London Underground’s Piccadilly line trains won’t be calling at South Kensington tube station for the next year, starting on Saturday 27 February 2021.
There are two banks of escalators serving the Piccadilly line at South Kensington Tube station; two escalators operate between the ticket hall and a mid-concourse level and three escalators operate between the mid-concourse and the Piccadilly line platforms. All five escalators at the station, which were installed in 1973, need to be replaced as they are at the end of their lifespan, have become unreliable and are the highest priority escalators for replacement on the Tube network.
During the works, South Kensington station will remain open for Circle and District line trains, so passengers for South Kensington should take one of those lines.
Prior to the current pandemic, almost 34 million customers boarded or alighted each year at the station. Fortunately, as passenger levels are well down due to lockdown, fewer passengers than normal will be inconvenienced by the works, which should be complete by Spring 2022.
The new escalators will be installed with the latest UV-light sanitising devices, part of TfL’s ongoing efforts to keep services safe for customers with an extensive anti-viral cleaning regime. A successful six-week trial last year, that used ultraviolet (UV) light to clean the handrails on escalators at Heathrow T123 Tube station, showed that these devices improve sanitisation levels on escalator handrails by at least 50 per cent.
London Underground director of asset operations Esther Sharples said: “Replacing the escalators will improve journeys through South Kensington station for years to come and give the station – which is an important gateway to some of London’s most famous cultural attractions – much improved reliability.
“At nearly 50 years of age, they are some of the oldest escalators on the Tube network and have come to the end of their life.
“I’d like to thank customers at South Kensington in advance for their patience while this work is carried out and encourage them to check before they travel.”
London Underground’s escalators are heavy-duty machines and tend to be in operation in both directions for up to 20 hours a day. They weigh around 40 tonnes each and carry millions of people each year. A typical 15-metre rise escalator has approximately 15,000 moving parts.
Twenty-five of the new high-performing escalators of the same type that will be installed at South Kensington Tube station are already in operation at London Underground stations. They have also been installed extensively on the Elizabeth line.