After an extremely quiet summer and numerous step-free access delays across London, Victoria Station has broken the trend as three lifts started service on Friday. Although the project itself is delayed and still yet to be fully completed, it marks a significant improvement in accessibility. Other schemes expected this summer, such as Bank and TfL Rail, have unfortunately encountered even more delays, such that it is also time to update their completion dates. Finally, TfL’s close partnership with local housing development has progressed step-free access plans at two important Underground stations, Walthamstow Central and Notting Hill Gate.
The long-awaited Victoria Station Upgrade is nearing its final stages. As of this past Friday, there is step-free access from the mainline National Rail station to the Underground station for the first time.
The new lifts offer access to the south ticket hall, the westbound District/Circle line platforms, and the interchange level where one can reach the existing lifts to the Victoria line. The only lift left to open is the one connecting the interchange level to the eastbound District/Circle line platforms and to the Victoria line. Thus, the Victoria line will have two lifts, one to the north and one to the south.
Other than the new journey opportunities that come with the improved accessibility, another important feature is that it is no longer necessary to make a busy and hectic out-of-station interchange from the mainline station to the north ticket hall at Cardinal Place. Now, the full length of the Underground station can be reached from the south ticket hall thanks to the long interchange level tunnels.
As an example of what this opening means, the journey from Victoria to Paddington on the Circle line is now fully step-free, allowing quick access between these two major terminals. The return journey from Paddington to Victoria, which requires reversing at Edgware Road and the missing lift at Victoria, is not ready yet but will probably open in a few days or weeks rather than months.
Delays, delays, delays
Unfortunately, the remaining schemes that were due to open this summer, including most of the TfL Rail West stations and Bank’s W&C line platforms, are even more delayed with no fixed opening dates. The less impactful delay is the one at Bank, as the new step-free entrance will only be useful once step-free access is available at Waterloo, which is scheduled for 23rd December.
The other delay, however, is quite disappointing and follows a steady stream of problematic setbacks associated with the upcoming Elizabeth Line. Delayed new class 345 trains, delayed full TfL Rail service to Heathrow, delayed station works west of Paddington, and finally, a delayed Elizabeth Line core service. With all of these issues, it is not too surprising that the station works east of Liverpool Street are also delayed. These seven stations (Maryland, Forest Gate, Manor Park, Seven Kings, Goodmayes, Gidea Park, and Harold Wood) were meant to be step-free by this summer, but now their completion dates have been extended, ranging from Autumn 2018 to Spring 2019.
Ending on a more positive note, recent collaborations between TfL and developers have led to the announcement of step-free access schemes at Walthamstow Central and Notting Hill Gate. I had previously described the plans for Walthamstow Central, and had refrained from adding the station to the Future Stations Map and List due to the ongoing protests and unestablished timeline. However, the scheme has recently received formal planning consent and work is expected to begin in 2020.
The second scheme at Notting Hill Gate is amazing news. Apart from Crossrail-associated works, there are not many Zone 1 step-free access schemes at interchange stations. Some of those being planned, such as Holborn and Camden Town, are not expected to open before 2025 and require extensive redevelopment in addition to normal step-free access works. Since the works at Notting Hill Gate will be taken up by the developers themselves rather than TfL, I assume that the scheme will not be nearly as elaborate and that it should be ready by the time the towers are finished.
However, there are still many questions surrounding this work. Will it cover both the Central and District/Circle lines? And if it will, will they each have separate entrances (London Bridge-style) to lower the costs? And when will we get a reliable timeline for the whole project’s completion?
Finally, all of these changes and updates mean that there are now updated Maps and Lists:
I have tentatively assigned Victoria a light blue blob (indicating the variable gap along its S-shaped platforms).
As you can see below, the gap is larger than typical dark blue blob stations such as Paddington (District):
However, I found the gap to be smaller than both Westminster’s and Farringdon’s, so this may change depending on how TfL chooses to define the station.
Overall, I plan to eventually overhaul the variable gap designation and provide more detailed information on each station (i.e. where to board to find the smallest gap).
Let’s hope this autumn proves to be more active in terms of step-free access progress!
Nice informative post, thanks!
“The return journey from Paddington to Victoria, which requires reversing at Edgware Road and the missing lift at Victoria…”
Can you describe that journey in more detail? I’ve never tried reversing at Edgeware Road. Is that Circle/H&C towards Liverpool Street, to Circle/District towards High Street Kensington?
So since the Circle Line was broken up in 2009 to be run from Hammersmith to Edgware Road, Edgware Road has become a terminal station for the Circle/District line coming from Paddington (District). Even though TfL refuses to accept it, Paddington (District) is fully step-free going eastbound. Since Edgware Road is only one station away, one can take an eastbound service at Paddington, wait for the train to reverse at Edgware Road, and continue westbound to Victoria/Earl’s Court/etc. I must mention an extra quirk, which is not on my map due to unnecessary complications: Edgware Road also offers cross-platform interchanges between H&C/Circle and District/Circle services. I have read that terminating Circle and District trains use separate platforms, such that you can make different interchanges (eastbound or westbound on H&C line) based on what service you take. However, since the frequency of these services is not terribly high (6 tph for each line), I would instead suggest interchanging at Paddington despite the long interchange time.
How does one get to the Circle/District line at Paddington? I’ve gone out of the station, down past the taxi rank to the lifts to the Circle/H&C, but I’m not sure where Circle/District access is.
So the thing with Paddington is that there are really 2 completely separate tube stations: one with H&C/Circle and the second with District/Circle and Bakerloo. The former has its entrance to the north of the mainline station while the latter is just south of it. When you enter Paddington, there’s a small section full of shops directly opposite the mainline platforms. In that area, theres a lift down to the ticket hall. The District line is directly ahead once you pass the ticket barriers.
Thanks! I never even considered going into that part because I assumed it’s all inaccessible. I’ll check it out next time I’m in Paddington.
Another scheme that was in the Islington Gazette last year was a proposal to re-open the old entrance to Highbury and Islington Station which closed when the Victoria Line opened and reuse old lift shafts which served Great Northern platforms to create step free access to Mainline and Victoria Line platforms and even integrating these with present Station served by Overground.
Plans were in very early stages so will need to wait for more details but has potential to create links to many places especially when one includes Moorgate Stations link to Elizabeth Line,
Article link – http://www.islingtongazette.co.uk/news/revealed-plans-to-re-open-old-highbury-and-islington-station-1-5133291
That would be an amazing development! Unfortunately I have not heard much about this scheme since then…other than this article ( http://www.islingtongazette.co.uk/news/heritage/islington-council-and-tfl-vow-to-protect-the-garage-1-5646846) which details the potential hurdles that the scheme may encounter. That is why I have not added H&I to any future station list.
Just an update to report that hoarding is still in place on eastbound Circle and District lines at Victoria Station today .
While I believe scheme does not include step free access the re-opening of York Road entrance in The Shell Centre development at Waterloo Station looks close to completion with exit 6 from Waterloo Station across York Road due to open next week .
Yeah, I checked Victoria today and there were still hoardings up. They really need to get that sorted, especially with the closures at Green Park.
And that is great news about Waterloo. Even if it’s not a step-free entrance, it should hopefully help direct people away from the crowded mainline station. The opening I am really looking forward to is the redeveloped Eurostar terminal platforms, which will offer access to the Waterloo & City line platforms.
Contacted TFL access on Twitter, they say that the Eastbound platform should be step free by the 17th of this month
Wait really?? That’s huge!!
Was at Victoria Station today and hoardings have been removed at both levels to eastbound platform.
Lower Subway level has a soft screen while platform level has closed fire doors . Suggesting opening is imminent.
Hoarding still in place at platform level for additional Victoria Line lift .
Unofficially, this may open on the 17th.
Lift was still not in service on 17th at 3pm with platform fire doors still closed.
hmm that’s not good news. Have you had a chance to look today?
I wasn’t in London yesterday but used Victoria Station today and the good news is the lift serving the eastbound Circle and District Line platform was operational meaning full step free access is now available at Victoria Underground Station. The only thing I didn’t check was whether this lift was also serving the Victoria Line as lift buttons indicate . Lift was busy with users .
While the escalators from Victoria Line for interchange to Circle and District lines were also back in operation.
There was a problem on Wednesday which closed the Victoria Line south of Victoria so whether this was the reason lifts didn’t open as announced earlier?
With Victoria complete it’s time to look for next Station for full step free access with Finsbury Park a possible candidate given it’s just two lifts serving cross platform Piccadilly and Victoria Lines .
Finsbury Park is, apart from the W&C line, the next major station to get step-free access on the underground lines (not national rail unfortunately). The works are well underway and it should be opening next year.