Lambeth Council held a public meeting on the 10 September where residents were invited to raise any queries or concerns they had related to the proposed extension to the Northern Line. At that meeting officers undertook to take those comments away and investigate them further and to provide answers once they had them.
Lambeth officers and the council’s technical consultant Ramboll have been working through the issues raised and are proposing a follow-up meeting to give an update on where they are and allow residents to engage in discussion on outstanding issues. The meeting will be from 6pm – 9pm on Tuesday 4 December in the South Lambeth Library, 180 South Lambeth Road, SW8 1QP. An agenda will be circulated prior to the meeting and it is likely that it will take the same format as the September meeting with each different area dealt with in turn.
You do not need to register to attend this meeting but to help estimate numbers in advance it would be useful if you could email firstname.lastname@example.org to indicate whether you will be attending.
Ramboll's work and the meeting are focused on some of the practical issues around the construction and operation of the project. However, some residents have been questioning whether the Northern Line Extension is the best transport option to be pursuing. Lambeth officers have provided the following briefing explaining some of the reasons why TfL is pursuing the Northern Line Extension:
Reason for Choice of the Northern Line Extension
The NLE has been identified by TfL as the only viable option that will provide enough public transport capacity in the long term to accommodate the scale of development proposed for the VNEB Opportunity Area. This note explains the rationale behind this decision.
Five development scenarios were initially investigated for the VNEB Opportunity Area ranging from low levels of development to significant increases in jobs and residents. A transport study was commissioned by TfL in order to identify the level of public transport provision that would be required to support the amount of development proposed for each of these scenarios.
This transport study identified a range of public transport improvements that would be required ranging from a series of bus based improvements for the low level scenarios to proposals that provided significant amounts of additional capacity for the high level scenarios.
It was eventually decided that a revision of Scenario 5 with 16,000 new dwellings and 24,000 new jobs would be pursued. The transport study had identified that the only 2 interventions that would provide enough capacity to accommodate this level of development were tube or tram-based options. These would provide direct, high speed connections to central London with much more capacity than could be accommodated by additional bus routes. Without this route the public transport system would be unlikely to cope with the additional demand.
Tube based option
The tube based option forms an extension to the Northern Line from Kennington. This is the easiest option to deliver because of the terminating tracks on the Charing Cross branch which allow an extension to be delivered without directly affecting the rest of the line.
Four initial route options were proposed. These were:
1. A direct line from Battersea to Kennington,
2. A mid-station at Vauxhall to allow interchange with the Victoria Line,
3. A station close to the proposed US Embassy, and
4. A station on Wandsworth Road (Sainsbury’s).
The first two options were discounted by TfL as not providing effective relief for Vauxhall station to accommodate significant levels of additional trips relating to developments at the northern end of the OA such as New Covent Garden Market, Sainsbury’s, CLS, etc.
In particular, although the second option would have provided interchange between the Northern and Victoria Lines TfL has always raised significant concerns that Vauxhall station would be unable to cope with additional numbers of passengers. This relates both to those entering the station to use the Northern Line at peak times leading further congestion within the station, and those interchanging onto the Victoria Line which would be likely to have implications for capacity before trains reach the more strategic part of the line at Victoria. For this reason, TfL has never supported this option.
Of the remaining options, that which provides most benefit for Lambeth residents is the 4th option with a station at Wandsworth Road (Sainsbury’s). This option provides the best improvements to public transport accessibility levels in Lambeth compared to the US Embassy option which would have been on the western side of the railway viaduct. This was also the most supported option in the public consultations that were undertaken in 2010 and 2011.
The possibility of creating a branch from the Victoria Line was considered but dismissed due to operating concerns. The Victoria Line is congested north of Vauxhall in the morning peak and the addition of additional passengers would lead to capacity problems on more strategic parts of the line further north from Vauxhall. The existing service to Brixton would have been affected by the loss of services as the trains would have had to alternate between Brixton and Battersea.
Tram based option
The tram-based option was originally devised as a connection from Battersea Power Station along Nine Elms Lane to Vauxhall, Albert Embankment and Waterloo where it would connect with the Cross River Tram (CRT). The CRT was, however, dropped from the TfL business plan following the Mayoral election in 2008.
The two main reasons why this is not supported by TfL are:
1. Impact on Vauxhall gyratory.
The tram route was proposed to run through the gyratory which is already operating close to capacity and the impact on traffic flow was deemed unacceptable by TfL. One of the Council’s key aims is the removal of the gyratory, with significant improvement to the public realm, and officers are currently in discussions regarding this. It is unlikely that a tram route could be accommodated in these proposals due to the impact on capacity. It is likely that the provision of a tram route would compromise the Council’s aim.
2. Interchange implications.
The tram was proposed to connect with the CRT at Waterloo which would have provided a direct route into central London without the need to change at Waterloo. Without the CRT, all those using the tram would arrive at Waterloo and need to change to alternative modes of transport. Waterloo is the busiest station in London and there are already issues relating to interchange from train to tube and bus. For example, there are currently long queues for buses at peak times and it is likely that the interchange could not cope with the additional passengers.
TfL also raised concerns about potential interchange implications at Vauxhall station, with a potential increase in passengers looking to change to the Victoria Line.
Other Public Transport Improvements
The transport study identified that either a tube or tram based option would be the only solutions to provide the long term public transport capacity required to accommodate additional development trips. However, the Council has always stated that a wider transport strategy, with a significant emphasis on bus improvements, is required and that this would link the new developments to existing residents and businesses in Lambeth. Such improvements formed a key part of the Council’s initial support for the NLE.
The VNEB transport study showed that bus improvements would be required in the short to medium term, until the high capacity improvements were constructed. Given the number of developments that have now obtained planning permission TfL is currently undertaking an initial study into short term bus improvements and the Council will feed into this study to ensure that the proposals provide the required level of improvements to Lambeth residents.
Issues raised on the NLE
The Council has received a lot of correspondence from residents regarding the NLE. In order to be able to respond to these issues and ensure that TFL, as scheme promoter, takes them on board the Council has engaged consultants Ramboll to act on its behalf and provide advice. At present Ramboll are reviewing the work done to date on behalf of Treasury Holdings and latterly TfL. It is hoped that they will continue to advise the Council on the Environmental Impact Assessment that TFL is required to submit in support of the Transport and Works Act application.
The need for the NLE is development led, with significant additional transport capacity being required to accommodate the additional trips that will be generated by all developments in the VNEB OA. The Planning Framework concludes that in order to enable and support a revised scenario 5 development a package of strategic transport measures, supported by a series of more local transport improvements will be required to support growth and development of the OA. These include:
• An optimum package of bus service enhancements including the introduction or extension of bus routes
• An extension to the Northern -Line, from Kennington to Battersea Power Station, with an intermediate stop in the Nine Elms area
• Improvements to the National Rail, Underground stations and interchange facilities at Vauxhall and Battersea Park stations
• A step change in the walking and cycle environment both within and to/from the OA and ensuring improved legibility and connections
• An approach to development which reduces the need to travel by car/reduces the number of private vehicle trips within the OA
• Improving conditions for taxis, coaches, freight and river services within and to/from the OA
• Private investment to enable these improvements to be secured and delivered in line with the future development of the area
It can be seen, therefore, that the NLE is not the only transport improvement that will be delivered. The Council has always supported and promoted additional bus enhancements in the area that will be of benefit to Lambeth residents.