For 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.