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Bank-ing on better travel

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The Elizabeth line will have taken much of the media limelight after the Royal visit, but the momentous work to improve the Bank branch of the Northern line should certainly not be overlooked.

The major event was welcomed by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

This means after 17-weeks of planned closure, with 550 staff working around the clock, passengers can now use the new Northern line tunnel and passenger concourse at Bank.

It will also be easier for travellers to get around thanks to three new passageways built by the teams working on the station, which dates back to 1900.

The 17-week closure saw engineers:

  • Completing the excavation of the remaining 100m of new railway tunnel and lining it with sprayed concrete, in addition to the 1.5km that had already been tunnelled
  • Connecting the new southbound Northern line tunnel to the existing railway
  • Conversion of the former southbound Northern line platform, which was built more than 100 years ago, into a new, spacious customer concourse
  • Installing the remaining 185m of track in the tunnels, in addition to the 490m that had already been laid prior to the closure
  • Installation, testing and commissioning of all the signalling systems needed to operate trains into the new southbound platform
  • Fitting out all areas of the new station, including installing over 1,400m2 of terrazzo tile flooring and more than 1,000 wall panels
  • The installation, testing and commissioning of a new station communication and fire system along with new and improved lighting and signage throughout all the new station areas

During the closure of the Bank branch, essential work was also carried out at other stations including London Bridge, Borough and Elephant & Castle so that future disruption to customers would be minimised. This included work on lifts and escalators, as well as refurbishment work at Borough, and enabling works for the future Elephant & Castle station upgrade.

The good news is that when the upgrade work at Bank finishes later this year there will be an increased capacity of 40 percent. Improvements in the pipeline include step-free access to the Northern line, improved access to the DLR platforms, two new moving walkways, 12 new escalators and two new lifts. There will also be more direct routes within the station and a new station entrance on Cannon Street. 

To get up and running, 650 train drivers, as well as 100 station staff, took part in exercises to familiarise themselves with the new tunnel and improved layout.

On the day of its re-opening, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Today marks the first in a series of transport milestones for our city. The Northern line has fully reopened to customers, on-schedule and to budget, after the successful completion of the latest phase of vital upgrade works at Bank station.

“Bank Station is at the heart of the city and these improvements are the first step towards a modern, accessible, easy to navigate station fit for the twenty-first century.

“We are at a pivotal moment in London’s recovery, and it’s clearer than ever the critical role TfL plays in boosting our economy. It is time that the Government finally accepts that a properly funded transport network in London is an issue of great national importance. Ministers must commit to a long-term funding deal that will protect the capital’s world class transport network and support jobs and growth in London and across the whole country.”

Stuart Harvey, chief capital officer at Transport for London, said: “From today, Northern line customers at Bank station are able to use a new, 5m wide southbound platform and spacious concourse. The old layout was very constrained, leading to frequent congestion, but Northern line customers will now be able to make their journeys much more quickly and easily. I’d like to thank our customers for their patience while the Bank branch of the Northern line was closed, which was essential in enabling us to complete this work. Our construction teams were totally focused throughout the planned closure, which was in place for 120 days, on fully re-opening the Northern line on time. The countdown is now on for finishing the rest of this complex major upgrade later this year, transforming Bank into a modern, flagship station, fit to serve one of the world’s most important financial districts.”

What’s next?

The next phase of works at Bank station will now turn to the key interchange connections which includes the three new escalators linking the Northern line to the DLR, and the two new moving walkways and three new escalators connecting the Northern and Central lines. Bank already has 15 escalators so will have 27 escalators once the works are complete, the largest number on the Tube network.

Wayfinding at Bank station is being improved to make it easier and more intuitive to navigate around the station. Improvements include installing new signage and contrast cladding between interchange corridors and platforms. A new platform hump has been installed on the northbound Northern line platform, and the newly constructed southbound Northern line platform has been raised to provide level access between the train and the platform.

A history of innovation

This is not the first time that Bank has been at the forefront of modernisation. Here is a brief timeline of the station as it adapted and developed over the years:

  • Built in 1900 it was one of only a few Tube stations to have no above-ground buildings.
  • It had electric lifts, following successful installation of this technology at Kennington station in 1898.
  • Pedestrian subways and escalators were installed in the 1920s – these escalators were put between what is now the Northern line and Central line platforms.
  • Trav-o-lators were put in place from September 1930, improving access to Waterloo & City. This has since been altered and is a more commonly-recognised moving walkway.
  • In 1933, escalators were installed between the Bank and Monument stations – the only example of two stations being connected in this way.
  • Bombing in 1941 didn’t stop the station, despite causing 111 casualties. Trains continued to run and it was reopened two months later.

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