A brand new entrance has opened at Bank tube station making the Waterloo & City line considerably easier to use, and reducing congestion in the ticket hall for everyone else.
The smart bronze and stone of the mighty Bloomberg Building now gaining the familiar tube roundel poking out from one side to indicate the arrival of a new way down into Bank tube station.
Until this morning, access to the W&C line was via the main ticket hall, then a sloping travolator or staircase down to the tube platforms.
Now, a brand new entrance has opened underneath the new Bloomberg building, with escalators directly down to the tube platforms. It offers a faster route down to the W&C line, and helps divert some traffic away from the ticket hall.
For some users it will also offer an alternative route to the other lines via the tunnel from the W&C platforms.
However, the new entrance is very late in being delivered, having originally been expected to open in late 2015, the opening was pushed back to late 2017 due to delays in completing the concrete box thanks to one of recent year’s most impressive archeological discoveries.
However, although the box was eventually completed by the construction of the Bloomberg building, there has been a long list of delays to works being carried out by London Underground to turn the concrete box into a functioning tube station entrance.
Deadlines were announced, and missed, repeatedly. Problems with the fire doors and the contractor seem to have been the main cause of the recent problems.
However, the latest deadline, of by the end of November, has just about been achieved, with barely a few hours to spare.
A flurry of last minute activity could be seen inside the previously shuttered gates and just at 10am, a lady came out to add the final touch to the new entrance — the tube map.
And, fittingly for a late delivery, the entrance which was expected to open at 10am, opened at 10:15am.
So has the wait been worth it?
Considering the modest entrance, inside is a surprisingly large space, with the usual ticket machines and barriers, and no ticket office.
A bank of escalators take you down to a landing floor, and here, a flourish has been added with a backlit set of graphics showing the Roman heritage of the site.
This was the heart of the early Roman London, and we are going down escalators just as Romans would have walked down what was the steep valley of the Walbrook river.
The backlit wall also creating the pleasing illusion of being in a room with windows and the sun streaming in, which is a little odd this deep underground.
A second bank of escalators take you down to the W&C line platforms, with a patterned ceiling above and adding a bit of decoration to the otherwise fairly unitary concrete, blue panels and steel of the rest of the space.
On the opening morning, the ticket hall was filled with staff who came to see their shiny new thing finally open after so many delays, and down at the W&C line, staff trying to tell passengers streaming off the trains to use the new entrance.
Such is the nature of people that if they see an open door they’ll walk through it, so within seconds of the gates opening, people seeing a tube sign started using the new entrance to get down, then at the bottom following signs to the other tube lines.
Overall the decor — roman panels aside — is a basic design that does the job well, but the most notable effect is the space. There’s a lot of space especially at the lower level that’s in contrast to the cramped tunnels in the rest of the station.
The new entrance adds new escalators to the station, plus an additional lift down to the W&C line, which indirectly improves accessibility to the DLR.
In a few years time, those cramped tunnels will also get a lot larger when the Bank Upgrade Project is completed.