A miniature boarding ramp that can close the gap between tube trains and platforms is to be tested at a number of Jubilee line stations to see if it should be rolled out across the network. The bridging device is the same width as the boarding ramps already in extensive use across the network but is only 200mm in length.

Bridging device (c) TfL

However, a report that’s also just been published by Transport for London (TfL) that looks at how step-free access could be improved also found that people who could use manual boarding ramps avoid them unless they have to. The main reason given for avoiding them was the need to rely on the availability of staff to provide the boarding ramp and the delays that causes. The new mini boarding ramps would be faster to use, but they still rely on station staff being around to provide them.

The trials though will find out if these mini units are easier to use and hence more likely to be of use to people who need them.

Bridging device (c) TfL

The TfL report found that raising the height of platforms to match the tube train would reduce the need for boarding ramps, and while there are the (not quite) Harrington Humps in a number of stations which raise part of the platform, people do need to remember which part of the train to get on, in order to get off at the other end.

Less noticeable, but there has been work over the past few years to reduce the horizontal gap between the train and the platform by replacing the “nosing stones” that line the edge of the platform with larger stones to shrink the gap.

Something else that’s coming soon to reduce the gap between platform and train is the new deep level tube train that’ll initially start appearing on the Piccadilly line from 2025. These are made up of more, but shorter length carriages, which means they can bend closer to the platform at stations with curved platforms, and that reduces the gap between the train and platform.

Ahead of that though, TfL carried out a survey into what it should prioritise for adding step-free access to the London Underground.

TfL’s funding situation as a result of the pandemic has affected the progress of step-free projects. However, TfL says that it will use the results from the consultation to help it understand which stations would be good candidates for future step-free access work.

The report unsurprisingly found that people want more step-free access at tube stations, but there’s disagreement about what areas should be prioritised.

In terms of where TfL should focus efforts in adding step-free access to tube stations, the majority (63%) of respondents said that adding lifts to stations should be evenly spread out across the network, rather than focused into clusters of stations. Spreading out the station upgrades means that people who live close to a station that lacks step-free access might at least be able to take other transport to get to the next station along that does have lifts to the platform.

The survey also found that there’s an acceptance that it might not be possible to make an entire tube station step-free, but there’s a marginal bias in favour of making an entire station step-free as opposed to partially step-free (48% to 33%).

Partial step-free is better than nothing, but also adds confusion as to what is available.

An example could be Bank tube station which is getting lifts to the DLR and Northern lines, but not to the Central line. Likewise, there are plans to add step-free access at Notting Hill Gate station, but only to one platform at the moment.

Ultimately, adding step-free lifts to stations is a combination of cost and engineering capability. Adding lifts to surface-level stations where it’s usually a case of building them next to footbridges is reasonably achievable. However, digging lift shafts into deep-level tube stations often needs to wait for a surface building to be demolished so that the lift shaft can be built. In that situation, the engineering challenge often outstrips the financial one. A recent example of that is Knightbridge station where the redevelopment above ground created the space for lifts to be installed.

In addition, TfL recently submitted a list of 20 stations for consideration for the Department for Transport’s Access for All programme, which provides funding to make stations more accessible.

In summary though, almost all respondents felt providing step-free access to stations across the tube network was important and, if implemented correctly, it can enable more people to access stations and travel on the tube, as well as generally encouraging people to travel more often and improving the travel experience for them.

As well as providing step-free access and facilities at more stations across the London Underground network, respondents highlighted other aspects that can be addressed to improve the accessibility of stations and traveller confidence with making journeys, such as improved signage at stations, information provision at stations and to assist with journey planning, and better awareness in general from both staff and other travellers at stations about all forms of disability including invisible disabilities.

More than half said their usage of the Tube would expand (52%) and that their journeys would be made easier (68%) and less stressful (64%) if their most important Tube stations were made step-free

More than 5,500 people took part in the public consultation.

Seb Dance, Deputy Mayor for Transport said: “We are working hard to improve step-free accessibility across the TfL network in order to build a better, fairer London for everyone. This new trial is one example of how we are seeking out innovative solutions to enhance step-free access. It is also vital that our accessibility plans are informed by disabled and older customers and I am delighted that we have had such a great response to the consultation.”

There are now more than 200 step-free stations across the TfL network. These include 92 tube stations, 62 London Overground stations, all DLR stations and Tram stops. All 41 Elizabeth line stations have step-free access, with the majority of central stations being step-free from street to train.


Be the first to know what's on in London, and the latest news published on ianVisits.

You can unsubscribe at any time from my weekly emails.

Tagged with: ,

This website has been running now for over a decade, and while advertising revenue contributes to funding the website, it doesn't cover the costs. That is why I have set up a facility with DonorBox where you can contribute to the costs of the website and time invested in writing and research for the news articles.

It's very similar to the way The Guardian and many smaller websites are now seeking to generate an income in the face of rising costs and declining advertising.

Whether it's a one-off donation or a regular giver, every additional support goes a long way to covering the running costs of this website, and keeping you regularly topped up doses of Londony news and facts.

If you like what you read on here, then please support the website here.

Thank you

  1. Alex Mckenna says:

    I wonder how they could sort out Oxford Circus. That WOULD be a challenge.

  2. Keith says:

    It’s rather unfortunate that several decades ago when they took out lifts and installed escalators many were installed over the lift shaft. This makes installing a new lift for accessibility a lot more difficult. I gather at Sheppard’s Bush despite its revamp within the past couple decades they were unable to install a new lift for this very reason.

    Ref Knightsbridge worth noting they are in part using an old, previously disused lift shaft for one of their new lifts.

Home >> News >> Transport News