Mapping the Development of

Step-free Access Across

London’s Rail Network

Step-Free London

Mapping the Development of

Step-free Access Across

London’s Rail Network

May Step-Free Achievements

Ignoring the glaring delays with the opening of Meridian Water station, now scheduled for 3rd June, and the never-ending work at Waterloo, this month has had a surprising amount of positive news with regards to step-free access. From a newly step-free suburban station to ambitious revised plans in the heart of the Square Mile, we have much to celebrate!

New Step-Free Access

The main news is that Chessington South is now fully accessible via a new footpath. Being a terminus and only using a single platform, this is a perfect example of providing much-needed accessibility without requiring heavy reconstruction or disruption.

New Projects Break Ground

As one scheme ends, two appear to take its place. In this past week alone, step-free access works have begun at Harrow-on-the-Hill (Metropolitan line and Chiltern Railways) and Coulsdon South (Southern and Thameslink). These schemes are on track to be finished by early 2020, so hopefully these projects will be a success and not just another missed deadline.

Expansion at Stratford

One of London’s most chaotic interchange station, Stratford, is set to receive a welcome boost in capacity and resilience with a new western entrance to the station next to the Jubilee Line. In addition to creating easier access to the sprawling station, the scheme includes the installation of new lifts, which will definitely improve the reliability of step-free access at Stratford.

Crossrail West Update

In the often-forgotten Western branch of the Elizabeth Line, step-free access works are quietly moving along. At Iver, a quiet station between the limits of Greater London and Slough, the construction of a new accessible footbridge and station building is now well underway.

Despite the multiple frustrating delays we have seen with the Elizabeth Line, it is great to see the project moving towards completion.

Full Access at Bank(?) and Finsbury Park

Very surprisingly, the ongoing works at Bank station, which will create a new entrance with step-free access to the DLR and the Northern line, will potentially be even more ambitious. After commissioning a feasibility study, TfL has identified a viable option to bring step-free access to the famously curved Central line platforms (paywall). From the article:

“Step-free access to the Central line at the London Underground station had not been included in the original scope of the project, due to concerns over the degree of technical and engineering challenges that would need to be overcome to carry out the work. This included the curvature of the Central line platforms, and the proximity of other interchange stations in the City of London.

However, a feasibility study was commissioned by TfL earlier this year to look at whether previously dismissed step-free access could be provided, after concerns were raised by several TfL board members that it was not part of the current upgrade plans.

The new TfL Programmes and Investment board paper published ahead of its meeting next week, said as a result of the feasibility study, a viable technical option for street to platform step free access had been identified, with an estimated cost of £30M.”

This would mean that the entirely of Bank station (not Monument, unfortunately) would ultimately be step-free. There is still much discussion required before this additional work is confirmed, but it is a step in the right direction and shows that TfL is willing to re-evaluate previous decisions.

Speaking of welcome changes, it appears as if Finsbury Park WILL get step-free access for Thameslink and Great Northern northbound services. The step-free works at Finsbury Park have been a hybrid, encompassing Control Periods 5 (2014-2019) and 6 (2019-2024) as well involving both Network Rail and TfL. And so, the works to add lift to the remaining platforms will begin this Autumn as part of Access for All and will be completed in 2021.

Norwood Junction plans

Finally, plans to make Norwood Junction fully step-free are moving forward, although without an expected completion date. More information on this scheme, which is tied to the remodelling of East Croydon, is due next month.

New Accessible (and slightly less accessible) Trains

Moving onto new rolling stock, long overdue new Overground trains are now popping up on the Gospel Oak to Barking Line (GOBLIN). These will also replace existing train on the Overground routes starting from Liverpool Street and Euston. Unfortunately, just like the Elizabeth Line trains, they do not offer level boarding at existing stations.

On the other hand, the first Intercity level boarding Stadler Rail train has been delivered. It has even made its way to Liverpool Street. It shouldn’t be long before these trains are in service and we get widespread level boarding on the existing National Rail network for the first time!

Longer Accessible Journeys

Finally, in news that should not surprise anyone, a recent accessibility trial found that, on average, step-free public transport journeys take approximately 50% longer than inaccessible alternatives. In addition to inaccessible stations, the study found that factors such as uneven pavements and issues with the bus ramp also contributed to this disparity.


  1. Hey there! I think you made a funny typo in the new trains for GOBLIN line section lol. Gospel Oak to Barking line. Since Norwood Junction is planning to be step-free, I’m intrigued whether they are considering Penge West

    1. Haha thanks!! Penge west was discussed by london travelwatch as an affordable scheme. I guess it depends on the passenger numbers

  2. Typo : Goblin Oaks instead of Gospel Oaks

    I went to Maidenhead today and despite having an awkward seat traveling backwards I noticed how work re lifts, stairs and platform lengthening was underway at many stations .

    The problems with the Central Line arises from those building the line not wanting to compensate owners of buildings above and so the tunnels were squeezed together due to narrow street above . A missed opportunity was the construction of Crossrail where instead of building the tunnels and platforms either side of the Central Line ( similar to how the Victoria Line was built) it was built north of the Central Line leading to long interchanges and no change to Central Line.

  3. Meridian Water Station was finally opened today by Chris Grayling with Deputy Mayor Heidi Alexander. With closure of Angel Road Station last Friday.

    This development demonstrates how benefits can be obtained by relocating stations to match today’s world instead of how locality was in Victorian times .

    While in some places relocating platforms on one line could provide new interchanges to overcome the problems where separate private rail companies built their own stations to collect fare revenues with no thought of interchange with what they regarded as competitors.

  4. While the news at Meridian Water Station is positive the position at Goodmayes Station is not so good with no sign of work actually happening at tge station today and while some lifts look complete no work to replace the old stairs was underway. With temporary props holding up the old stairs and platform with pile drives and metalwork.

    Given how close Goodmayes Station is to adjacent stations perhaps the best solution would be to close the station to allow a total rebuilding to take place free of passengers?

  5. TFL has published its new Step Free Access Map for May 2019 which shows the Waterloo and City Line highlighted. However, at Bank Station it fails to mention use of new entrance and at Waterloo Station it says you can only leave W&C Line !

    I also notice that someone still thinks the District Lines uses different D stock as same platform information still shows R for District Line and A for Hammersmith and City Line when both lines use the same trains .

    I reckon we are close to next Station becoming accessible as another Station useually becomes step free when a new map is produced!
    Link to new map –

    1. I don’t know what to think about Waterloo to be honest. First, the lift down to the W&C line isnt working yet, but more importantly, there is a route to ENTER the line, but it is through a fairly steep ramp. Once the lift opens, my husband and I can give the ramp a try to see if it is safe to use on an electric wheelchair, but it feels a bit silly to pretend there is no access at all to this platform. Also, Im not sure about its R designation, as both platforms have platform humps. I will have to go back myself and make a judgment once the lift is open. and yes I reckon the next station to become accessible will be Gidea Park.

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