A pair of new moving walkways opened this morning at Bank tube station transforming the connection between the Northern and Central lines.
Previously the link between the two lines involved a spiral staircase at the Central line end, a narrow corridor and more stairs to the Northern line, but now there’s a simple wide moving walkway, and a short set of escalators.
So, 62 years after Bank station opened Europe’s first ever travolators, the same station has gained two more moving walkways.
It’s a transformative change and also a change that wasn’t part of the original Bank tube station upgrade plans, but was added when the construction firm uncovered a way of fitting it into the station.
It’s all down to the big upgrade to the Northern line end of the station where the large new southbound platform was constructed. To build that, Dragados came up with a construction method that required the two Northern line platforms to be further apart than had been anticipated, but in doing so, opened up space for a long, and most importantly, very straight corridor between the Northern and Central lines.
And a straight corridor can have a moving walkway in it.
- A few months ago, the new Northern line platform opened.
- A few weeks ago, the new escalators linking the Northern line and DLR opened.
- This morning, the new moving walkway linking the Northern/DLR and Central line opened.
It’s a very long, and very wide corridor, with two moving walkways on either side and a corridor between, so people familair with the Jubilee line at Waterloo station will recognise the layout. Unlike Waterloo, this is a bright white corridor that’s a marked change from the rest of the station.
Step into the light!
And there’s another difference which people who use both will appreciate. The moving walkway at Bank is wider than the walkways used at Waterloo — 1.2 metres wide at Bank, compared to 1 metre wide at Waterloo. That makes it a lot easier for people who walk along the walkway to walk past the people who choose to stand still.
A lot easier.
As it’s situated right at the top of the new DLR escalators, it’s also a far more convenient route between the DLR and Central line, and although there are no lifts at the Central line end, it’s still a more accessible route than the winding staircase that people used to have to use.
As Bank station already has two moving walkways, linking the Waterloo & City line to the ticket office, these moving walkways are numbers 3 and 4. At the Central line end are three new escalators, numbers 23, 24, and 25.
This escalator shaft looks normal, but is an engineering triumph.
Normally, an escalator shaft is dug down from the top to the bottom, but as the top sits between two narrow Central line platforms there simply wasn’t the space for all the equipment so they had to dig upwards from the bottom. That meant they were able to keep the Central line open, and baring the sudden appearance of some wooden shuttering on the platforms, hardly anyone would have known that the work was being carried out.
At the top of the new escalators, a wide concourse has been created, leading to the two Central line platforms, and a newly installed set of barriers on the platforms to control crowds. The visual transition between the dark and narrow Central line platforms and the new moving walkway corridors is dramatic.
Friday is now the quieter working day at Bank station, so opening the moving walkway today saw it mainly being used by people less familiar with the station, and less aware that this is a new addition to the station. So much so, that your correspondent saw a fair number of people using the walkway, then turning around to try and work out what I was photographing.
Surely it’s not that interesting, is it?
Of course it is – especially if you’re a regular user of Bank station who has struggled through that narrow corridor linking the Central line to the other platforms and now have a wide new corridor to use.
It’s not just that the space is so much wider and nicer to use, but it’s also a simpler route to follow, and feels better designed. Almost as if Bank station isn’t the weird maze of bits of a tube station that’s been inelegantly glued together over the past century.
There’s more to come though – later this year a brand new entrance will open on Canon Street, providing a much faster route in/out of the station for people using the Northern line and DLR platforms.
Lincoln Ofokansi, Project Director at Transport for London, said: “The improvements at Bank station keep on coming with the opening today of a much-anticipated new interchange route between the Northern and Central lines. This will help reduce journey times, as well as providing much-needed congestion relief, improved wayfinding for our customers and an easier interchange that avoids the use of stairs when moving between two of the Underground’s busiest lines. This milestone also brings us a step closer to the completion of this hugely complex station upgrade.”