diamond geezer

 Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bank dragonFor a couple of years now, TfL have been very keen to persuade you not to visit Bank/Monument station. Anyone would think there was a radioactive leak down there, or a top secret government bunker, the amount of effort they've gone to in order to keep passengers well away. Not so - the disruption relates to the ongoing upgrade of the station's umpteen escalators, and the need to close off various subterranean routes while renovation work proceeds. But, as for suggestions that travellers should avoid Bank/Monument altogether, TfL's publicity overdrive continues to massively overstate the case. Yes folks, it's time to tear apart yet another devious and misleading press release.
Passengers advised to avoid changing trains at Bank station from March
Transport for London is advising passengers to avoid changing between DLR, Northern and Central line services at Bank station when the next stage of escalator work starts in March and when it intensifies in May.
The news item's barely started and we already have two conflicting messages. The headline, which is what most people will read, warns against changing at Bank full stop. The opening line clarifies things, and narrows things down to warn users away from the DLR, Northern and Central lines. Even this, as it turns out, is a vast over-simplification and unnecessary scaremongering.
Four escalators are being replaced or upgraded as part of TfL's multi-billion pound Investment Programme. Between March 1 and the end of the year, one of the escalators running between the DLR platforms and Northern/Central lines will be replaced. Passengers who intend to travel on the DLR or who are coming from the DLR platforms will find it easier and quicker to enter and leave via Monument station.
Pity the poor DLR passengers at Bank. Their station was closed over Christmas and throughout January for track improvement work, and now, just one month later, access is going to be horribly restricted again. Entrance and exit via Monument would be damned inconvenient for many, especially those trying to get to the Central line via a lengthy detour along the street above. As for anyone changing between the DLR and Northern lines, there are two direct fixed staircases linking those two platforms, so to even think of interchanging via Monument would be sheer lunacy. And anyway, only one of the pair of escalators in this part of the station is being worked on, so it will (presumably) still be possible to ride either up or down throughout the 'closure' period. Not every passenger needs to be warned away from here, not at all.
Between the start of May and the end of 2011, the three escalators running to and from the Central line ticket hall will be taken out of service for refurbishment work one at a time. A one-way system will operate during the morning peak when the majority of passengers using the Central line are leaving Bank station.
It's February, but we're already being warned off in readiness for something that doesn't kick off until May. And let's get this chunk of engineering work in perspective. There'll always be two out of three of the escalators operational between the Central line and the ticket hall, which'll usually be one up and one down. No problem. It's only during the morning rush hour that down-riding will be impossible, and even then there'll be an alternative entrance via the Northern line ticket hall. This is no dead end closure, merely the occasional inconvenience.
Nigel Holness, Service Director, said: "We are urging passengers to plan their journeys to avoid changing trains at Bank and to use alternative stations nearby wherever possible, such as Cannon Street, Moorgate, Mansion House, London Bridge, Liverpool Street, or St. Paul's. This will make their journeys easier particularly during weekday rush hours."
And back again to the ultra-scary message. Stay away from Bank, oh ye citizens of London - here be dragons. But Nigel's advice is woefully over-simplified, and risks diverting thousands of commuters when really there's nothing to worry about. Changing between certain lines at Bank should be wholly unaffected, for example between Central and Northern (no escalators, all stairs), and to/from the Waterloo & City. As for the idea of using alternative stations, this 'solution' certainly won't make everyone's journey easier. For most District line travellers, Nigel, surely Monument is a far better option than Cannon Street or Mansion House? And do you think Mr Holness has any idea quite how far it is to walk from Bank to London Bridge?
Walking Times
  • Bank - London Bridge: 14 minutes
Ah yes, so he does. I bet he doesn't walk it very often, though.

OK, now just allow me to rip into some of the press release's "Notes for editors" before I finish.
The DLR is undertaking a £300m upgrade programme to lengthen its trains and increase capacity during the next three years. This will require extensive engineering works.
Er, no. I think you'll find that those three years just finished and that this upgrade is pretty much complete. Don't you read your own press releases?
Instead of changing trains at Bank alternative routes for passengers are proposed below:
  • For passengers travelling on the Central line and wanting to travel to and from the Isle of Dogs, please change at either Bond Street or Stratford stations for the Jubilee line
Er, no. This is only the case if you happen to be passing through Bond Street or Stratford anyway. If you're at Bank, then diverting via either of those two detours will take you half an hour. The DLR direct from Bank is only ten minutes, which has got to be quicker even if you have to walk down via Monument to get there.
  • For London Underground passengers wanting to access the DLR please change at Canary Wharf, Canning Town, West Ham, Stratford or Tower Hill/Tower Gateway.
Er, no. Changing to the DLR at West Ham is currently impossible, and will continue to be so until the new Stratford International extension opens later this year. Don't get ahead of yourselves.

Sorry, I'd rather not have wasted another day on the blog tediously ripping apart yet another public information missive. But, honestly, how much longer are TfL going to scaremonger in unnecessarily broadbrush terms about this beleaguered network interchange. Sure, there'll be certain times that certain passengers on certain routes might want to think twice about venturing down into the Bank labyrinth. But most of the time, for most people, this station will continue to be eminently doable. Whatever Nigel says.

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