediate inner area reversing that does still exist (referenced above by PoP). This is because of the growth in tube travel from the suburbs.

    You cite the Jubilee Line at Willesden Green or North Greenwich, and the Central Line at Debden or Loughton. Well they may not look far on a tube diagram, but the inner examples are 5.0 and 5.6 miles, measured consistently from Charing Cross in a straight line, while Loughton is 12 miles on the same basis. On the Northern, Clapham Common is only 3.3 miles from Charing Cross.

    A more plausible Tooting Broadway reversal, where a siding exists, is 5.8 miles. However the high demand from stations south of Tooting also has to be addressed, which is why all Northern Line trains begin at Morden these days, and why that will stay so unless a highly efficient reversing strategy can be adopted at Tooting that keeps within the parameters required by a 36 tph service. See Taz’s comment on that.

    The relative distance traversed by each tube, matters in understanding where reversal generally starts to be worthwhile. Epping is equivalent in straight-line terms to 16.3 miles from Charing Cross. To be comparable, a Northern Line would have to run to Leatherhead… So of course some Central trains turn short, as the population density and demand reduce. The Northern only goes to Morden – 7¾ miles from Charing Cross – so equates with Leytonstone on the Central. Well there aren’t many trains reversing on the Central there, and none before, however unpleasant the intermediate station crowding.

    The (part-) solution for the Central? Crossrail 1, at Stratford (5.7 miles from Charing Cross), which indirectly relieves the Hainault via Newbury Park section of the Central, with Crossrail 1 services at Ilford etc.

    The (part-)solution for the Northern? Crossrail 2 is proposed, at Tooting Broadway (5.8 miles from Charing Cross), which indirectly will relieve parts of the Northern catchment, eg through passengers changing onto Crossrail 2 from the Morden-Tooting section.

    So the Northern’s south London corridor and the Central’s eastern corridor are in practice rather similar, in operating priorities, for an equivalent distance out, while the planned capacity solutions are similar.

    It so happens that because of historical shifts in tube authorisation priorities, more Northern Line inner suburbs have the benefit of a local tube station (justified in Victorian/Edwardian circumstances), than the Central’s eastern inner suburbs when destinations further afield and faster journeys became a higher priority for that 1930s-40s tube extension. Fewer suburban tube stations has been the policy ever since. So hang onto Clapham North however packed the trains, they aren’t building stations so close together these days!

    Back to the high demand from Tooting Broadway and places south. Perhaps this is the core of the problem. Reversing a few trains at Tooting against a 36 tph tide might just be possible, though with Crossrail 2 the extra passenger interchange volumes will militate against that, as seconds will count (and CR2 should itself give some net relief to passengers boarding at Clapham stations).

    The Northern has the inestimable duty (or burden) to convey passengers from Morden railhead and from intermediate catchments along the A24 corridor. For comparison with the Central, substitute the M11 railhead at Redbridge and the bus railheads at Gants Hill and Newbury Park, and the inner parts of the A11 and A12 corridors.

    Sadly the Northern has a further, and unwanted, duty, to provide the rail alternative to the suburbs served by the poor man’s hand-me-down from the 1920s Southern Railway/UERL deal, the Thameslink route via the Wimbledon-Sutton loop, which opened in 1929. This is limited to low-frequency 8-car trains in perpetuity unless someone can undo that gordian knot, and no one currently seems willing.

    The comparative results in this day and age? In 2013 the Northern Line on its own at Morden saw 7.7 million passengers entry/exit. The combined station group from Morden to Tooting Broadway inclusive saw 30.8 million, with the largest by far being Tooting Broadway at 13.5 million. If you are going to make a direct hit on passenger capacity on the Northern with Crossrail 2, then Tooting is the place to do it.

    Thameslink stations already exist at West Sutton, Sutton Common, St Helier, Morden South, South Merton (all five are Morden railhead zones), then, ignoring Wimbledon, at Wimbledon Chase, Haydons Road and Tooting BR (as used to be on bus blinds). In total during 2013-14 these 8 stations saw only a cumulative 3.5 million passengers entry/exit in the entire year (3.0m in 2012-13), regardless of where they travelled.

    Worse, only 107,000 and 183,000 at the two stations only a ½ mile from Morden, Morden South and South Merton. This is a serious order of magnitude differential, with 98.6% and 97.6% fewer passengers than their tube neighbour. ORR numbers of course, sorry about that, but even if you added 50% to make them righter, it would still be only something over 5 million a year for the 8 Thameslink stations. The reality is that National Rail is failing in this neck of suburbia, with overall just a sixth to a tenth of the tube’s volume.

    Maybe this should be an area of integrating opportunity and thinking across the rail and tube systems. Turn the problem round. Could Thameslink in a locally reconfigured format become a practical “Northern Line relief” at Tooting and south? The killer at present is a combination of lack of marketing (not that that stops the peak trains there are being full), local line frequency, and Central London access, where London Bridge, and Blackfriars and north aren’t the strongest meats as destinations. Certainly extra trains would need Central London access – maybe Victoria SE platforms via Herne Hill would be practical? Or a larger reconfiguration of the South London network spaghetti?

    A serious attack on Thameslink service shortcomings via the Wimbledon Loop could reap useful benefits for Northern Line capacity and TfL, regardless of the niceties of the Class 700 PFI agreement being discussed elsewhere in LR columns. (Though perhaps TfL is relying a little on the Northern Line pressures to help make the case for Crossrail 2 ?) Shame TfL isn’t in charge of the Wimbledon Loop and some other South London routes, isn’t it? Perhaps things could change, when GTR comes up for refranchising and new specifications, in the early 2020s.

    Sadly, the aspiration to take a new Tramlink line from Sutton to South Wimbledon sounds as though it could cause further capacity grief for the Northern, rather than disgorging passengers onto the under-used (and no doubt under-liked) present and future Thameslink service. Presumably a tram to Tooting Broadway (which has been studied) might offer some wider connectivity in due course with Crossrail 2 – and it might also serve Tooting BR.

    So no easy solutions here, but maybe the rudiments of a different, more joined-up review of issues in this part of suburbia.

  151. Anonymous says:

    Just to give some praise to MC for an excellent comment, emphasising the complexities of public transport planning South of the River.

  152. Greg Tingey says:

    At the position of Mornington Crescent station, the west (City) branch is actually under Mornington Terrace – approximately the full-width of Euston station – away.

    Can I alter your quote, ever so slightly?
    Sadly the realistic short term solution to “the Camden Town problem” is to simply close the station during the hours when it becomes unacceptably crowded.
    Cough …..
    Actually @ the Claphams, would it be practicable to have them unidirectional for passengers in the peaks, or would that be too complicated, operationally in terms of flow management?

    – if you are going to do that then it will become CR4 won’t it?

    Milton Clevedon
    This is limited to low-frequency 8-car trains in perpetuity unless someone can undo that gordian knot, and no one currently seems willing. The answer to that, as well all know is money – to get an extra platform back in to Wimbledon, so that the constraint on operating the single-track section there is no longer with us.
    I agree that terminating the “loopers” at Blackfriars would also help, but that is a “political” problem.

  153. @Graham Feakins,

    To take your other point, of simply closing the station during the hours when it becomes unacceptably crowded, seems to forget that, should that occur, then intending users will use Clapham South or Clapham North, depending upon how close to Clapham Common they are or want to be

    This is indeed a major problem not just here but throughout the tube network. In the Clapham situation it is a case of a lesser of two evils but if it gets to the point where the reality is hardly anyone can board at the Clapham stations you are only formalising what is already happening and providing faster journeys and effectively an extra train.

    My big fear is that one day parts of the tube go into meltdown. This is one of the reasons behind the importance of the Bank upgrade. The danger is an overcrowded Bank leads to having to close Moorgate and maybe even London Bridge. If you close London Bridge you almost certainly have to close Borough and there is the risk that this propagates. I don’t think people realise how far reaching this could be. If Epping closes (as once happened due to public address system not functional) then Theydon Bois can’t cope with everyone driving there and that has to be be closed as well.

    This is one reason why stations have to be rebuilt way beyond their existing capacity. There have to be some stations that can “take it” regardless otherwise the only option may be line closure – as was at one stage contemplated for the entire Bank branch during the Bank works. I am amazed we haven’t had more problems on the Central Line with a year’s closure of Tottenham Court Road (adjacent stations Oxford Circus and Holborn – the latter already coping with extra Covent Garden traffic).

  154. @Greg,

    Actually @ the Claphams, would it be practicable to have them unidirectional for passengers in the peaks, or would that be too complicated, operationally in terms of flow management?

    I thought about that but suspect there would be too much back tracking with people making a journey south to go north. Human behaviour often outwits rational planning. What puzzles me is that I suspect this already happens but hasn’t been mentioned. If it does then all the more reason to close the stations in peak times rather than add congestion to two stations.

  155. @Graham Feakins re Tower Hill

    Your points are valid but off-peak terminations at Tower Hill have the added complication that a lot of people don’t get off at Monument, as advised, to catch a further train eastwards. They then arrive, lost, on the middle platform and have to find their way to the eastbound platform which causes congestion and disgruntled passengers. So, as passenger numbers increase, the situation becomes unworkable but for different reasons.

  156. timbeau says:

    @Graham F
    “My understanding is that Tower Hill was a major reversing location simply because there was less passenger demand to the east and thus to extend trains beyond would be wasted mileage.”
    Isn’t capacity across Minories and Aldgate Junctions a factor?

    As for the contrast in passnegr demand between the Northern Line and the Thameslink loop, I fear that even if the latter were to appear on the Tube map, its circuitous nature and slow end-to-end times caused by the nmerous flat junctions will be more than enough to keep people flooding to the Northern Line.

    Running the Sutton – St Helier – Wimldeon leg as a branch of CR2 might do more to relieve the Northern Line than connecting CR2 to Tooting.

    If enough trains are available to run the line at maximum capacity all the way to Morden, reversing a few trains at Tooting cannot improve capacity north of there.

  157. Anomnibus says:

    Re. Clapham South / Common:

    The distance between the two stations might just be enough to justify using a TBM to dig a new running tunnel alongside the “up” tunnel. You can then use the same technique applied to Angel and London Bridge: infill the old “up” station platforms and knock through to the new platform. The infilled platform becomes an expanded circulation space.

    On the other hand, the line does skirt the edge of Clapham Common between those two stations, so cut-and-cover might be a better choice instead, despite the temporary inconveniences it would cause.

  158. timbeau says:

    “On the other hand, the line does skirt the edge of Clapham Common between those two stations, so cut-and-cover might be a better choice instead”

    1. That would be quite a deep trench!

    2. The two stations with island platforms are Clapham Common and Clapham North: the line skirts the Common between Clapham Common and Clapham South.

    The problem with a TBM woiuld be finding a launch site for it – although a big temporary shaft in the Common is probably as good a site as any. Retrieving it from Clapham North might be a challenge though – you’d probably have to take it back out through the tunnel it had just dug – in bits.

    PEDs might be a cheaper solution.

  159. Anomnibus says:

    Ah, oops. I thought it was Common and South stations, not Clapham North. That does make using the common a bit tricky.

    Don’t Clapham Common and Clapham South have old WW2 bunkers beneath / around them? Even if they’ve been sold off to storage companies, it may still be cheaper to buy them back and use them to improve the stations, either simply as works accesses, or possibly even diverting the trains into them and digging out a new, wider, circulation area between them through the old platform area.

  160. Anonymous says:

    @Anomnibus – there are indeed tunnels running parallel to Clapham South and Clapham Common, see here, unfortunately as I understand it they are below rather than directly parallel to the existing tunnels.

    The first semi-public tour of the Clapham South tunnels is taking place in a few weeks, a good reason in itself to join Subterranea Brittanica. More tours have been promised. It’s where crayonistas meet reality.

  161. Anonymous says:

    Here’s a diagram of one of the deep tunnel shelters (and it seems to be broadly right, given the layout of the Clapham stations) showing the running tunnels lying about the shelter tunnels

    PS Anomnibus, I didn’t mean that you are a crayonista!

  162. timbeau says:

    “unfortunately as I understand it they are below rather than directly parallel to the existing tunnels”

    Why would that matter? there are several stations where the platforms for the same line are at different levels: e.g St Pauls, Chancery Lane, Holborn (Picc), South Ken (Picc), Westminster (Jub) even, as has been mentioned, Camden Town

  163. Anonymous says:

    @timbeau – only an issue in relation to the suggestion of doing something similar to Angel or London Bridge with a new running tunnel and wider platforms. I’m not an engineer, evidently, but I’d imagine the work required to route trains into the lower tunnels would be much greater than creating a new tunnel on the same level.

    And coming back on topic, wider platforms still wouldn’t solve the problem of capacity on the trains themselves. As someone who does commute up to Clapham Common before hopping on a bus or walking (if not cycling direct) the concept of station closure / unidirectional flow would be a significant pain. You can please all of the people, etc.

  164. Twopenny Tube says:

    @Anonymous 16:41 and 16:51
    The captions to the Subterranea Britannica pictures remind us that crayons were out with a view to possible post-war use of the deep level shelters (there were others along the Northern Line besides the ones mentioned in the above discussion, I am sure covered in previous LR articles and contributions) for a north-south express route. For those who are (justifiably) sceptical about internet sources, there is corroboration in print form, namely articles in Railway Magazine Sept 1941, and Sept/Oct 1944.

    The 1941 article, by Charles E Lee gives a fascinating account of the practical issues involved in ensuring safety and welfare for the many people using the tunnels and stations as shelters.

  165. timbeau says:

    “only an issue in relation to the suggestion of doing something similar to Angel or London Bridge with a new running tunnel and wider platforms. I’m not an engineer, evidently, but I’d imagine the work required to route trains into the lower tunnels would be much greater than creating a new tunnel on the same level. ”

    Routing a new tunnel to connect with an existing one at a lower level shouldn’t be significantly harder than routing it around the existing station tunnel to the side.

  166. Taz says:

    The Claphams are not in the list of reconstructions due by 2050 see above: Some 24 stations in 35 years or one every 18 months. I presume any developer willing to double-end a station would be welcome, but line divertions are expensive.

  167. AlisonW says:

    timbeau – yes, I’m afraid I was using some slight artistic licence. Given the right of ways issues I’d anticipate that the Bank branch is beneath Hampstead Road and that the CX branch follows Eversholt Street, however OpenStreetmap (which is usually well-sourced) shows the Bank side of things reaching* the Regents Park estate.


  168. AlisonW says:

    Reading all these suggestions of unidirectional stations and partial closures it does remind me that the guaranteed way to ensure no services are delayed at any time is to, um, not run any. Would save on maintenance and staffing too.

    (Where’d I put that coat?)

  169. Taz says:

    @ Taz 21 January 2015 at 22:18 A station reconstruction every 18 months sounds impressive, but 24 stations by 2050 won’t make a dent on the need. I couldn’t find a figure for sub-surface stations, but I estimate around 120. They are the ones with most overcrowding and expensive to fix. So at that rate could all be fixed by the year 2190!

  170. Greg Tingey says:

    Just because it’s sub-surface, does not mean it is going to be overcrowded & busy to the point of needing a rebuild. I give you:
    Stepney Green, Holloway Road, Arnos Grove, Redbridge, Wanstead, Gant’s Hill, S. Wimbledon … as starter-examples.

  171. Slugabed says:

    I’d strike Holloway Rd off of your list,Greg…Not only is it the local station for the Metropolitan University and numerous (and increasing) numbers of student residences,and “rabbit-hutch” affordable housing, it is also the nearest station to the 60,000-seater? Emirates Stadium.
    So inadequate is its access that it is closed whenever there is an event there.
    Despite Arsenal having promised to lavish millions on improving the station, nothing was done and a supine local planning authority did nothing more than tug a grateful forelock to the new Lords of the manor.
    It is my nearest station btw, so I feel entitled to moan.

  172. @Slugabed,

    To add to that it has just two very inadequate lifts and a heavily used spiral staircase.

  173. Slugabed says:

    ONE very inadequate lift,at the moment…

  174. Malcolm says:

    And Greg might need a reminder that Arnos Grove is not very subsurface either…

  175. Greg Tingey says:

    – oops, did I mean Holloway Rd? Or has the demographic changed that much round there recently?
    I still assume that the ex-Woolwich team are using “Gillespie Rd” of course.
    Oh bum – I meant the Picc line station that is in tunnel, with open air on both sides … err …. Southgate.
    [ Only one stop out! ]

  176. c says:

    Greg – they built the Emirates which Arsenal station is no longer the most convenient for. They encourage Highbury & Islington and Finsbury Park (being bigger and with options) but Holloway Road is closest, excluding Drayton Park which they close (or is closed anyway as on weekends, but that is changing.)

    Neither of the latter two stations is equipped to handle the volumes. Holloway Road is also busy due to London Met uni.

  177. Taz says:

    Greg – I only wished to indicate the scale of the problem, and not the details. The worst problems are with the original tube stations that remain unmodified, and no doubt there are some quiet ones which could be moved to the end of the programme. They all need alternative fire exits, by perhaps double-ending, with level lift access. So a station reconstruction every 18 months should see them all fixed by 2190. Given recent growth rates, they will probably all need improvements by then! You could reduce my 120 count by some recently reconstructed stations, Kings Cross, the Jubilee Extension etc. Halve it and they can be done by the end of the century!

  178. Enver says:

    @Milton Clevedon, re: overcrowding in south of London

    I feel that the GN locals between New Barnet and Highbury & Islington could relieve some of the pressure from Picc line/Vic line passengers who want to go to stations on the Bank branch. Unfortunately, the Moorgate services are very infrequent and I have to always use NR Enquiries to guess if I’m going to make it to New Southgate on time. And I have to use my maps app to check where I am, because when it’s dark, the signs are difficult to see!

    Improving the GN locals by making them more frequent and new trains which actually announce the names of the stations, will likely reduce the overcrowding on the Picc/Vic lines at peak times, as well as relieving some of the pressure on the Bank branch.

    The same things apply in North London too.

  179. Anonymous says:

    Regarding extending the Battersea branch to Clapham Junction, where do we imagine the actual terminus to be? Will it be a proper Underground station outside the unbridled lunacy that is Clapham Junction mainline station? Or will the Northern Line trains erupt onto new platforms there? Is there enough room in Clapham Yard in the middle to construct two new platforms? We’d have to call them A and B to avoid disrupting the existing numbering system.

  180. Graham H says:

    @Anonymous – I think the one thing you could say for sure about the possible – stress possible and as yet unplanned – Northern line station at CJ is that it won’t be on the surface. Clapham yard is much too important to be discarded and why would you want to surface any way? It will be downstairs where its operation and construction are not disruptive -if it ever happens at all. And downstairs leaves open the option of even more crayonista extensions, which would be out of the question if it terminated on the surface.

  181. Taz says:

    London Infrastructure Plan 2050 had CJ by 2045 “dependent on the Crossrail 2 case”. What does that mean? CJ only if CR2 goes ahead, or only if it doesn’t? Anyway, 30 years off so early in planning terms.

  182. Jim AA says:

    Apologies if I’ve missed this somewhere in the article or comments, but has any rationale been given for swapping the northern termini during morning peak hours in the latest timetable? In other words, why do trains from Morden via Bank now go to Edgware instead of High Barnet?

  183. Anonymous says:

    @Graham H – My comment was somewhat tongue-in-cheek. I change at Clapham Junction twice a day, five days a week and wish it ran better. But of course I travel at peak time; the station may run a good deal better during the day. I would love to see traffic diverted away from mainline services because they are very crowded. [Rest of the comment snipped for crayon instigation.

    Anonymous, we don’t want to put you off but we impose conditions to all to try and avoid ending up with lots of comments of unrealistic opinions on line extensions that take us away from fact based discussions. LBM]

  184. Snowy says:

    @Jim AA

    Answers can be found in the recent article by PoP on the northern line timetable changes

  185. Snowy says:

    Ooops, sorry, thought I was reading a different thread!

  186. Anonymous says:

    Apologies for the crayons.

  187. Savoy Circus says:

    There is a possible site for a new station on the Wimbledon Loop where Tooting High Street (A24) passes over the line.
    With platforms extending westwards from the road bridge there could be very good access to St George’s Hospital. The site is midway between Tooting Broadway and Colliers Wood Underground stations and might relieve some overcrowding if an improved train service could be offerred

  188. Anomnibus says:

    @Anonymous (and others), re. WW2 bunker tunnels:

    After looking into it further, I’m not sure reusing the WW2 structures is a viable option. The tunnels would require serious work to bring them up to modern standards, and at Clapham North, they’re not that much further apart than the Northern Line station’s own tunnels, so side platforms would be needed.

    I suspect this is one reason why TfL, and their predecessors, haven’t already applied the “Angel solution” to either station as yet, despite the obvious issues with those narrow platforms.

    It may well be easier, and cheaper, to replace both stations with a new one somewhere between the two.

  189. Taz says:

    @ Anomnibus – I have to agree that despite the deep shelter tunnels providing some 1,200 feet of potential running tunnel beneath each Clapham station, it is likely that other costs will price them out of contention. They are deeper than the rail tunnels, and any diversion must therefore be longer to allow for a reasonable gradient down and later back up. A third of their length will need to be opened up to provide platform space, and being at a lower level there will need to be new escalator access provided. As well as step-plate junctions at each end, a new tunnel will need to be driven between the shelter tunnels. The option of dealing with each station separately will not be practical.

    The option of replacing two stations with one double-ended one doesn’t look like a goer to me. The current stations are located at busy road junctions providing important bus interchanges, and are too far apart to be reached from one set of platforms. Anyway, the Angel / Euston solution only requires a new platform in one direction, which would further add to the confusions of this solution. So I think the likely future is as Angel with a new parallel running tunnel and new platform at the same level and linked to the current island platform to use current access routes. There would then be an option of dealing with each station separately to spread the cost, although the cost of a longer new running tunnel between the two stations would probably save two step-plate junctions between them and therefore work out as the cheapest solution.

  190. timbeau says:


    “The current stations ……………are too far apart to be reached from one set of platforms. ”

    The separation is similar to that between St pancras and Euston, or Liverpool Street and Moorgate, or Farringdon and Barbican – all planned for double-ended stations. Admittedly Crossrail platforms will be longer than Northern Line ones.

    But it would seem a bit short-sighted to replace two stations with one busy platform each by one station with two platforms. Indeed, given the tidal nature of the passenger flows, having only one platform for the peak flow instead of sharing it between both as at present might actually make the crowding worse.

    The Crayonista in me wonders whether Crossrail 2 should serve Balham and Clapham proper, instead of Tooting and Clapham Junction.

  191. One has to be careful applying the Crossrail principle of double-ending to the Northern Line. Crossrail is built for 11 x 22.5m carriages – OK, technically it was built for 12 x 20m carriages. The Northern Line has six car trains of 17.77m so basically 107m long trains in one case and 247.5m long trains in the other.

    There is also the case that Clapham Common feels right as the logical place to put a station entrance. With 21st century hindsight it would be good if at least one entrance of Clapham North is co-located with Clapham High St station as this is a potentially useful interchange – but only if you can actually get on the trains.

  192. timbeau says:

    I did say “Admittedly Crossrail platforms will be longer than Northern Line ones.”

    There is another point, as well – the Crossrail platforms will be considerably deeper than the Northern Line – simply because the Northern Line got there first, but Crossrail has to burrow under several other lines. That means that the horizontal distance covered by the Crossrail escalators is much longer, and so the platforms more likely to be half way between two entrances some distance apart.

  193. Malcolm says:

    Double ending does exist on the historic tube lines, but it is rare. Knightsbridge is an example. It only became a sensible concept after escalators became general; most deep tube stations were designed around lifts, which normally go straight up and down.

  194. timbeau says:

    Earls Court is an example of a double-ended station. Farringdon and Bank also have multiple entrances served from different exits off the platform. Some of the more complex ones like Kings Cross probably count as well.

  195. timbeau says:

    “Given the right of ways issues I’d anticipate that the Bank branch is beneath Hampstead Road and that the CX branch follows Eversholt Street, however OpenStreetmap (which is usually well-sourced) shows the Bank side of things reaching the Regents Park estate.”

    This has been discussed over on District Dave.
    The presence of access shafts (now backfilled) for the construction work on the City branch extension dropped BETWEEN the CX tunnels near Mornington Crescent would suggest that Google has it right and OSM have, for once, got it wrong.

  196. Graham Feakins says:

    @ Taz 21 January at 06:52 – Your comment here: “I don’t see Clapham Common having its crossover relaid, which would require the cost of new trackwork and signalling and introduce further posibilities for failures.” rather seems to contradict your later comment (below) a couple of days ago on the Sub-surface timetable topic, does it not?

    “According to a notice to staff this week, the long awaited programme to upgrade SSL track layouts in preparation for resignalling ……. with the installation of a new high-speed scissors crossover west of King’s Cross to replace the trailing crossover east of the station. The intention is to improve service resilience, with a capacity to reverse over 20tph east to west from the two platforms after commissioning early next year.”

    In view of that, maybe a scissors crossing could be reinstalled at Clapham Common after all, despite your fears.

  197. Graham Feakins says:

    P.S. The only aspect I would be wary of is reference to “high-speed”, where they really mean line-running speed, viz. anything above 25mph or so.

  198. Taz says:

    @ Graham: Others talked of Clapham Common for scheduled reversing to boost the service. Works at King’s Cross SSL are to improve emergency reversal facilities, have been long planned as part of the ongoing line upgrades, and are also intended at other locations. The Clapham Common crossover was used for emergency reversal until relocated in 1976 to Stockwell to make use of the new Victoria Line connection for passengers there. So it has been absent from Clapham for near forty years with no talk of replacement, and the Line Upgrade is complete and fully commissioned. King’s Cross provides passengers with a choice of alternative rail routes, and has been often used for un/scheduled closures, most recently for Crossrail works at Farringdon.

  199. @Graham Feakins,

    I have to say I did think that Taz was talking about an entirely different scenario – that of emergency reversal facilities rather than ones in regular use and there really was no mutual relevance.

    One of the factors now considered when taking out reversing facilities is “would you want the trains to terminate here?” If not, then any benefit (if there is any in the Clapham Common case) has to be offset against the operation and resilience risk of having points that needed to be maintained and functional before any trains can run. Modern LU practice is to plain line track as soon as a set of points does not justify its existence (e.g. St Mary’s junction for the East London Line, facing points on the Victoria Line at Warren Street and Victoria).

    In the case of many locations on the underground, reversing points have been taken out because you wouldn’t want to reverse trains there in an emergency due to that fact that the local infrastructure is entirely unsuited to disperse the crowds, within and beyond the station itself, if it were to be a temporary terminal station. A classic case is Covent Garden which many suggest should never have been removed but I cannot see how nowadays you can terminate trains there with only four lifts available at the best of times. It would be hard to think of a worse case – no it wouldn’t – Clapham Common with its narrow island platform!

  200. timbeau says:

    Until 1926 ALL trains reversed at Clapham Common!

  201. Pedantic of Purley says:

    And that’s why the crossover tunnel is there! It is purely an accident of history. Not the best basis therefore for deciding whether or not it is suitable place to terminate trains today.

    Note that the early history of the City & South London Railway is one of building the line, discovering the the middle class city workers had moved further out, extending the line only to find they have moved further out and so extending the line again. It was a case of extending to capture what traffic was available. There wasn’t an issue of being able to cope with the sheer number of passengers which is the current issue.

  202. Melvyn says:

    @Ronnie B 18 jan – Angel and Highbury and Islington Stations both used to have lifts when I was a kid but in both cases none went from street to platform and were of the large type still to be found at Bank Station which also don’t go to platform.

    The real problem was that early pioneers were concerned about claims for compensation from property owners above the line and where narrow streets existed stations had to be squeezed into a narrow space . A problem prevalent on the Central Line where there is little room for escalators or lifts between platforms . Although work at Bond Street and TCR to re profile platforms as part of Crossrail upgrade show a way forward for other stations !

    It’s crazy that removal of island platforms in Clapham area is not included in Mayors 2050 plans .

  203. Melvyn says:

    @ Greg T You count me as a Londoner who finds Camden Town a dump full of migrants from Chelsea !

    Worth noting that their MP Frank Dobson also opposes HS2 yet it offers an opportunity to clear who area from Euston Road to Camden Town with modern 21st Century stations .

    I am still surprised why Mornington Crescent Station is still open given how close it is to Camden Town !

  204. timbeau says:

    “A problem prevalent on the Central Line where there is little room for ……………… lifts between platforms”
    This would also have required the station building to be in the middle of the street!
    Solved at some stations, like St Pauls and Chancery Lane, by having the platforms one above the other, and separate lift landings. For different reasons (viz, they were designed to be junctions) South Kensington and Holborn have platforms one above the other, and separate lift landings serving them.

    “surprised why Mornington Crescent Station is still open ”
    It was because of how crowded Camden Town was getting that it was eventually reopened in 1998, after five and a half years in mothballs.

    Incidentally, the reason “Mornington Crescent” is the name of the game on “I’m Sorry I haven’t a Clue” is probably because it can be confusingly difficult to get to: not only can the uninitiated pass from Euston to Camden Town without passing through it at all, but until 1966 half the trains that did pass through (those to and from Edgware) didn’t call – and for many years it was closed completely at weekends. Although the situation was a little less confusing by the time ISIHAC first broadcast in 1978, it still that reputation

  205. Malcolm says:

    @timbeau Are you sure that Concerning Torments was skipped by Edgeware line trains? I used to use the Northern line a lot (not usually the Edgeware branch), and I never saw any notices or warnings of such a skip.

  206. timbeau says:

    From CULG – see under “Services”

    “From 1925-09-28 to 1966-10-17, trains to and from the Edgware branch via Charing Cross did not stop at Mornington Crescent.”

    Here was a not-entirely-successful early-sixties attempt to represent this service pattern
    (also shows Beck’s idea for promoting the Victoria Line by rearranging everything else to make it look straight)

  207. Taz says:

    I can’t recall any notices about Mornington Crescent, but few people used it and would have presumably been in the know. Unlike the modern era when there are so many notices about everything that it can be confusing.

    @ Pedantic of Purley 1 February 2015 at 09:38 Central Line trains can detrain at Holborn to reverse at British Museum siding, and it would be helpful if the Piccadilly Line could detrain at Holborn to reverse at Covent Garden during line closures. Leicester Square could be the detrainment point eastbound for Covent Garden reversal, avoiding overcrowding that station’s lifts but keeping some central area service going.

  208. Malcolm says:

    Thanks timbeau. On reflection, I suppose there was no need for special notices; presumably the track diagrams at stations on the via-Charing-Cross section and on the Edgware branch just did not depict Morningtown. The diagrams on the trains could well have been laid out like the Beck map you point to. If so, I was obviously not as observant as I thought I was.

  209. Taz says:

    On the Edgware branch platform signage may not have shown MornCr, but I am pretty sure it was shown as any other station on the line diagrams inside trains and on the platform signage in town.

  210. ngh says:

    Re timbeau,

    1 February 2015 at 14:14
    Thanks, The I’m sorry I haven’t a clue game now make much more sense knowing that! The potential lottery of 2 coin tosses vs just 1 to get there with potential peak and off peak difference thrown in as well sounds suitably more confusing than the present situation
    (I’m one of the younger generation that can remember it reopening in the late 1990s but have no recollection of it beforehand)

  211. Taz says:

    It may be that northbound platform destination indicators through the West End had a small notice hanging beneath to say “For MorCr take a Barnet line train”. The more I think of it the clearer I can see them!

  212. @Taz 19:17

    Fair point about using Covent Garden Crossover but terminating at Holborn or Leicester Square. It would make even more sense once Holborn was rebuilt and could better handle the crowds – I appreciate it must be able to do so already to some extent when used for Central Line trains.

    It would be interesting to see if the crossover gets reinstated as part of the Piccadilly Line resignalling.

  213. Taz says:

    Covent Garden signalling originally allowed for trains to reverse from Holborn eastbound back over the crossover – the Aldwych shuttle would return this way to depot. Leicester Square is so close on the westbound that the same could be done from there back east and over the crossover. And linking to Mornington Crescent, I recall that the booking office there closed early in its history, and the liftman sold tickets just as at Aldwych. An indication of low passenger traffic there. Other lift stations where this happened were soon closed.

  214. Taz says:

    Douglas Rose “Tiles of the Unexpected” reliable station plans shows the City branch tunnels beneath Hampstead Road closer to the Mornington Crescent lift shafts than the West End branch platforms. We would visit family on the Edgware branch, and my parents thought MorCr station closed as we always passed through without stopping and there was never anyone on the platforms. The 1938 stock lighting was much stronger than the few octagonal platform lights and so one looked at ones own reflection in the glass and barely saw the white tiles of another ‘ghost’ station like British Museum, or Chancery Lane on a Sunday. The Northern Line also passes closer to Lambeth North lift shafts than the Bakerloo Line platforms.

  215. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – I looked at the case, under the PPP Capability measure / incentive, to see if the crossover could be reinstated at Covent Garden. The then Line GM certainly wanted it reinstated if only to aid resilience and service recovery in the event of a signalling / train breakdown in the central area. The lack of turnback facilities means line suspensions on the Picc are massively disruptive. The relatively poor control room facilities, since improved a bit with the Centralised Train Following System (CTFS), also made service recovery difficult and prolonged. The Picc is fine when it runs well but any breakdown is disproportionately disruptive. I couldn’t make a case that would cover the investment cost but I suspect LU will look at things differently nowadays even though Journey Time Capability is / was a LU measure and LU set the relative weightings / values in the model.

    I completely take your point about there being no value in detraining people where there are no connections / limited ability to cope but I can certainly see the value of adding emergency turn back crossings and / or sidings if it gives a more “rounded” set of tools for line controllers to work with (regardless of the underlying technology). I would be a little bit surprised if the remaining line upgrades see a mass of such facilities removed. The crucial test will be who wins the resignalling of the Picc Line and how / whether it can interface with whatever ends up being deployed on the Sub Surface network (west of Barons Court plus west of Rayners Lane).

  216. Graham Feakins says:

    @PoP (and Taz) – “I have to say I did think that Taz was talking about an entirely different scenario – that of emergency reversal facilities rather than ones in regular use and there really was no mutual relevance.” and “…reversing points have been taken out because you wouldn’t want to reverse trains there in an emergency due to that fact that the local infrastructure is entirely unsuited to disperse the crowds, within and beyond the station itself, if it were to be a temporary terminal station” – but were we not discussing using Clapham Common as a reversing point during the high a.m. peak, by using near-empty trains from the north to relieve the intending northbound crowd on the platform and at stations north?

    It does not matter to what purpose the crossover is used, either it can be done, e.g. as demonstrably at King’s Cross or it, apparently, cannot at Clapham Common for the reasons that Taz first describes (cost, complication etc.). So much for flexibility in our railed transport system! And I thought that the need to obtain a Parliamentary Order
    to divert a Bournemouth trolleybus route to follow the line of a new roundabout was the extreme; until the Order was obtained the trolleybuses had to travel in both directions along the original route around what became one side of the roundabout, whilst the rest of the traffic used it as designed.

    BTW, I am sure there was no crossover tunnel as such at Clapham Common because, as I explained, the crossover was located at and within the north end of the station tunnel itself.

  217. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham F – surely it is nothing to do with “flexibility” if we’re talking about Clapham Common? It’s down to whether there is any point in stalling the Northern Line peak service to allow a train to terminate, have the driver change ends and then head north again. Given a 90-120 second headway on the line from Morden in the peaks it’s going to be impossible to turn a train and not cause a knock on delay. If there was a bay platform and a central road as at North Greenwich then I’d agree with you that there would be a clear benefit in having a few trains start at CC to act as jambusters.

  218. Anomnibus says:

    Returning to the thorny issue of the Two Claphams: if TfL are going to be adapting each and every one of their stations to meet their “Step-Free” criteria, then these two must be on that list somewhere. Presumably, when their numbers come out of the hat, that’s when TfL will have to get the shovels out, whether they want to or not.

    It occurred to me that there’s no particularly compelling reason why a replacement, intermediate, station between the two existing stations must be built around the existing running tunnels. It could be built as part of a Clapham High Street regeneration project, with the station box built under a new development, much like Crossrail’s Woolwich station.

    In which case, perhaps TfL are waiting for the local council to make the first move…

    I remember Lewisham Borough Council’s many grandiose schemes way back when I was still going to school in Catford. (That’s well over 20 years ago.) Back then, Lewisham were considered almost a lost cause: none of their schemes ever seemed to get off the ground. Money would be promised, only to be yanked away again. Even the current regeneration project was grinding through the slow, ill-maintained gears of bureaucracy for well over a decade before the hoardings started going up.

    Lewisham is on the Zone 2/3 boundary and they’re clearly going for high density land usage with this regeneration project. If it proves successful, I don’t think we’ll have to wait too long before other boroughs start considering similar moves. (After all, high-density buildings = more people / business = more tax revenues. What’s not to like?)

    As urban metros make much more financial sense when serving high-density housing and business districts, this is likely to be the tipping point when sorting out that knackered pair of Clapham stations becomes viable.

  219. Pedantic of Purley says:

    if TfL are going to be adapting each and every one of their stations to meet their “Step-Free” criteria…

    I don’t think you can presume that and I have never seen it stated.

  220. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anomnibus – I’m not sure that property development is the great saviour for LU stations. We must be talking about £90m-100m for each of those stations to be rebuilt or more to relocate them. You simply do not get that scale of developer contribution from oversite developments at tube stations. I also suspect that any plans for accessibility at the “Claphams” is years or decades away. They weren’t mentioned in the 2050 plan at all. Let’s also be honest – the £75m “accessibility funding” that TfL have found delivers very little of any great substance. It’ll allow some of the easier sites to be done and if you get 6 stations completed with that funding you will be doing very well indeed. Any wider scheme of accessibility on the Tube requires a policy change from the Mayor and the provision of hundreds of millions of pounds over 2-3 decades in a rolling programme.

    I don’t see where you will find “spare” land at somewhere like Clapham Common that could be redeveloped in way that the local authority and residents would find acceptable. I note also that the Government have changed the law so that redevelopment of empty properties no longer requires a contribution towards the provision of affordable housing. Local authorities are going to lose billions of pounds of funding. I suspect that will also change their views about the attractiveness of some schemes.

  221. Theban says:

    I think it is possible to argue that a city cannot afford to make stations step free but that breaks down if the city can afford to pay for the development of new rail lines or stations. In the latter case the city is choosing to not prioritise disabled access and that might be legally difficult and open to challenge. So while TfL might lack plans to convert some stations to step free access if the process starts to look protracted then one can envisage a disabled rights group challenging priorities via judicial review.

  222. timbeau says:

    “I think it is possible to argue that a city cannot afford to make stations step free but that breaks down if the city can afford to pay for the development of new rail lines or stations.”
    Not at all: if reducing congestion, or opening up poorly-served areas is seen as the greater priority than making an already-overcrowded route accessible to a few more people.
    There are consequences: my elderly relatives cannot use the buses any more because all the space where the seats used to be is now empty space for wheelchairs.

  223. Theban says:


    I suspect the reason why reducing congestion was seen as more important would matter. If it is for safety then that would clearly outrank making stations step-free; if, however, the reason was regeneration or development then I suspect a challenge would be possible. It’s unclear what the outcome of a challenge might be but it would seem to be arguable.

    The issue of lack of seats for the elderly is different. I was brought up that children should always stand to allow any adult to sit. Those brought up in other cultures don’t seem to have brought that custom with them and now children tend to occupy seats which would otherwise be free for the elderly. I generally love multiculturalism but some of the changes I find unwelcome nonetheless.

    The second factor though is that bus loading seems higher than it was 30 years ago which again reduces the number of seats available.

  224. Anomnibus says:

    @Walthamstow Writer:

    I admit, it’s a big assumption. My point, though, was that Clapham High Street is an area filled with low-density properties, but one that’s arguably closer to London’s Central Activity Zone than Lewisham.

    This isn’t just the usual light tweaking of an old shopping centre and a lick of paint that used to be hyped as a major regeneration. Nor is it a Brutalist mess as happened to Catford. This is a low-rise town that had a single landmark building with a big “Citibank” logo at the top, turning into something more closely resembling Docklands. It’s going to change the whole feel of the town centre.

    If it works, then Lewisham is unlikely to be the last to see such projects. I repeat, however, that I don’t see anything at all happening before 2050. But after? I think it’s absolutely possible.

    As for the costs of such a project: those two existing stations are already unfit for purpose. At some point, TfL (or whatever they’re called by then) will need to do something about them. Money will need to be spent. If you can defray some of those costs, why wouldn’t you do so?

  225. timbeau says:

    “The issue of lack of seats for the elderly is different. I was brought up that children should always stand to allow any adult to sit.”
    Indeed, but most children tend to go upstairs. The problem is that the disabled have little chance of getting a seat on the bus (or the Overground!) unless they bring it with them. Wheelchair users are only a subset of the “disabled”.

  226. Theban says:

    Children with mothers almost never go upstairs in our parts.

  227. Anonymous says:

    I find that people give up their seats on the tube for my children at times. I generally prefer them on my lap to that but there you go. I also remember one poor lady on a train into London who probably looked a little older than she actually was. She was offered a seat 5 times in 10 minutes refusing each time.

  228. timbeau says:

    I used to give up my seat for children who couldn’t reach the straphangers on the Tube, although I get annoyed if two children small enough to share one seat take one each.

    But I would not expect an elderly, invalid, or pregnant person to be the one to give up their seat. These days babes in arms and small toddlers usually stay strapped in their pushchairs, which is probably the safest place for them and makes more seats available for the rest of us.

  229. Kingstoncommuter says:

    Oh dear, it seems this has descended into another child-bashing moan. What I can’t stand is when people think they’re more entitled to a seat than a child because they are free on buses and trams. Fair enough children should give up their seats to people less able to stand than themselves, but just saying elderly people is a big group, there are plently if elderly people who are more capable of standing up than a school child with a large bag. If retired people want a seat, they should travel off-peak.

  230. Kingstoncommuter says:

    It is a lot better now for pregnant women now that tfl give out ‘baby on board’ badges, so people don’t feel worried that they might offend someone who isn’t pregnant but slightly overweight.

  231. Malcolm says:

    I can see mistakes about pregnancy could be an issue if, when offering a seat, one were obliged to provide a reason (“Excuse me, but would you like this seat because you are pregnant?”). But in my experience, both as an offerer or an offeree, the exchange typically goes “Would you like this seat?” (sometimes in mime), replied by “thanks” or “no thanks”. No reason for offering, for accepting, or for declining, is called for. (Nor indeed for not offering).

    (I’m at in interesting intermediate point of age/decrepitude where I quite often offer a seat, but am quite often offered one. In fact recently I gave up the seat I had just recently accepted, only to be immediately offered another one).

  232. Anonymous says:

    And they say no one has any consideration in London!

  233. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anomnibus – it doesn’t matter that the Claphams are overcrowded today. They have been for years and will continue to be. The issue is that there are other places that are *far more* overcrowded which means they’re higher up the priority list. Courtesy of Twitter it seems that several stations are currently unable to cope with demand – Oxford Circus, Holborn, Waterloo, Victoria. Now OK some of those are receiving attention and others are overloaded because of the London Bridge works but it will be decades before Claphams North and Common can get ahead of places like Baker St, Camden Town, Holborn etc in the pecking order. LU will continue to deploy the simple expedient of forcing people to queue in the street, at the gateline and on the platform before reaching their train. The same applies to accessibility works. The only way that changes is if the political priority changes and we will see what the 2016 candidates have to say on that matter and where they’d get the funding from if they want to embark on an ambitious programme of improvements in this area. I rather suspect any spare Mayoral cash will be pushed towards affordable housing rather than accessible tube stations.

  234. Graham Feakins says:

    @WW “It’s down to whether there is any point in stalling the Northern Line peak service to allow a train to terminate, have the driver change ends and then head north again.”

    Just supposing that there’s a driver ready in the rear cab to drive the train out, perhaps having travelled south with the train to Clapham Common, and once the original driver had switched out (smartly), would any delay – and here I am suggesting that there would not be – be worse than the time permitted to load the train with passengers? I was careful to add the flexibility of a scissors crossover to permit access to the platform with the best possible available turnaround time.

  235. Ian J says:

    @Graham F: would any delay – and here I am suggesting that there would not be – be worse than the time permitted to load the train with passengers

    Presumably yes, because of the time needed to wait for a gap in the northbound service. If trains are operating to the minimum possible headways (as they should be in the peak) then you will need to leave an empty gap in the northbound timetable for the reversing train to slot into. The slightest delay to the southbound train will cause it to miss that slot and then get stuck waiting for a path, meanwhile delaying the other trains behind it.

    I suspect the Clapham issue could be one of those perceived risk vs actual risk issues: the platforms feel dangerously overcrowded because there isn’t the psychological reassurance of a wall along one side of the platform. But is there any evidence that more people have actually fallen off the Clapham platforms than at other stations?

  236. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Graham Feakins,

    Let’s look at this terminating issue slightly differently. It is thought that the best that can currently be achieved in an ideal tube set up is 36tph. Note that this is a presumption and has not yet been managed in modern times though the Victoria Line is close at 34 tph.

    36tph equates to a train every 100 seconds. The Northern Line through Clapham Common currently runs at 30tph but this will probably go up to 32tph at sometime in 2015 when further speed restrictions are eased and software upgrades are made.

    32tph equates to a train every 112.5 seconds. So I would suggest that, for what you want to do, it must add no more than 12.5 seconds to the start to start times for trains on the northbound platform. A crossover is bound to have a speed restriction and so instead of a high speed entry into the platform from the south we will have a low speed entry (40km/hour absolute maximum) from the north. 40km/hour equates to around 11 metres per second and a Northern Line train is 102m long. By the time you allow for the length of the crossover I would suggest that you have already used up your 12.5 seconds.

    Worse still, the terminating train cannot approach the crossover until the previous northbound trains has cleared it, the points have been thrown and it has been proved that the points are locked. So the terminating train travelling south will actually be held or travelling very slowly short of the crossover being prepared to stop in case the route cannot be set. Throwing points on London Underground used to be very fast with pneumatic points but this relies on the air main working. Nowadays there is little point in having an air main on the Northern Line since there are no tripcocks. So for this reason, and because they are more reliable, you are going to have to add a few seconds for the electric points to be thrown and, I guess, a further second or two for them to be proved.

    I would suggest that even if you could perfectly time the trains, there is no way that you could get the calculations to show that this was possible without delaying trains and reducing overall capacity.

    I think you have another couple of problems. One is that any benefit must be offset by the additional safety risk factor of a gap in the service at South Wimbledon to Clapham South inclusive. The other is that, since all the trains are currently full on approach to Stockwell, all you are doing is making one person’s journey possible by making it impossible for someone else.

  237. Malcolm says:

    I think Ian and Pedantic between them have demonstrated that crossover-turnback on an intensively worked line cannot be achieved without degrading the service. But just in case anyone is not convinced, I’d like to suggest that the only thing it could achieve, if it were possible, is to save trains and crew, and thereby cost. It might improve the service for some – giving them more chance of getting on a train, but only by degrading it for others, who would have less chance.

    If that distribution of crush is actually required, it could also be achieved without turning anything back, just by running certain trains out of service between Morden and Clapham.

  238. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Of course another problem is that regular users quickly get to know the times of the Clapham starters. The result is they time their arrival at the station to take advantage of them. So unless there were an awful lot of these starters(I would suggest a minimum of 6tph) they would actually make bunching of intending passengers worse – yet this is one of the things I think the proposition was intended to solve.

    I am also a bit puzzled by what you do in the evening. If you adopt the same procedure that too is going to lead to a lot of people on the platform as many people will always take the first train regardless if it gets them nearer their destination. Or you run all trains to Morden which suggests that there were sufficient trains to run all the trains from Morden in the morning and is going to lead to lots of complains from those further down the line. They will of course argue they have little alternative in the morning but to use the Northern Line (not true in all cases of course) whereas the people of Clapham have various realistic options including a bus to Stockwell.

  239. straphan says:

    We had a similar discussion about these issues when we talked about the Bank station upgrade and the associated Northern line closure between Moorgate and Kennington. We had a lengthy argument about how long it would take for a train to reverse with two drivers available. A Northern Line driver himself stated that three minutes for a reversal can be considered ‘risky’. The first driver must first take his controlling key out, the second one must put his back in, there then needs to be a short period of time for the computer to power back up. Physically, I cannot see this taking less than 1 minute, and we must then allow at least 30 seconds for contingency.

    I have also observed a number of reversing manoeuvres on fully automatic lines in places such as Lille or Madrid (with attended and unattended operation). There, the turnround time is limited primarily by the time required for the signalling and points to reset after the crossing move. Trains on these systems stand still for no more than 15 seconds or so. However, even on those systems turning around is limited to line ends only. We will get our first taste of such a system in the UK once Crossrail trains start turning round in the sidings west of Paddington.

    However, if you count in things like the length of a Northern line train plus the minimum safe headway required between trains, then even with automatic operation I cannot see turning round on a normal track being feasible at sub-2 minute headways.

  240. Taz says:

    Clapham shown on at 0:14 for those unfamiliar.

  241. Pedantic of Purley says:

    So video published on 9th January 2015 and at 0:57 states “Increased train frequencies by 2022”. Yet, as the article states, this press release on the 12th January promises at least 30tph by 2020.

    Seems Chris J’s comment is consistent with this and this is a very recent change.

  242. Christian Schmidt says:

    Why is Camden Town to be seen as so difficult? Compared to, say, Berlin-Gesundbrunnen/Bornholmer Strasse with its six branches? (Seven from 2017.)

  243. Malcolm says:

    @Christian: It is seen as difficult for all sorts of reasons set out at great length in comments above and elsewhere. The short answer is as follows: “there is no short answer”. The long answer would involve acres of repetition.

    And comparison with a different place, in a different city, with different requirements, different practices, different laws etc. is not likely to shed much light on the matter.

  244. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Malcolm, Christian Schmidt

    I don’t see that there isn’t a short answer. In Berlin this sort of investment would be welcomed. We have the technical ability and the money can now be found (something Berlin is not good at). We also have the opposition to changes that don’t benefit everyone.

    Don’t be deluded though about Berlin always finding things easy. How difficult can it be to open a short three station single track underground line? Dare I mention U55? And I know we had the Central Line closure for six weeks with the bogie problem but that is nothing compared to what Berliners had to endure with the bogie problem on the S-bahn.

  245. Anomnibus says:

    @Christian Schmidt:

    The problem is the politics and red tape, not the engineering.

    We know what needs to be done, and how we can achieve it. The problem is getting the permission to do it all.

  246. Malcolm says:

    Anomnibus says “we know what needs to be done”.

    Each person and organisation that has thought about it might “know”. But they don’t all “know” the same thing.

    What you describe as “red tape” is the approximation to consensus-building which is necessary under any non-dictatorship form of ocracy. Of course it doesn’t always function perfectly, and impatience with, and name-calling of, the process is quite understandable.

    In the situation mentioned, Camden Town, TfL, claiming to “know” what is best for London, proposed a scheme which the Borough of Camden, claiming to “know” what is best for the people of Camden, turned down. So we are where we are…

  247. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Exactly. And, with Berlin being much smaller than London, I suspect, but do not know, that the “boroughs” (Bezirke, if I recall correctly) have much less power and influence over such a decision. Higher up, much of the power is devolved to the Länder (regions) so there is less of a problem there too.

  248. Ian J says:

    No doubt those tasked with building Berlin Brandenburg airport thought they knew what needed to be done, and how to achieve it too…

  249. rosschitect says:

    Great article, very useful. I’m not sure if this is the right place to ask the question but is there any data on the capacity of each station? I am particularly interested in Colliers Wood and South Wimbledon. I ask as it is an Area for Intensification (AFI) and Merton Council have undertaken site capacity and massing studies which estimate the area has growth capacity for 2000 – 2500 new homes and 7000 – 9000 new residents. The London Plan states that the area could accommodate a minimum of 1,300 new homes. I am trying to find some base data for the current situation and what the impact of these new residents might have on the Northern Line. That and whether or not Merton, in conjunction with TfL have assessed it in any way. If anyone can help it would be greatly appreciated.

  250. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Rosschitect – I doubt station capacity in and of itself would be helpful. You need a whole pile of assumptions about who would move in to the area, their likely employment and other lifestyle aspects and then how that translates into demand for travel. Beyond that you need a range of assumptions about how the demand splits by time, spatially and modally. I’m sure TfL’s planners have some of that info modelled for areas across London but I don’t know about local authorities and the GLA.

    Is it not the case that developers of new housing or other facilities are required to produce a vast range of documentation to support their planning applications and to demonstrate compliance with regional and local plans? That also includes transport impacts and TfL also review planning applications to assess submissions and to set out their demands for S106 / Community levy payments to fund transport improvements. I recall reading TfL’s response to the Millbrook Park development near Mill Hill East – it showed a decent rigour on TfL’s part and that they were not satisfied with what the developer had put forward or agreed to fund.

    The TfL website has a section that might help but you may want to contact TfL directly if you specific questions.

  251. Walthamstow Writer says:

    I see scope creep is already affecting the Battersea Extensions and posing timescale risks.

    From the latest quarterly investment report and the use of the word “significantly”.

    “Battersea Park Station Development Company (BPSDC) have requested further changes which could significantly impact the current station design leading to further time delays and increase the design and construction costs. We are working closely with Ferrovial Agroman Laing O’Rourke and Mott MacDonald to understand the impact of these changes. In addition, we are looking to BPSDC to agree a formal deed of variation to the funding and delivery agreements to reflect the revised requirements and station design. ”

    Makes one wonder what the development company have asked for.

    As an aside this week I attended an exhibition on the LU Design Idiom. In short this is new guidance on how to design new / refurbish existing LU stations. Some of the mocked up images showing the new use of colours, materials and lighting seem destined to appear at the new NLE stations. While there were some nice touches in the guidance I wasn’t overly impressed with the colour and lighting use based on the video and printed images that were available. Hopefully a different mix of colours is used in the final designs but not endless miles of white tiles as used in recent refurbs.

  252. AlisonW says:

    The important thing is that any additional costs shouldn’t fall on TfL, as I see it anyway. But what happens if BPSDC refuse? Is the extension cancelable?

  253. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Alison W – I doubt it would be cancelable now. It was possible to stop the NLE contracts etc if the financing had not been put in place by a set date but it was and we’re now past that point. IIRC (I haven’t checked back through all the posts on NLE) the overall programme of works is very tight indeed because of all of the related development on the Nine Elms site. I think there may also be planning conditions about the extension being in place before some elements of the development can open / accept tenants. There are also links in with LU’s wider plans for the Northern Line. I suspect that other tenants and developers on the wider site would be livid if the rail link was cancelled / delayed as a result of the actions of one party. One final complication may be to do with the financing. This is reliant on developer contributions, S106 commitments and increased business rate revenues to service and then pay down the debt even though the initial loan is from the Public Works Loan Board. The last thing the area needs is something that might slow down the scale of development and the ability to generate revenue to pay off the loan.

    It looks very complex and inter-related to me and delays and changes may have unexpected consequences.

  254. Theban says:

    It’s hardly unknown for project managers to seize on any change request as a reason to justify unrelated cost or time overruns. There can be posturing from both sides. Indeed, both sides can know there needs to be some re scoping to benefit both sides but it often takes a trigger to surface such issues. There’s no reason to believe that is happening here but without hard information I’d personally not wish to jump to conclusions either way.

  255. Briantist (in Gigabit internet heaven) says:

    @Walthamstow Writer

    “As an aside this week I attended an exhibition on the LU Design Idiom. In short this is new guidance on how to design new / refurbish existing LU stations.”

    Yes, me too. It was very interesting. The people from the architect firm were happy to answer all my detailed questions (such as “will this mean the end of the tiles saying Euston Road on the Northern line at Warren Street? Yes” )

    Perhaps a LR article would be in order, at least when they publish everything in September “as an app” or a £20 book?

    For a bonus point: did you spot the East Croydon bridge in the office?

  256. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Briantist – no one was really milling about to discuss the display as I went after the main “open days”. I didn’t think it fair to disturb people. Hopefully TfL will publish, say as a pdf, the design idiom document so the public can see the approach. I am fearful that the end result will be a needless conformity and uniformity being applied to a network where variety of finishes and styles is one of its joys.

    There is plenty to be tidied up and neatened on LU stations but I would be completely against the destruction of the old style of tiling and friezes you get in some places. I can see the Victoria Line’s “style” from the 60s being eradicated and that would be wrong in my view. It’s not the brightest of colour palettes *but* it marks an important moment in time of the network’s development. I certainly don’t like the recent preoccupation with “hospital” white tiling everywhere with blue handrails and grey step risers as the only relief. I also thought some of the mocked up designs looked gloomy and overly dark.

    I did see the model of the East Croydon bridge. I smiled inwardly thinking about all the criticism of it on here and the glowing terms in which SEW themselves describe it. Two different worlds! The other different world was the kitchen area in that office – the only one I’ve been in that has beer on draught! That’s the private sector for you (or a niche part of it anway).

  257. Walthamstow Writer says:

    Further confirmation from LU (in the latest Investment quarterly report) that progress on elements of the NLE are “going south” so to speak.

    Battersea Power Station Development Company (BPSDC) Over Station Development design changes have delayed the station box design from being finalized, which in turn has delayed the design and construction activities. This milestone is unachievable by 14 March 2016. The project will continue to work with BPSDC to mitigate the slippage. Slippage on this element is estimated to be 170 days.

    As a consequence of this slippage, together with concerns over constructability and
    integration, the key milestone of handing over the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) launch chamber is unachievable by 30 March 2016. To mitigate delays the project is focusing on activities to achieve the earliest possible TBM launch date. Slippage on this element is estimated to be 160 days.

    There have been a couple of cost savings due to no accessibility works at Kennington and Insurance savings.

    EFC has reduced due to risks not materialising, predominantly confirmation that step-free access is not required at Kennington station. A significant saving was also made in the procurement of the Owner Controlled Insurance Programme. The reduced Q1 EFC does not include the Battersea design changes cost pressure. This is captured on the Q1 Pressures and Opportunities schedule with the value still to be confirmed.

  258. Old Buccaneer says:

    On 9 January 2016 at 09:08 Greg Tingey commented (here) on “Extending the Bakerloo: it’s not about transport”:
    “Re. extension beyond Battersea developers-dream, I would have thought that not going to CLJ, but towards Wandsworth Town / Putney would be a better move?
    [ Crayons now back in box … ]”

    Wandsworth Town has long been a very difficult place to get a train from in the morning peak in the peak direction. (The rest of the time it’s fine). But the principal riverside developments in the vicinity have happened; & I would be surprised if there is enough ‘juice’ in the redevelopment of the Young’s brewery site to make a meaningful difference to the financing of an extension.

    Putney High Street has just had 15 minutes of fame for using up its annual allowance of instances of excess NOx in eight days; I don’t see how a Northern Line Extension extension would mitigate that.

    But a “CLJ distributor” line East *might* help XR2 relieve the Northern Line. I also note that Carto Metro shows the western stub of the NLE after Battersea White Elephant pointing towards Earlsfield.

    Re-opening Battersea High Street would do more for rail connectivity per pound spent I suggest.

  259. Walthamstow Writer says:

    As I predicted some time ago the developer’s decision to redesign the over station development at Battersea is now having consequences for LU’s project. There’s not a great deal of detail here given the consequences are largely commercial but it’s clear there are cost and time issues.

  260. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Well yes and if you go back to the previous Finance and Policy committee minutes and the project monitoring reports you can see there is a 95 day delay some of which is on the critical path. This pushes back the expected opening date from a planned date of 31-Dec-20 (as if) to 23-Feb-21.

    I suspect if it gets delayed much more then there is the issue of whether you want to open it just before or during the closure and partial closure of the Northern line due to station capacity work at Bank station. So another month’s delay may delay the opening by 3 or 4 months.

  261. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – Sorry to appear so cynical but I’d be surprised if LU, even with their very best efforts, have managed to keep the delay to 95 days. The redesign sounds material and not easy to deal with despite the fairly bland language used in the paper. As you know the original timescale and milestones were already very tight for this project because of the dependencies with the above ground redevelopment. I suspect that LU will be forced to “bite the bullet” and deal with the issue you raise about the Bank works sooner rather than later.

    The timetable planners will need to have some certainty about what infrastucture and service pattern they should assume is available to run the Northern Line. I expect they may be facing a range of issues at Bank anyway, as work progresses, in terms of speed restrictions etc all of which have to be modelled and programmed into the control system. To avoid an excess of work then a delay to Battersea services until after the Bank closure is done might be simpler but that won’t be the only consideration. I expect there are some very big commercial issues looming about the train service having to be in place before any substantive use of the Nine Elms / BPS redevelopment can take place. Roads can take up some slack but not much and the emphasis will be on public transport (tube) access. Every week there isn’t a tube service will be costing someone and delaying the start of pay back but of course the root cause at present is the developer itself and not LU. One to watch.

  262. Talbot says:

    Interesting article, and excellent comments.

    My penny-worth of thoughts to ease the problem of congestion on the southern section of the Northern Line is to close Clapham North station altogether during the morning peak hour, and only allow southbound passengers entry into Clapham Common station ( Exit from CC would still be allowed from both southbound and northbound trains.

    To deal with the Clapham passengers travelling into central London, would be to run extra buses on route 155 between Clapham Common and Elephant and Castle from 7.30 to 9.30 in the morning.

    At present, the 155 operates every 8 or 9 minute intervals during the peak hours. And by putting on just 8 extra buses for a short journey shuttle service between CC and the Elephant, then a more frequent service of 4 to 5 minute intervals will provide a less congested journey for the Clapham travellers – because half the buses on the route would be empty of passengers.

    People using both CN and CC would not be happy of course – but it would help ease congestion for the other 85 to 90% of commuters using the Northern Line. It would also marginally help speed up journeys, and possibly allow an extra train or two per hour between Morden and Kennington.

    This a much cheaper option than carrying out fearfully expensive major engineering work of reconstructing the stations or putting in extra train tunnels etc.

    Plus the fact, that this scheme could be put into effect almost immediately – certainly within a six month time-frame.

  263. Talbot,

    Nice idea but I suspect the problem would be that northbound passengers would enter Clapham Common station then take a southbound train one stop south and change at Clapham South to go northward thus introducing a whole set of new problems.

    Also it does nothing to relieve the problem in the evening peak.

  264. timbeau says:

    “only allow southbound passengers entry into Clapham Common station ( Exit from CC would still be allowed from both southbound and northbound trains”

    So people will be allowed to enter Clapham Common station (officially only to go south), and northbound trains will call there (officially to set down only).

    How do you enforce the ban on people boarding the northbound trains? You can hardly bar access to the relevant platform, as it is an island serving both directions. (which is why there is a problem in the first place!)

  265. timbeau says:

    Moreover, Clapham South to Elephant is nearly 4 miles. TfL’s journey planner shows the Tube journey takes 11 minutes and the bus takes 38.

    I don’t think the good folk of Clapham would take kindly to the idea of their commute being extended by the best part of half an hour.

  266. Pedantic of Purley says:

    timbeau 17:28

    Oops. I had misread that part. Yes, I could see some fun trying to build a safety case on that proposal then.

  267. Talbot says:


    I think you will find the bus journey from CC to Elephant is just 28 minutes at that time of the morning. Certainly longer than the tube – but it all depends how acute the congestion is on the Northern line at CN and CC.

    If people are waiting around on the platforms for up to 10 minutes-or-more before they can squeeze on board a train, then would they not be tempted take a more comfortable bus journey up to Stockwell, Kennington or the Elephant, and join the tube system there.

    If the frequencies of buses can be enhanced up to 4 minute intervals, with half of the vehicles commencing empty at Clapham Common itself, then I would suggest its a scheme well worth exploring.

    The options of doing major engineering work beneath ground along the Clapham High Road is prohibitive, and far too expensive for such humble inner suburban commuter stations. If they were interchange stations like Finsbury Park, Hammersmith or Stockwell, then maybe…but I can’t imagine any authority allocating the funds for a substantial reconstruction of the tube in the Clapham area.

  268. Talbot says:


    You are quite right about how the staff would be able to prevent people entering Clapham Common station and joining a northbound train. I admit, that I have no answer to that one. But once again, it all depends how desperate is the situation there for passengers scrambling to get on board.

    But if you’ve got a good bus service above ground, then perhaps a good percentage of the commuters would readily take a bus to at least Stockwell and get the Victoria Line.

    We don’t really know if some passengers from CC and CN are already take southbound trains to Clapham South and then climbing aboard northbound trains. Maybe the more younger element are already doing this.

  269. Jim AA says:

    Clapham North to Old Street used to be my commute a few years ago. It was generally impossible to get on the first, or second, or third northbound train at Clapham North in the morning peak. I got in the habit of ‘backtracking’ to Clapham South or even Balham in order to board a northbound train.
    From my experience of having lived in that area, I agree that there is a serious problem for commuters at Clapham North. I sympathise with the thinking of Talbot’s proposal, but I don’t really support it. As far as I remember, the buses on the Elephant-Clapham corridor are themselves full in the rush hour, and slowed by traffic congestion. There are bus lanes but as these are shared with Cycle Superhighway 7, buses compete for space with hundreds of cyclists.

  270. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Jim AA,

    You are tending to confirm what I suspected would be the case and that all a proposal like Talbot’s would do is move the misery onto someone else. At the end of the day (or rather the beginning of the rush hour) you need a solution that generates fresh capacity and not one that simply reorganises services so that one person’s gain is another person’s loss.

  271. Ian Sergeant says:

    To state the obvious, I suspect that these changes would not be popular with the man on the Clapham Omnibus!

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