The Northern Line Extension has seen a major milestone reached as Transport for London (TfL) begins the start of trial operations on the new 3km twin-tunnel railway between Kennington and Battersea Power Station, via Nine Elms.
TfL is now running Northern line trains through the new tunnels every weekend to allow the railway and supporting systems to be tested at as close to an operational service as possible.
This comes ahead of the planned opening of the extension in the autumn of this year; with the Northern Line Extension intended to help the economic recovery in the capital during the second half of the year.
As part of the trial operations, four trains are being run through the extension hourly at weekends.
Once the extension opens, there will be an initial peak time service of six trains per hour, increasing by mid-2022 to 12 trains per hour. During off-peak times, there will be five trains, doubling to 10 by the mid-2022 date.
Throughout the trial period, operations and maintenance staff are testing all the systems required to keep the extension running, and existing Northern line train drivers will complete necessary familiarisation training on the route.
Later this summer, around 100 members of station staff will also undertake training to become familiar with the two new step-free stations at Nine Elms and Battersea Power Station.
TfL will also complete a number of other test exercises ahead of opening too, including trial emergency evacuations, to test safety procedures.
Lifts, escalators and ticket machines are all in place at both new stations and final testing and commissioning of these assets underway and due to be completed in the coming weeks.
Heidi Alexander, Deputy Mayor for Transport said: “The beginning of trial operations on the Northern Line Extension marks a major milestone in the project and it's really exciting to see final training and testing taking place.
“When the extension opens this autumn, it will make a real difference to transport links south of the river, supporting thousands of new jobs and homes and boosting London's recovery.”
Stuart Harvey, TfL's Director of Major Projects, added: “The start of trial operations on the Northern Line Extension means we are now counting down to opening the first major Tube extension this century.
“It's been a collaborative effort to get to this milestone, and we've worked closely with suppliers and stakeholders to make progress on the project, despite the challenge of the pandemic.
“We have been running isolated test trains through the extension since late 2020 but the successful integration of its software and signalling with the rest of the Northern line means the trials to test safety and reliability can start.
“It's a busy time as we will also be training the drivers and station staff so they are ready to welcome our first customers.”