Just when we’ve wrapped our heads around the idea of getting back on the tube again, TFL drops a bombshell: the Northern Line is shutting for four and a bit months next year…

The Northern Line: it’s like a bad boyfriend. One moment it’s hot and hectic, the next it’s nowhere to be seen. Plus on average it comes in two minutes… Well not any more, it doesn’t. Cash-strapped TFL, which recently received two multi-billion pound grants from the government to save it from bankruptcy, has had a root down the back of the sofa and somehow ponied up £700m in loose change to spend on a massive upgrade to Bank station. One that spells complete chaos for anyone who needs to commute between Kennington and Moorgate.

Bank Station, the Underground’s ugliest sister after Seven Sisters, is set to undergo a dramatic nip-tuck starting in January 2022 which will transform the third busiest interchange on the Underground and includes a new southbound Northern Line platform.

Other enhancements include a new station entrance at nearby Cannon Street as well as three quarters of a mile of new tunnels which have already been dug.

the work has apparently been carefully 'sequenced in' by TFL...

Billed as a ‘seventeen week closure’ (which sounds so much better than ‘nearly five month’s closure’) the work has apparently been carefully ‘sequenced in’ by TFL.

Which isn’t exactly confidence-inspiring. TFL has up-until-now had its hands full with breaking all the roads in South West London and beyond to achieve Sadiq Khan’s policy aim of making driving so unbearable that people are forced to jog instead.

Sadiq Khan's policy aim of making driving so unbearable that people are forced to jog instead...

The result of the wildly unpopular and expensive policies has been to pump toxic fumes of idling vehicles into the face of my pushchair-riding baby. Let’s see how they deal with creating subterranean chaos in 20202.

When the works commence in January commuters will need workarounds, likely sending tens of thousands of passengers via already  Oxford Circus each morning.

There is never a right time to do anything like this...

And if your question is ‘Why the flip didn’t they do this over the last 16 months when Bank Station has been virtually empty rather than post-pandemic when it’ll be rammed?’ And the obvious answer is ‘Exactly, I know, right?’

According to TfL managing director for Customers, Communication and Technology Vernon Everitt “While there is never a right time to do anything like this, the prize at the end of the day of a new ‘crown jewel’ that we will have in the centre of the city to attract people back to London… we believe is worth the disruption of a 17-week blockade.”

Many of the tunnels and suchlike have been pre-burrowed...

And the answer is that many of the tunnels and suchlike have been pre-burrowed ahead of the changes being implemented. What’s now required is to connect them up with the existing station.

Which, in effect, means that a much longer closure has been avoided. But nevertheless, expect travel misery, detours and grumpy Londoners in 2022. In other words, the status quo…


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