A bank of new escalators opened this morning at Bank tube station, creating a direct stairs-free link between the DLR and Northern lines for the first time.
Before today, most people arriving at Bank on the DLR during rush hour would use one of two narrow escalators up to a landing area, then a corridor around the corner to some narrow stairs down to the Northern line. From this morning, the bank of new standard-sized escalators links the DLR directly to the Northern line platforms, without any stairs.
New lifts between the DLR, Northern line and the streets will be added later this year when a new entrance to Bank station opens on Cannon Street.
Visually, the change is dramatic.
A wider taller corridor has been cut out of the space between the two DLR platforms, with the three new escalators and a very large sign to the Northern line.
On the DLR’s arrival platform, the signs to the Northern line that used to point to the exit at the front of the train now point to the new exit about halfway down the platform. Once people get used to the new route, that’ll reduce the crowding at the front of the train, as Northern line (and later Central line) passengers will find it more convenient to be in the middle of the train than at the front.
At the top of the escalators, they feed into the wide passages linking to the Northern line that opened in May. Up here at the top of the escalators is also the passageway that’ll open later this year with a moving walkway to the Central line.
TfL estimates that the new escalators could shave up to nine minutes off the time it takes for people arriving on the DLR to get to the Northern line. Apart from personal comfort, if you can move out of the cramped DLR platforms faster, then that’s safer for everyone and a lot less claustrophobic.
Around 40% of people using Bank station are swapping between lines, so the new route isn’t just a benefit for them, but by reducing crowding on the existing escalators, which improves passenger flow for people leaving the station.
Bank station already has 19 escalators and will have 27 once the Bank station upgrade works are complete, the largest number on the Tube network.
Stuart Harvey, Chief Capital Officer at Transport for London, said: “Anyone familiar with the previous layout at Bank station will know that it was confusing and constrained, leading to frequent congestion and long interchange times. From today, the journeys of customers interchanging between the Northern line and DLR will be hugely improved, with three new escalators whisking them between these lines and shaving up to nine minutes off their journeys. The countdown continues for the completion of this complex upgrade which is on track to transform Bank station into a modern, flagship gateway to London’s financial centre.”
The project has been a huge one — and funded by London.
On my visit, a couple of Dragados engineers were taking selfies in front of what they built. And why not.
The opening of the new interchange between the Northern line and DLR platforms comes as London continues to recover from the pandemic. Weekday Tube ridership has grown to around 70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels with around three million journeys now being made on the Tube each day. Tube ridership at stations defined as ‘City’ stations – including Bank – is now at around 65 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, up from around 33 per cent in January. Weekend Tube ridership is now regularly above 85 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.