Engineering works will bring no improved safety for commuters, despite the four-month Bank branch closure at Kennington station, say campaigners.
As reported by the News last month, from Saturday, May 26 until mid-September, Bank branch trains will not stop at Kennington to allow four new customer passageways to be built.
The news came as a surprise to residents and councillors, who said they had not been consulted about the closure.
TfL says the passageways are needed to make it quicker and easier for customers to change between different north line branches, including the extension from Battersea, expected to be completed in 2020.
Kennington will remain open for the duration of the work, with customers able to board trains northbound, via the Charing Cross branch, or southbound to Morden.
But the Kennington and Walworth Neighbourhood Action Group believes public safety is at risk during the planned works as there are no escalators at the station, and the sole emergency exit route is up an old spiral staircase.
The group says that according to TfL’s own reports, it would take a full nineteen minutes to evacuate passengers from the station if an incident occurred during peak hours, rising to twenty minutes once the Northern Line extension is up and running.
A spokesperson for the group told the News: “Commuters will not be able to get on or off the Bank branch at Kennington for four months while TfL carry out platform level works for the Northern Line extension and yet there is no masterplan to address the safety issues that will only get worse once the extension is complete.”
The group are calling on TfL to reconsider its plans and improve access to and from the station and, in light of the on-going disruption, bring forward the re-zoning of Kennington to zones one/two.
David Hughes, London Underground’s director of strategy and network development, said: “The safety of our customers and staff is our top priority.
“We have robust operational plans in place to ensure that Kennington station remains safe throughout the construction of the additional customer passageways.
“The decision to keep the station open for the duration of the work, while running Bank branch trains non-stopping through the station, was made earlier this year following detailed work to determine the safest and least disruptive solution.
“We apologise to Northern Line customers and to local residents for the disruption this work will cause but it’s essential to enable customers to access the new Northern Line extension when it opens.”