There is lots of road digging underway around the junction of Kennington Park Road and Kennington Road. Indeed, a new sign has appeared on Kennington Park Road, alerting us to the fact that the CS7 cycle superhighway (err, paint splodge) is imminent. Also, there are lots of strange containers on the island outside Oval tube station. However, it's not clear whether the digging and containers relates to the cycle superhighway or the ongoing Victorian water mains replacements, or just the eternal road digging that TFL, BT, Thames Water and British Gas (or whoever) like to inflict upon us. The CS7 start has been "imminent" for some time but it seems that perhaps the CS7 TFL schedule is running slightly late (do take a look at the start dates for some idea of when your section was meant to be begin). I'm expecting to exit Kennington tube any day now and see the CS7 in its full glory and blueness. Of course, it's not in the slightest bit safe. Stockwell News reported (and has videos) of a barely avoided collision on a "test" part of the route, and it will only be time before a cyclist assumes they're safer on the blue road, and is involved in a fatal accident. I don't write those words lightly, but I think the creation of the Superhighways are rather rash ideas when they do not give cyclists the room they need to co-exist with buses and cars on trunk routes.
Speaking of the tube, there are rather a number of different stories flying around at the moment. Whilst I was away, one Tweeter asked whether the proposed Northern line closures had disappeared on account of Boris' dissolution of the Private Finance Initiative with Tubelines. It's really quite an astonishing story, and will result in TfL basically buying out Tubelines. Apparently, London Assembly member Caroline Pidegon thinks it's good news and Boriswatch hasn't said anything about it, being more concerned with the vanity factor of Boris' new routemaster so I'm concluding that perhaps users won't suffer the closures after all. On that note, I've been wondering when the 453 bendy bus to Lewisham is due to be de-commissioned and replaced with something less bendy, but I don't really want to draw attention to it. Its replacement (unless it were replaced with something uber-frequent) would never have the capacity. It's currently a seriously stuffed bus, and it would be bad for passengers were it replaced with something smaller. (So cyclists on this South London route must suffer). Also, I suspect the fact remains that Boris has no love for South London so he's not particularly interested in transport down here. Don't move to Peckham or Camberwell if you can help it, since the tube isn't coming any time soon.
But, some remedial measures will need to be introduced due to solve over-crowding. In an under-reported article, I note that Boris has approved the suggestion that the Northern line be split at Kennington to impreove service on the Charing Cross branch. It will mean that all South bound Charing Cross trains terminte at Kennington (although a lot of them currently seem to do so). London Travelwatch have said "It's not the perfect solution". Oh dear. And that of course begs the question about whether the station will need to be closed to enable those works to be carried out! Inevitably, the answer is "yes", so if we don't lose out on account of Tubelines closing the station, we risk losing out through the increased line capacity. Perhaps it won't need to be closed to make the amendments, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
If Kennington travellers avoid disruption for the above reasons, it will be a miracle. I hardly think, however, that they can avoid future closure were the Battersea section of the Northern line to be built! And, apparently, consultation from Treasury Holdings about the Battersea tube extension began yesterday. Check out the full Battersea tube consultation leaflet here. Don't get too excited. It seems that they're consulting on a number of routes, route 1 looks as though it's a direct route to Battersea Power Station (possibly via Oval). This involves less hassle, and is most likely to be the cheapest. But, oh dear... What about the proposed stop at Nine Elms? That's Route 2. It might cost a bit more to build a new tube station, but if we don't petition hard, Vauxhall is going to be packed (see below). However, do look carefully, route 2 involves a South Nine Elms stop (on top of Sainsburys car park), which doesn't look to be so near the embassy. Can't see it getting off the ground. Route 3 is interesting, and one I hadn't considered. It would connect Kennington to Vauxhall and then send Vauxhall on to Battersea, and Vauxhall would act as a hub. But think of the congestion already at Vauxhall. Wouldn't it make things worse? And finally, there's route 4, which might be known as the US Embassy Express, which would link Kennington to Nine Elms North and then to Battersea. This will probably be favoured by the Embassy themselves, who will have to cough up some of the cash. Anyhow, this is just the consultation stage. Remember what happened to the Cross River Tram, despite all of the consultation...
On a related note, Lambeth Council seem to have finally produced a document which concludes by stating what we all knew... The Victoria line is at capacity. Well, duh! But it's still ok to build the Nine Elms development (which will have the same population as Welwyn Garden City) on account of the fact that we could extend the concourse at Vauxhall. The document actually says, "The proposed works to Vauxhall Station, seek to reduce station congestion and improve public realm around the station by bringing the arch to the south of the station (former car rental office) into use as an extension to the existing concourse." There are two slight problems. The building that might be intended for the concourse extension is currently mooted to be the site of a new supermarket. Perhaps it could be both. But if the Waitrose rumours are true, I can't see the Waitrose shoppers loving to share their shop with the over-spill from Vauxhall tube station. And, secondly, note that extending the capacity at Vauxhall Station doesn't actually increase the capacity of the Victoria line. So there's not really any net gain, other than creating a holding pen for travellers.
How do we know about the supermarket? Mr OBB and his new posh neighbourhood watch club, were visited by the unassuming Clive Fraser of Lambeth Planning. I'm not sure what Clive did in a previous life, but it must have been something really bad, since he's the chap that Lambeth Council send out to be their "public face of planning". He's terribly nice. But being terribly nice does not prevent more tall buildings appearing at Vauxhall when the transport infrastructure is currently at capacity. I hope we'll see an improved Vauxhall planning strategy that does more than just endorse the previous Mayor's contention that Vauxhall is a place for tall buildings (not that Boris has objected) from Lambeth Council. We really need a sensible town plan for Vauxhall (rather than just a Supplementary Planning Document) so that we can review the developers' applications all at once, rather than one at a time. How many more tall buildings are to be permitted before Vauxhall tube has to be made entry only in the morning, at peak periods?
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