The extension of the North line opened today
At 5:28 am this morning, the first paying passengers boarded their first train on the extension of the North Line to Battersea.
The extension, under construction since November 2015, connects new developments at the Battersea Power Plant to the Charing Cross branch of the North Line, with an intermediate station at Nine Elms. To reduce congestion in Kennington, as more and more people will be trading between Bank and Charing Cross branches, four additional side passages have been constructed.
This is the first major extension of the London Underground this century, and while pedants will say the extension to Heathrow T5 in 2008 counts, it was one stop and only inside the airport, so this is not “major”, in the sense of two stations open to the general public.
The two rail tunnels join the Kennington Loop, then go through Nine Elms to Battersea, as well as two overflow tunnels beyond the station. Just outside Battersea station there is also a large crossing cavern to allow trains to use either platform at the end of the line.
During construction, spoil from the rail tunnels and the Battersea site was transported by conveyor belt to the river for barge transport to a waste dump next to the Tilbury Power Station. The mud transported there was used to convert the area into arable land and create a new path by the river.
Most of the rubble from Nine Elms was also transported through the rail tunnels to Battersea for disposal in the same manner, which required the new Battersea metro station to receive a temporary clearance for rubbish removal.
The construction of the northern line extension was however delayed.
When the groundbreaking ceremony took place in November 2015, it was expected that the extension would open by December 2020. However, a major change in on-site development plans above Battersea station caused a significant delay and increased the cost of building the station. The main problem was that they had to redesign much of the load-bearing structures to cope with the much heavier than expected apartment blocks above.
Due to the delays at the station, the tunnel boring machines, which were due to leave in the summer of 2016, actually left in April 2017, although they then completed the digging within the scheduled six months.
Layout and completion of the stations has taken the rest of the time since 2017, along with a lot of testing.
The signaling system used on the extension is also slightly different from the rest of the North Line. When the North Line was upgraded to Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) provided by Thales in 2013/14, they used a fiber loop-based system in the tunnels to track the location of the trains. trains, as was ordered in 2010. Since then, the technology has evolved into a radio system, as is currently the case with the basement upgrade. At some point in the future, the old fiber-based system will need to be replaced when it is no longer supported, so it made sense to install its radio-based replacement in the expansion. Trains and signals all behave the same, but the expansion is ready for the next generation of signaling systems.
Financing of the extension of the North line
The line was fully financed locally without any contribution from the central government. The specific mechanism is that the Public Works Loan Board has provided an interest-bearing loan of £ 1 billion, which is repaid by higher interest rates for local businesses around the new extension of the metro line and contributions from all residential developments that span the Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea. (VNEB) Zone of opportunity.
This will cover about three quarters of the cost. The remainder comes from developer contributions that would normally be paid to the local council, but which will instead be used to finance the extension of the north line. Of its share of developer contributions, Wandsworth Council will provide £ 259million, including £ 200million from the Battersea Power Plant site and £ 59million from other sites, and Lambeth City Council will provide £ 7.3million.
The funding agreement lasts for 25 years, with an option to extend for 5 years if necessary. If the debt is still not repaid after 30 years, the outstanding amount will be repaid by London taxpayers through the Greater London Authority (GLA).
Project costs have also fallen from £ 1bn to an expected cost of around £ 1.1bn. Due to the uncertainty in January 2016 regarding the technical modifications needed at Battersea, it was agreed to increase the approval of the project to £ 1.26 billion. The project was delivered within the budget of £ 1.1bn.
In January 2019, it was confirmed that the opening of the extension would be delayed from late 2020 to fall 2021, and even despite the pandemic lockdown and subsequent impact on working conditions, they managed to meet the new deadline.
So this morning the new line opened, and what awaits the passengers?
Battersea Power Plant
New terminus of the North Line, this is a three-level station, with a modest-sized entrance leading to a large open space for the ticket office level, then two separate rows of escalators up to a a little more modest dock space.
Built primarily to serve the huge development that has turned the abandoned land around Battersea Power Station into housing, the power station will have two entrances, only one of which opens initially, and it is closest to the main road. A second entrance closer to the unbuilt parts of the development will open later.
A fairly dramatic angular ceiling, which the builders noted to be as difficult to assemble as it looks, floods the entrance with plenty of daylight along the escalator shaft to the hall. lower ticket office.
Here a double-wide space opens with a very wide ticket door (12 standard doors and four wide doors) along the middle leading to the platforms. On the unpaid side, there are, as at Canary Wharf, areas reserved for retail stores (aka, cafes), and a number of ATMs.
Running Along The Two Long Walls is a work of art, by Alexandre da Cunha, a series of old-fashioned advertising rotators that are painted blocks of color that slowly rotate throughout the day, presenting an appearance constantly evolving. It’s a pretty nice effect to be there as the color swap ripples along the width of the station, which happens every few minutes.
Along the ceiling is a lightly coffered concrete decoration that helps reduce the impact of so much ceiling space.
From the boarding gate, two double sets of escalators lead to the platform level. The decorative effect is simple, mainly metallic cladding and dark walls with golden ribs along the ceiling. The main show is the ticket office, not the docks.
Yes, I’m sure people will call it the Battersea Power Plant (as I also did), for a while, but I’m sure it’s a joke that will wear out really quickly.
Nine Elms Station is arguably the one that will have the most impact on pre-existing residents as it is built in an area that was already densely residential, and the area is now a mix of new construction and many older blocks. .
The station also perfectly reflects the changes in the way people travel in London, as it sits on land once reserved for motorists – a former car park.
The entrance is also larger than in Battersea, with five large gates, then straight into the ticket barrier and all the way to the docks. There are 9 standard ticket doors plus two wide doors. A good idea is that there are a few seats next to the wide door closest to the elevator.
Three sets of escalators descend from a large box to platform level, and a very large space has been carved into the ground here. As this is the Northern line, there are no platform edge doors here, although there is a passive layout in the design if they need to be added later.
The design consists of simple concrete columns and the overhead bracing shows the structure, with a golden ribbed ceiling above. Some will complain about the sober design, but will add decoration and just as much will complain about the color or the chosen pattern.
A plan for some artwork in the upper ticket hall was later canceled.
The overall effect, however, is a spacious platform space which is a nice change from the small tunnels that most Northern Line stations have, leading to a large, bright ticket room, which has hints. to Charles Holden on how the large windows frame the top of the box letting loads of light flood the station.
Some things to watch out for
Staff cabins at stations have Victoria Line carpeted seats.
Some cards are covered with small stickers ready to be removed when the Elizabeth line opens.
Photographers might like the reflective color effect you can get on the walls of Battersea platform while there is a subway in the station.
Two new ventilation shafts have been added to the Northern Line at Kennington Park and Kennington Green.
Those accustomed to taking an empty train in Kennington will now find that it already contains passengers from Battersea and Nine Elms.
There is a breath of very cold air as the trains arrive at Nine Elms, thanks to the tunneling through the cold ground and the two ventilation shafts. This can help reduce the heat from the north line to the rest of the line slightly by cooling the trains as they pass through the extension.
New hit charts have been released.
When the renovated platforms at Whitechapel station opened a few weeks ago, it was confirmed to be the widest platform on the London Underground, but Nine Elms is also very wide. Has Whitechapel ever lost his crown?
The width of Nine Elms was confirmed to be 17.6 meters wide, so armed with a tape measure, a visit to Whitechapel station was in order to verify its width. And it turns out that Whitechapel is around 20.9 meters wide, so it retains the title of the widest platform in the London Underground. Sorry nine elms.