London’s Waterloo and City tube line to be pedestrianised


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London's Waterloo and City tube line to be pedestrianised

Posted 1 April 2010 00:08 by martin

We have learned that Transport for London (TfL) has drawn up detailed plans to pedestrianise the Underground train tunnel between Waterloo and Bank stations.

A confidential report, A Better Way to Bank,  has been circulated to a select group of senior TfL Directors, and we understand it is being viewed favourably by the London Mayor, Boris Johnson.

The tunnel will be transformed into a bright, attractive space with video walls and music, and help 'passengers' collectively burn off the equivalent of 6 million Calories per week (or 200,000 chocolate fingers).

Pedestrianisation of the Waterloo and City line

At only 1.5 miles long, the Waterloo and City line is the shortest tube line on the network.  The report highlights some key factors that favour the line's conversion into a foot tunnel:
  • Cost – maintenance, energy and staffing costs would decrease dramatically, and help TfL meet tough new financial targets
  • Capacity – by allowing people to occupy the whole length of the tunnel, the report states that passenger through-put could be increased by almost 50%
  • Carbon – TfL has calculated that CO2 emissions 'per passenger kilometre' would be cut by around 80%
  Recognising the political risks involved, the report authors make recommendations for how the plan could be sold to Londoners:
  • Users' Oyster cards would be credited by up to £3 per week –  20p for each one-way weekday trip they make, with a £1 'Bank Your Bonus' reward if 10 trips are completed in a single week
  • The tunnels will be finished in high quality materials, with bright high-efficiency LED lighting, and stretches of video walls depicting inspiring scenes of nature from around the world
  • Users will experience atmospheric 'soundscapes' along stretches of the tunnel, including live relays of choral music from St Paul's Cathedral (above them)
We went to Waterloo station to gauge public reaction:

So a mix of views there. But all in all, we are encouraged to see such radical 'blue-sky' thinking from TfL.  It recognises that there's a debate to be had about the increasingly important role that walking can play in meeting key economic, environmental and health challenges.

While we see the merit of the scheme on cold, dark, wet and windy winter evenings, we probably needn't remind people that to see genuine blue sky, there's a rather wonderful above ground route from Waterloo to Bank.


Image: Frazer Payne and tompagenet
Video: Richard Ballard, Vivienne Eguridu, Samira Musa

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  1. Wayne says:

    April 1st, 2010 at 12:14 am (#)

    Excellent idea! ;-D

  2. teeweewonders says:

    April 1st, 2010 at 12:46 am (#)

    LOL – I'm all for it! 😉

  3. April Foal says:

    April 1st, 2010 at 1:05 am (#)

    Yeah? I thought there were plans to flood it and let people row through.

  4. Khaled says:

    April 1st, 2010 at 6:53 am (#)

    Will we see pig flying down the tunnel as well?!

  5. Val says:

    April 1st, 2010 at 9:09 am (#)

    Great idea but a bike path in there as well would make it a fantastic use of space. Spilt the tracks into one pedestrianized area and one bike zone and you wi find a hugely diverse support network to lobby the cause.

  6. Spiny Norman says:

    April 1st, 2010 at 9:09 am (#)

    Sorry, I think this is a daft idea.

    There are many people for whom 1.5 miles is an impossible distance. That includes me at the moment, as I've done in my left knee.

    We mustn't make the same mistake as the cycling lobby, ignoring the old and frail in favour of the young and fit.

  7. comment says:

    April 1st, 2010 at 9:23 am (#)

    April Fools?

  8. Rutchelle says:

    April 1st, 2010 at 9:26 am (#)

    I think this is a good idea. It can work if they put a travellator (like the ones in the airport for ppl who cannot make the distance and rushing to work 😛

  9. Vogel von Neustadt says:

    April 1st, 2010 at 9:27 am (#)

    This is a brilliant idea, though I do worry (as Val mentions) about the possibility of user conflicts if cyclists are not looked after properly. Also, there should be appropriate provision for horse riders, skateboarders and others. And what happened to the excellent idea of pedestrian traffic simply sharing the space with the trains in a nice touchy-feely woonerf-ish way ? Much lower conversion costs and also some excellent entertainment for onlookers.

  10. jamie says:

    April 1st, 2010 at 9:31 am (#)

    Spiny – agreed. We certainly wouldn't lobby for this in the real world…

  11. David the sceptic says:

    April 1st, 2010 at 9:32 am (#)

    has anybody noted the date that this was published…nearly fooled me!

  12. Allen says:

    April 1st, 2010 at 9:37 am (#)

    Is it 1st April?

  13. EmBee says:

    April 1st, 2010 at 9:38 am (#)

    I heard this morning that this stretch of tunnel may also be in Phase 2 of the Cycling Network. ;-}

  14. Samantha says:

    April 1st, 2010 at 9:56 am (#)

    never!!!!!!!! complete madness!!!!

    walking 1.5 miles adds 30 minutes to a journey into the City, when some of us have already commuted 50 minutes on the train, we will have no home life at all…..

  15. Samantha says:

    April 1st, 2010 at 9:59 am (#)

    just noticed the date of the report, dur…

    surprised the author isn't one Olaf Poril!!!

  16. Kevin says:

    April 1st, 2010 at 10:20 am (#)

    A great idea – and how about including space for cycles, too?

  17. Spiny Norman says:

    April 1st, 2010 at 10:52 am (#)

    Bu99er – caught out by Lirpa Loof 🙁

  18. DAN says:

    April 1st, 2010 at 12:24 pm (#)

    This is great idea i know that this idea has been around for about 4 years now ,I also believe glass walls are being considered so you can see the thames .

  19. Carolyn says:

    April 1st, 2010 at 12:24 pm (#)

    This has to be one of the best April Fools yet! However it is a fabulous idea.

  20. Fil Lapoor says:

    April 1st, 2010 at 1:54 pm (#)

    What a fabulous idea.
    Why not convert the entire underground into a series of passageways with travelators. There would be no congestion as nobody would ever have to stop and wait.

  21. Jimmy Tidey says:

    April 1st, 2010 at 3:41 pm (#)

    I normally travel by sedan chair. As usual this idea comletely ignores people who use alternative modes of transport. This is exactly the kind of bipedialism I've become acustomed to.

  22. Spiny Norman says:

    April 1st, 2010 at 9:12 pm (#)

    @Fil Lapoor

    Isaac Asimov beat you to that by about 40 years, I'm afraid…

  23. James says:

    April 2nd, 2010 at 12:04 am (#)

    A lovely idea – if only the amount of expansive thinking going into April Fools gags was put to another use this might actually happen!

  24. beanfeast says:

    April 2nd, 2010 at 11:43 pm (#)

    @Spiny Norman (spent any time in Sheffield?)

    Are you thinking of Robert Heinlein's “The Roads Must Road”.

  25. David says:

    January 22nd, 2011 at 5:44 pm (#)

    What a cracked brain idea, you might as well stick to the street above or catch a bus (do they still have Red Arrow Buses) if not, why not, it will get jolly hot and stuffy in the summer and it will become a muggers dream world if you let this one through Boris then you don't deserver to be Re-elected and we can have that other fool back instead.

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