Thursday, 20 May 2010

Battersea tube, Vauxhall Waitrose and the CS7 superhighway

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?


Adrian said...

Is there anything to suggest there will be a Waitrose beyond someone saying "please please let it be Waitrose" and idle speculation?

Catriona Robertson said...

Agree re safety of superhighway - saw a cyclist down and surrounded by ambulances yesterday (late afternoon) at the Union Rd / Clapham Rd junction, SW9, where there are various patches of turquoise, presumably testing which works best. Cyclist was conscious and I hope OK, but I can't see any extra advantage over the normal green cycle lanes. Apparently this is the Year of Cycling in London!

SE11 Lurker said...

Adrian, nothing definite, but @Jason_Cobb's "sources" apparently say it starts with a "W". It will probably turn out to be a Whistlestop ;) My personal bet is another Tesco, but y'know, there's nothing like getting people excited with rumours of a Waitrose. People literally start foaming at the mouth, and I do like a good bit of foaming to cheer up a Thursday morning!

Jason Cobb said...

Actually, it's a Lidl.


SW8Guy said...

Looking at the tube consultation document route 2 shows the Nine Elms station on Sainsbury's Car park/Wandsworth Road. Route 4 has it behind Sainsbury's on the other side of the mainline railway and closer to the US Embassy site.

Anonymous said...

I do love the predictable and popular, though inaccurate "Boris hates South London" in terms of transport. There is no proof.

Ken did nothing. He had ZERO funding for the Cross River Tram, which was due for completion when first unveiled by 2007. He kept just enough chatter and consultation going to hide the fact there was no money to pay for it - until maybe long after 2020. But don't let facts get in the way.

Meanwhile, Boris, who is not my favourite politician, has been honest about transport. And believes extending the Bakerloo Line south is far more feasible. It could happen in 2020 or so - and be funded. Just about the same time the tram MAY have been funded.

And don't forget, when most of "North London" (the river is deceiving) was really just LONDON decades before South London (Surrey countryside) was even part of London. So suggesting they should have equal transport given their evolution is just plain ignorant. Oh, and it's cheaper in South London cause you have to rely on buses. So many people moved to certain areas to afford a starter home and move up the ladder. Put in the tube and price people out. Very wise. And buses are cheaper - and there are plenty - and they move fairly well.

Like the 436. Not sure about the 453 - never heard of it.

As for bendy buses, it was a key pledge and he won. Those complaining didn't vote for him so of course you will fret.

Cycle highways - like the idea. Cyclist are never happy until the world stops and gives them free reign. It is called sharing, not global lycra domination.

SE11 Lurker said...

Anonymous, I just read your comment and then I spotted this news article. It points out that the Hendon MP is pleased that the Northern line will be split in Kennington. I quote exactly:

"It had been feared the line, which serves the whole of Barnet, could be split so trains from Edgware serve one line and trains from Barnet serve the other, as part of upgrade work to increase capacity.

However, it has been announced the split will happen at Kennington in south London instead, preventing massive disruption for many north London users."

Oh, well that's alright then.

Northern Line split

You also say, "And don't forget, most of "North London"... was really just LONDON decades before South London (Surrey countryside) was even part of London. So suggesting they should have equal transport given their evolution is just plain ignorant."

South London has not been Surrey for 122 years. That is not a good argument for failing to invest in its tube infrastructure. I'm not a great fan of Ken Livingstone, or the money he wasted on the tram consultation, but I think if either Mayor (or the government) had been serious about provision for South London, they'd be investing in extending the Bakerloo line, rather than pouring money into Crossrail.

SE11 Lurker said...

Thank you SW8 guy. I wrote this article this morning before rushing off to work, and didn't check the location of Nine Elms South correctly. I've amended the article so that it now reads that Nine Elms South is on top of Sainsburys car park (unclear what will happen to the cars!). I still think they're likely to go ahead with Route 4.

Personally, I think the un-proposed Route 5 would be great. We could take Route 3 and add either of the two Nine Elms stops, thereby linking up Kennington (Northern line) with Vauxhall (Victoria line), and add two new tube stations, Nine Elms and Battersea.

Would most likely be fearfully expensive though :)

Mark L said...

RE: "South Nine Elms" - it would be only a five minute walk to the embassy, under the railway line (there's plenty of arches that you can walk through, and they could always knock through another). The US Embassy have already said that they refuse to pay for the Northen Line Extension, as do the New Covent Garden Market with their redevelopment plans, so don't assume that being slightly further from the embassy is a problem.

The whole point of the line is to ease pressure on Vauxhall station - sticking it next to the Wandsworth Road corridor would do far more to encourage people to use the Northern Line instead of Victoria, whereas burying it behind the embassy would make it highly unlikely that Wandsworth Road people would bother using it.

On the buses... 453 and 436 are both up for replacement at the end of 2011.

Personally - I think the bendy buses are eminently sensible on *some* routes. Three doors means people board more quickly (so it spends less time at stops, making journeys quicker), and it holds more people -and pushchairs, wheelchairs, etc- than a regular bus. On the routes where they've replaced bendies, they've had to use about 1.4 double deckers to replace every bendy.

At a time when bus fares are going up massively (20% this year), when the purse strings are tightening, it seems madness to be buying new buses which will cost more to operate and staff (if you are replacing the buses at a 1:1.4 ratio, you need more bus drivers, maintenance staff, etc... ).

Anonymous said...

a Waitrose? I think the most that could be hoped for on that site is an M&S metro....

Andrew Orange said...

Oh dear. This Waitrose rumour thing has got out of hand. I note that you link to my post implying that I am the source so can I emphasise that all I said was "please let it be Waitrose. Please, please."

It's just idle fantasy. If JL doesn't think Clapham is posh enough to sustain a Waitrose I'd be very surprised if it thought Vauxhall were.

Sadly Jason's Lidl suggestion seems far more likely.

thereverent said...

Splitting of the Northern line at Kennington would need no extra work. Already most southbound trains on the Charring Cross route terminate and then go round the loop to head north again. It would be a big improvement for south London as there would be more trains.

Building the extention to Battersea would take some new work.

Anonymous said...

Boris is a cunt

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