While so much of London’s expansion activity has slowed or become becalmed, work has continued on a major upgrade of the labyrinthine Bank station. And today, Transport for London has announced the completion of the tunnelling part of the work. A whole new southbound section for the Northern line has been finished, forming a key part of a programme to enlarge the station by 40%.
The Bank upgrade has been described by the illustrious London Reconnections as “the forgotten upgrade“. It ought to enjoy a higher profile as an instructive case study of how long Tube network engineering schemes can take. The Bank project’s history stretches back some ten years, with the first public consultation taking place in 2011. A contractor was appointed in 2013. A public inquiry followed in 2015 and at the end of that year TfL secured a Transport & Works Act Order from the government, which gave it a green light for the project to finally get underway.
The contents of that Order are worth spending some time with. They include, for example, a requirement that any human remains found beneath the streets in the project area be removed if the work was going to disturb them, but not before the development company had alerted the public to this by “publishing a notice once in each of two successive weeks in a newspaper circulating in the area of the authorised works” and by “displaying a notice in a conspicuous place on or near to the specified land.” Anyone able to show they were a relative or “personal representative” of the deceased had 56 days to do so and put in writing their intention to remove the remains.
The Order also sets out rules for traffic regulation, compulsory purchase powers, the company’s rights to appropriate subsoil beneath and air-space above streets covered by the Order and to pour water into sewers and drains. To obtain the order, TfL had to submit a pile of documents, including an 85-page Statement of Case.
The station works are complex and extensive involving, says contractor Dragados, the creation of a new entrance (on Cannon Street), three tickets halls, six lifts, new escalators, 10 platforms and two travelators as well the Northern line tunnel and platform, all without disturbing any of the 31 listed buildings along the new tunnel’s route. The current tunnel is being converted into a passenger concourse, with six new cross passages linking the two Northern line platforms. Tunnel construction began in May 2017.
At the end of that year, Architects’ Journal, reported TfL papers saying the project was running a year late and over budget. It had been scheduled to be finished in 2021. Now, with work having re-started in May after a lockdown interruption, TfL says it will open in 2022. The new travelators will link the Northern line with the Central line, which is currently quite a journey in its own right. Assuming everything gets finished without mishaps, all that will be required will be droves of City workers returning to the Square Mile’s Covid-quiet streets and offices.
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