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Northern Line through City of London restored a day early

The Independent logo The Independent 15/05/2022 Simon Calder
Space age: the southbound platform at Bank station in London  - Simon Calder © Simon Calder

Space age: the southbound platform at Bank station in London

- Simon Calder

Four months to the day after the City Branch of the Northern Line closed, this key link in the London Underground has been restored.

The section of Tube running through the City and south of the Thames to London Bridge was set to reopen on Monday morning. But on Sunday afternoon Transport for London (TfL) managers decided to allow passengers to travel on the upgraded line.

Word spread quickly among Tube enthusiasts and TfL staff, who appeared to comprise the vast majority of travellers on the revived line.

The closure had severed services between Moorgate – serving the north of the City of London – and Kennington in south London, where it rejoins the Charing Cross branch of the Northern Line.

Three big rail stations – King’s Cross, St Pancras and London Bridge – lost their connections with the City.

The project has created 40 per cent more space within Bank station. Before the coronavirus pandemic it was one of the busiest on the Tube network – with frequent overcrowding on the narrow platforms on the Northern Line, which were built over 100 years ago.

Prior to the Covid crisis, the Northern Line was the busiest on the London Underground system, with just over one million customers using it each working day.

A diverted tunnel has been bored for the southbound line, with a new, wide platform and better links to the Central Line, Waterloo and City and Docklands Light Railway.


Video: Northern Line Bank branch to reopen on May 16, TfL confirms (Evening Standard)

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Two new moving walkways, 12 new escalators and two new lifts have been installed at Bank station.

A former London Underground civil engineer, Ian Robins, said: “Bank station has grown enormously in the last 50 odd years, from a narrow-platformed Northern and Central Line station with a subway connection to Monument station to a huge interchange with Docklands Light Railway.”

Stuart Harvey, chief capital officer at TfL, described Bank as “one of the largest and most complicated subterranean railway complexes in the world”.

He said: “Northern Line customers now have a new, wider southbound platform and spacious customer concourse. The countdown is on for completing the rest of this major upgrade.”

Further south on the reopened line, Borough station has been improved and is no longer one of the dingiest on the Underground network.

The Sunday service ran between Morden and Moorgate. A full end-to-end service is due to begin on Monday morning.

During the closure, City commuters have had complex and time-consuming journeys. Sadé Boyce, a producer at a photography agency who commutes from her home in Clapham North, said: “I had to get three Tubes instead of just one to get to work, so the reopening of Bank will do wonders for tomorrow’s commute.”

Another major transport opening is scheduled for 24 May, when the much-delayed and over-budget Elizabeth Line is due to start running through central London – three-and-a-half years late.

The cost of the project, known as Crossrail, has risen by £4bn to £18bn.

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