Plans to upgrade Leyton tube station in East London have received a boost after the Mayor of London approved additional funding to complete design work on the plans for the station.
Currently, Leyton station is frankly, a fairly basic shed above tracks type of tube station in need of refurbishment, but is also overcrowded during the rush hours. The overcrowding can result in queues in the morning building up outside the station, where the pavement is quite narrow. In the evening, crowds can build up on the platform waiting to leave, and can still be there when the next train arrives to disgorge more passengers. At times, the station has to open the emergency staircase to help crowds get out of the station.
The proposals will see a new ticket hall built next to the existing ticket hall which would be over three times the size of the old one, with 8 passenger gates, compared to the existing 5 gates.
New staircases will land near the centre of the platforms rather than near the western end meaning that crowding is likely to be reduced and boarding/alighting less skewed. The station would also gain step-free access with new lifts being added. The increased size of the ticket hall and the setback of the ticket barrier gateline will mean that crowding out onto the street is significantly reduced, if not eliminated.
With around 7,000 homes being built within one kilometre of the tube station, the upgrade would see the station capacity expanded to cope with projected demand for the area up to the 2040s.
The cost of the upgrade is put at around £18-£20 million, and in January 2019, Waltham Forest council agreed to fund £9 million of the cost, with the rest to be supplied by TfL. However, the pandemic put the project on hold, and the post-pandemic financial situation means that it’s unlikely to go ahead in the short term unless developer funding can be found to fill the gap.
In order to ensure that the project will be “shovel-ready” if funding can be found, the Mayor of London has agreed to provide £500,000 to TfL to cover the cost of TfL staff who had been working on the concept plans for the upgrade. The work on the plans was suspended in Spring 2021 as TfL paused all non-essential work. The team resumed work in October 2021, but TfL’s budget only covered the costs to March 2022.
In order to avoid the planning work stopping, and the loss of experience about the project as the team is disbanded, the Mayor’s office agreed to fund the design work to completion. That means the TfL will also be in a stronger position to understand the final cost of the upgrade project when going out to seek funding to carry out the construction work.
A TfL spokesperson said: “The approval of a GLA grant will enable us to complete the initial plans for station improvements at Leyton, including details of the programme and cost estimates for both detailed design and construction. We will continue discussions with both the London Borough of Waltham Forest and GLA on how the wider programme can be funded and delivered. While this is a positive step for the project, future enhancement programmes like Leyton remain dependent on securing sufficient long-term funding from Government.”
At the moment, the expected timeline is that the planning work will be completed later this year, and if TfL is able to find the funding for the project, then the design contract could be issued as soon as next year, with the construction work starting in April 2023 and the enlarged station being completed in the summer of 2026.
Once completed, the existing entrance will be closed.