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Northern Line extension opens

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The three-kilometre Northern line extension from Kennington to Battersea Power Station via Nine Elms opened on 20 September 2021. At an event on 16 September, Transport for London (TfL)’s Project Director Martin Gosling and David Darcy, Project Director for the Ferrovial Construction Laing O’Rourke joint venture, led a tour of both new stations and anyone who had not visited this area of London would be amazed at its transformation.

The extension was originally planned to open in 2019, but the original design of the station box at Battersea Power Station had to be altered after the developer decided to build a heavier building on top of the station box than originally agreed. This increased costs and delayed opening until autumn 2021.

Connection completed

In April 2017, two tunnel boring machines were set to work, with break though achieved in November 2017. The connection proper was completed at Kennington. During 2018, four cross passages were constructed at Kennington to improve interchange between the Charing Cross and Bank Branches. In 2019, the track was installed on its concrete base and the first engineers train visited the extension in June 2019. In 2020 the conductor rails were energised and, at Christmas 2020, the first 1995 tube stock train was welcomed under signal control.

The line runs in twin bored tunnels which are connected to the remainder of the Northern line in the loop tunnel that connects the southbound to the northbound tunnels, where, currently, most southbound Charing Cross branch trains turn around for their northbound journeys. There is a scissors crossover at the east end of the Battersea Power Station station box.

Sadiq Khan and Grant Shapps tour the newly opened Northern line extension.

Both stations were constructed as excavated boxes, and the spoil from the stations and tunnel excavations was transported by river to the Tilbury area to renovate the ground in that area. This involved over 700 barge loads carrying 850,000 tonnes of spoil, eliminating over 45,000 lorry movements.

Wide open space

Both stations are incredibly spacious. Nine Elms, the entrance of which is on Wandsworth Road, has a shaft with three escalators going directly from the gateline to the platforms, and there is a very wide space between the platforms, which are wider than is normal for tube stations. TfL owns the air rights above the station and Martin indicated a plan to build affordable dwellings above the station. At Battersea Power Station, opening onto Nine Elms Lane, there is a bank of three escalators down to a long gallery. In time there will be another bank of escalators which will emerge under a tall building that is still under construction.

One notable feature at Battersea Power station is two artworks by artist Alexandre de Cunha. Photos do not do them justice. Stretching 100m and 60m in length, the artwork incorporates two friezes that face each other along the length of the ticket hall.

Now it’s over to Northern Line area manager Carl Painter and his team to deliver an excellent service. Rail Engineer congratulates the construction team and wishes Carl and his team all the best for the future.

Malcolm Dobell BTech CEng FIMechE
Malcolm Dobell BTech CEng FIMechEhttp://therailengineer.com
SPECIALIST AREAS Rolling stock, depots, systems integration, fleet operations. Malcolm Dobell worked for the whole of his 45-year career with London Underground. He entered the Apprentice Training Centre in Acton Works in 1969 as an engineering trainee, taking a thin sandwich course at Brunel University, graduating with an honours degree in 1973. He then worked as part of the team supervising the designs of all the various items of auxiliary equipment for new trains, which gave him experience in a broad range of disciplines. Later, he became project manager for the Jubilee Line’s first fleet of new trains (displaced when the extension came along), and then helped set up the train refurbishment programme of the 90s, before being appointed Professional Head of Rolling stock in 1997. Malcolm retired as Head of Train Systems Engineering in 2014 following a career during which he had a role in the design of all the passenger trains currently in service - even the oldest - and, particularly, bringing the upgraded Victoria line (rolling stock and signalling) into service. He is a non-executive director of CPC Systems, a systems engineering company that helps train operators improve their performance. A former IMechE Railway Division Chairman and a current board member, he also helps to organise and judge the annual Railway Challenge and is the chair of trustees for a multi academy trust in Milton Keynes.


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