Tubewatch (38)Pot pourri The Bank/Monument complex (see Tube week 5) is one of the busiest interchanges on the Underground network. If you were building it from scratch (and there weren't bank vaults in the way) you wouldn't have built this nightmarish clogged-up warren of passageways, stairs and escalators. So majorplans are afoot to remodel the Northern line platforms, and also to create another station entrance in King William Street with step-free access. The biggest change will be the digging of a brand new southbound Northern line tunnel, and the re-use of the old one as a circulation space for passengers. A bit like there now is at Angel, which used to be narrow and congested and no longer is. The official consultation process is now underway, with plans online here and a special exhibition at 10 King William Street from 8am to 6pm until Friday 11 November [Ian'sbeen]. Don't all rush, because the consultation runs until 31st December next year. Construction isn't then due to begin before 2015, with completion scheduled for (blimey) 2021. Expect congestion for some years yet.
And, while we're talking new projects, the Croxley Rail Link continues to edge forwards towards possible realisation. Several weeks of widespread public consultation were undertaken back in the spring, revealing detailed plans for diverting the Watford spur of the Metropolitan line to Watford Junction. Next Monday the outcomes of that consultation are being released, via "six new fact sheets", followed by drop-in sessions throughout the rest of the month. That's 16th November in Fuller Way, Croxley, then the 17th at Watford Museum, then two local schools (Laurence Haines on the 22nd and Watford Boys on the 24th). A possible completion date is 2015, but everything depends on a DfT funding decision next month. Fingers crossed?
I was travelling home on the Metropolitan line last night, on one of the new S Stock trains, when my train stopped at King's Cross St Pancras. What a lovely step-free gap between train and platform, I thought, unlike the big drop down from the old A Stock trains. I was sitting opposite the wheelchair space, which made me recognise how impressively accessible these new trains are. But then I looked up at the Metropolitan line diagram above the carriage windows - the purple line with coloured circles to show all the step-free stations. Eight white circles (for step-free access from street to platform) and no blue circles (for step-free access from street to train). Hang on, I thought. There's step-free access from street to platform, and these new trains have step-free access from platform to train, so surely there must be step-free access from street to train. So why does King's Cross have a white circle on the S Stock line diagram when surely it should have a blue circle? Any wheelchair user on board the train might look at the wrongly-coloured map and assume it was impossible to get off, which it clearly isn't. Why, I mused, have TfL gone to all the expense of fitting updated line diagrams in these new accessible trains, only for them to include blatantly incorrect information. And then I remembered that the rollout of wheelchair accessibility symbols on tube maps is already a wholly illogicalinconsistent shambles, so this stupidity was nothing unexpected, and went back to reading my newspaper.