The first major Tube extension this century opens on Monday 20 September, with the first train from Battersea Power Station departing at 5.28am, bringing key parts of south London within 15 minutes of the West End and the City.
In sharp contrast to the challenges faced by the Crossrail project (Elizabeth Line), Transport for London has stayed on course with its smaller, less complex £1.1bn project to extend the Northern Line with a new 1.9 miles branch and two new fully-accessible stations.
It completes a project first mooted in 1983 – then in an entirely different form – with ‘high-speed bullet trains’ planned to run from London Victoria station’s platform one, directly to the former power station which would have been turned into a theme park. Although the project started work in 1987, including removing the power station’s roof, it collapsed in 1989 through lack of funding.
Since then the iconic power station site has been at the centre of a raft of planning wrangles until being redeveloped, along with the adjacent derelict Nine Elms site, mainly for residential properties in the current scheme.
When the Zone 1 stations at Battersea Power Station and Nine Elms open their doors on Monday 20 September, they put this area of south London on the Tube map for the very first time.
Construction on the 3km twin-tunnel railway between Kennington and Battersea Power Station, via Nine Elms, began in 2015. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the construction project stayed on track for an autumn opening.
There will be an initial peak time service of six trains per hour on the extension, which runs from Kennington station on the Charing Cross branch, increasing to 12 trains per hour by mid-2022. There will be five trains per hour during off-peak times, doubling to 10 trains per hour next year.
TfL has delivered the Northern Line Extension £160m under budget, bringing its estimated final total cost to £1.1bn, despite the cost pressures brought about by the pandemic. The spending authority budget was increased to £1.26bn in January 2016, but TfL worked hard to ensure the project provides strong value for money.
Final preparations including paving and landscaping work at the front of both stations, and commissioning of ticket machines, ticket barriers and advertising screens are also underway. In addition, the world-famous Tube map has been updated to include the two new Northern line stations – bringing the total number of Tube stations on the London Underground network to 272, of which 88 are step-free from street to train.
The new map will go up in stations prior to the launch, as well as being available as a pocket Tube map featuring new cover artwork from British artist Helen Cammock, online at the TfL website and on the TfL Go app.
Carl Painter, London Underground Area Manager responsible for the two new stations, said: “There is a palpable air of excitement behind the doors in both of our state-of-the-art new stations as around 100 staff get ready to welcome customers from Monday.
“London Underground stations have a long history of helping to define a neighbourhood’s identity, in gluing communities together and providing a highly visible landmark that helps visitors to navigate. We look forward to welcoming customers to the newest additions to the Tube network next week.”
Priscilla Smartt, Customer Services Supervisor at London Underground, working at the new Battersea station, said: “Working at a new Tube station from the day it opens is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. I can’t wait to welcome customers through the doors and see the excitement on their faces as they discover our new stations for the first time.”
Work is also nearing completion on Art on the Underground’s major new permanent artwork by London-based Brazilian artist Alexandre da Cunha, which has been installed at Battersea Power Station Underground station ahead of the opening.
The Northern Line Extension is the first major Tube extension this century and is supporting around 25,000 new jobs and more than 20,000 new homes. In addition, construction of the extension boosted the UK economy and supported around 1,000 jobs, including 79 apprenticeships.
The Elizabeth Line is now due to open “in the first half of next year” says TfL.
Timeline of the Northern Line Extension:
- 2014: Secretary of State granted Transport and Works Act Order (November)
- 2015:Start of major construction works (November)
- 2017:Two tunnel boring machines – Helen and Amy – launched at Battersea (March) and broke-through at Kennington (November) – named in honour of the first British astronaut, Helen Sharman, and British aviation pioneer, Amy Johnson, who was the first female pilot to fly solo from Britain to Australia
- 2018:Tunnelling work undertaken for new customer passageways linking platforms at Kennington Tube station
- 2019:Completion of track installation throughout the NLE. Engineering train travels the length of the extension for the first time (June)
- 2020: Power supplied to stations (November) and energisation of track (December). Start of dynamic testing with first test passenger train travelling the length of the extension (December)
- 2021: Trial operations begin (July); start of passenger services on 20 September
About the Northern Line Extension:
- The last major Tube extension was the Jubilee Line Extension, which opened in 1999
- From Monday to Saturday, the first train will depart from Battersea Power Station at 05:28 and the last train will depart from Kennington to Battersea Power Station at 00:48. On Sundays, the first train will depart from Battersea Power Station at 07:12 and the last train will depart from Kennington to Battersea Power Station at 23:57. The first two trains of each day will be a shuttle between Battersea Power Station and Kennington
- All of the northern terminuses on the Northern line (High Barnet, Mill Hill East and Edgware) will have trains running to/from Battersea Power Station. Customers are, however, advised to take the first train and change where necessary
- Following the increase in funding authority in January 2016 to £1.26bn, through extensive value engineering and strong collaboration with suppliers, the project cost has been reduced by £160 million. This is a significant achievement that demonstrates TfL’s ability to deliver predictable outcomes when it comes to major complex infrastructure projects