diamond geezer

 Thursday, November 21, 2013

JUBILEE: Waterloo → Southwark

I don't think there's another pair of Underground stations like it - two neighbouring stations on the same line where you can walk from one to the other without ever leaving a station. Such a pair would have to be very close to one another, which these are, and there'd have to be something fairly unusual inbetween, which there is. The two stations are Waterloo and Southwark on the Jubilee line. And what's inbetween is a mighty trek above ground and down again, via a completely different station.

WATERLOO: This is the second station on the Jubilee line extension, not quite so impressive as Westminster, but striking all the same. It has those glass doors that seal off the tracks from the platform, while the walls are covered in little grey tiles like a mosaic. There are two exits from the platform, roughly at each end, so take your pick.
escalator ↑11m: Join the throng to battle your way aboard the first escalator, where there's usually a lot more space for those willing to walk. And it doesn't matter which set of escalators you choose, because each deposits you in the same place on the landing above.
landing: This would feel quite big, except there's a mysterious glass chamber in the middle surrounding a single set of steps down. Where does it go? Whatever, it's a secret staircase for staff only, not for us. Neither are we heading for the travelator, that speedy moving walkway leading to Waterloo's other tube lines.
escalator ↑17m: This is a long one, rising up a thin tube lined by grey indented panels. They all have their own style of grey indented panel, the stations on this section of the Jubilee line extension, with Waterloo's being an indented circle with a smaller indented circle in the centre. Look over your shoulder as you ascend into the ticket hall to see an elephant's head above you. This sculpture is by Kendra Haste, and is made from galvanised painted wire. First time travellers tend to look twice.

Waterloo Road ticket hall: This is a busy ticket hall, and probably one of the last TfL will close should they ever announce a major raft of closures. You can exit to Waterloo Road (the road, not the badly acted school), but instead most pass through, avoiding the pasty and burger outlets, to rise again.
escalator ↑: Here's our third escalator, climbing from beside the flashy cashpoints to emerge in the mainline station.
Waterloo station: Viewed one way, it's a romantic departure point for the West Country, meet me under the clock. Viewed another way, it's commuter hell, queueing to board the 1753 to Chessington South. But we're not hanging around, we're heading for Waterloo East. It used to be fairly easy to spot the Waterloo East exit on the eastern wall, but not any more. I wandered along and back for a bit before I finally spotted the sign hanging from the ceiling - they hid it well.
escalator ↑: Our fourth and final upward escalator glides towards the roof, providing a fine vantage point across the station below, and an upper balcony.
The Balcony: You might not have realised that Waterloo station has a mezzanine floor. It's relatively new, and is of course an elevated shopping experience for bored passengers. Liverpool Street's had one for years, King's Cross got one last year - it's the de rigeur option for transport retail. Waterloo's will be of more use when they find tenants for all the shops, but you can already dine, or do Fat Face, if you insist.

Waterloo East entrance: Aha, the station entrance is on level one. If you reach the barrier without buying a ticket a sign directs you back down the escalator to try again in the main station. Until fairly recently it used to be possible to walk straight through, and onwards, without touching in. Alas it's possible no longer.
passageway: It's a bit of a walk from Waterloo to Waterloo East, and all slightly downhill. Follow the semi-cylindrical tube, making sure to keep to the left beneath the green arrows. Look, we're passing over Waterloo Road, and you can easily see out towards the river. This walk may have begun two dozen metres below ground, but now we're high above. It's quite a workout, both vertically and horizontally, this hike. If you pass through before 11.15pm, there's an extra exit half way along for the Imperial War Museum and the Union Jack Club. But we're not going that way.
Waterloo East: Eventually, after a couple of twists, we reach the station entrance proper. It's an architectural letdown after the Jubilee line, more suburban overbridge than central mainline station. Watch the information boards to work out which way to go, and there's an added peculiarity here... all the platforms are lettered. None of this normal numbered stuff, will it be A or B or C or D?
ramp ↓: Here begins the descent proper, a long sloping ramp, dropping a little more sharply than the previous passageway.
Platform A: Any platform will do, but I've selected the main platform for those heading to the suburbs. Check out Sweet Express while you wait for trains to Woolwich or Gillingham, or grab a coffee from Aromas cafe, which is more likely to be open. What you can't do, if you walk right down to the far end of the platform, is frequent the Cappucino & Espresso Bar, because that's exceptionally closed and has been for some time. There are some fine views here - the Shard ahead, the Eye behind.
staircase ↓: Look, it's old-fashioned stairs! There's none of this Jubilee step-free stuff on the suburban railway.
passageway: This is a bit dull, and a bit grey, and more than a bit quiet. The stairs from platforms A, B and C deposit you here.
ticket gates: This is a bit odd. Ahead is a row of ticket barriers, those to exit Waterloo East station...

ticket gates: ...and immediately in front is another row of ticket barriers, those to enter Southwark station. You might find one set open, or you might not, touching in twice to leave one system and enter another. It's really quiet here in this big ticket hall, or it is outside the weekday rush hour, and yet there's always some poor member of staff sitting here bored out of their skull waiting to assist anyone who gets stuck, if anyone ever does.
escalator ↓ 13m: At last, a stylish descent. This escalator starts off at street level - you'll see people walking past outside the window. And then we're off back beneath the ground, for the first time since fourteen paragraphs ago.
passageway: At last we're back inside the modern Jubilee line again. It's a very quiet link, this, which you can tell from how incredibly empty the litter bags are. Further along, where those descending from the street merge, they're full of wrappers and empty coffee cups. Here on the link to Waterloo East they contain virtually nothing.
landing: And this is fantastic, possibly the best bit of architecture on the entire Jubilee line extension. A blue glass wall, made from equilateral triangles, rises in a sweeping curve supported by parallel concrete struts. Reflected light streaks the wall with white and grey stripes, giving the appearance of some exotic mineral ore, like we're in a cave or something. The effect's been ruined slightly by one of those busking semicircles daubed on the floor, but I love it here. It is perhaps no coincidence that one of TfL's main office blocks is immediately outside this station.
escalator ↓ 9m: Completely out of scale with the surrounding chamber is a pair of escalators, each burrowing down separately into the surrounding earth. Ride the narrow tube downward, it's an unusual experience, in futuristic silver.
staircase ↓: And woo,a wide open space again. A long high chamber runs between the two Jubilee line tunnels, with one final staircase leading down to platform level. Each has an illuminated top, curving to a point like an Art Deco ocean liner, as an added decorative flourish. Marvellous stuff.
SOUTHWARK: And here we are, at last, at the station nextdoor to Waterloo. The platform is entirely understated in comparison with everything else, but has a simple elegance with its grey walls and indented squares. At which point the obvious thing to do is to catch the next train out. It's less than a minute back to Waterloo, which is less than 500 metres away via the Jubilee line. But how much more interesting it was to walk the station-to-station journey; up, and above ground, and along, and back down again.

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