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Underground set to undergo biggest capacity expansion ever

The Underground is set to see the biggest increase in its capacity in history as Transport for London (TfL) published its plans for the coming year.

The papers, published along with its business plan ahead of a board meeting on 15 December, reveal plans to achieve a peak service of 36 trains an hour on the Victoria Line from May 2017.

Preparatory signalling work at Brixton and fan and air chilling system upgrades have been completed. However, signalling work at Northumberland Park depot and Walthamstow and substation ventilation works still need to be finished.

This will be followed by plans to introduce 36 trains an hour on the Jubilee Line from 2021, and to deliver a 33% increase in capacity on the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines by 2023.

To achieve this, TfL will install automatic train control signalling on the four lines and run the trains at a traction voltage of 750V instead of 630V.

The report, written by transport commissioner Mike Brown, noted that migration to the higher voltage will take place in stages, as TfL ensures existing systems and equipment are compatible.

A contract for new rolling stock on the Piccadilly Line will be announced in autumn 2017 after a number of trains were taken out of service because of safety concerns.

In a separate statement, Sadiq Khan, mayor of London, said: “Our plans over the next five years include modernising major Underground stations, bringing forward plans to extend the Bakerloo Line, and investing record amounts in cycling and cleaning up London’s air.

“The greatest city in the world must also have a genuinely world-class transport system, and this is vital for the future success of London’s economy. Today sets out the scale of our ambition.”

Bakerloo Line extension update

The completion date for the Bakerloo Line extension was also brought forward from 2031 to 2028-29 as the board was asked to approve another consultation into the proposals. A year ago, TfL confirmed that the extension will go ahead after choosing a route from Elephant & Castle to Lewisham via Old Kent Road as the most cost-effective option.

The consultation, due to begin on January 2017 and run for 10 weeks, will focus on the following proposals:

  • An upgraded ticket hall and platform concourse at Elephant & Castle to accommodate the growth in demand
  • New Tube stations in the northern and southern parts of Old Kent Road
  • A new Tube station providing interchange to the London Overground and National Rail services at New Cross Gate
  • A new Tube station providing interchange to the National Rail and DLR services at Lewisham station
  • New ventilation and intervention shafts, located between the Elephant & Castle and northern Old Kent Road stations, between New Cross Gate and Lewisham stations, and at the line end overrun tunnels beyond Lewisham station

The extension is estimated to cost £3.1bn, above the previous estimate of £2.57bn. The papers revealed that TfL has already identified sources for raising £1bn of this, including the 25,000 new homes due to be built along the line, and developments on the land it owns around the stations.

It will also lobby the government to establish an Enterprise Zone around the line, allowing business rates retention to fund the development, and to allow it to retain part of the stamp duty on the new homes.

Other TfL priorities include upgrading Victoria, Bond Street, Finsbury Park, Camden and Holborn stations; exploring rolling out the Night Tube on other lines; and increasing step-free access.

(Image c. Metronet)

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Brian   08/12/2016 at 21:43

630V & 750V are voltages not currents. If the voltage is increased the current will be less for a given train at a given speed, loading, gradient, etc.

James Miller   09/12/2016 at 08:25

I'm unsure about these plans, as I think that there is no project in the mix, that can deliver a large risk-free return and too much is resting on Crossrail being a raging success, for developers to cough up money and to get an Enterprise Zone around the Bakerloo Line.

Matt HB   09/12/2016 at 11:46

Little worried that there is no mention of Crossrail 2 on here? Surely the design work for that should be underway now?

Jerry Alderson   09/12/2016 at 15:13

Ironic, is it not, that a line built back in the late 1960s will have 36tph in 2017 but the most recently opened line, substantially extended in 1999, will take until 2031 achieve 36tph. Is it possible that 2031 is a typo? If not, that is very precise forward planning for what is a technical upgrade.

James Miller   09/12/2016 at 17:02

Dear old Vicky! If they double-ended Walthamstow Central and built a reversing loop at Brixton under Herne Hill, they might even squeeze 40 tph out of her. Also, from 2018, the Northern City Line will be running more new 717 trains between Highbury and Islington and Moorgate, so this will link Vicky to the City and Crossrail. As to the Jubilee Line, Wikipedia says it's 2019. So there is a typo somewhere. I have given up using the Jubilee between London Bridge and Waterloo/Charing Cross, by using Charing Cross trains, as they are easier to get to when I arrive at London Bridge by bus. So that section of the Jubilee is now effectively four-tracked.

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