MP and locals fume at Tube bosses for summer part-closure of Kennington Station

Neil Coyle, MP for Bermondsey

A South London MP has slammed Transport for London (TfL) for “shocking” plans to close the Bank branch platform of Kennington station for 16 weeks as work on the Northern Line extension to Battersea (NLE) takes place.

Neil Coyle, MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, told Lambeth Life that the transport authority had made a “huge mistake that would affect thousands of people in Southwark and Lambeth,” with Bank trains not calling at the station between May 26 to mid- September.

He says TfL had not told local people of the part-closure during community consultation about the NLE, which kicked off in 2014.

According to plans, engineers will create four passenger passageway improving interchange between the Bank and Charing Cross branches and allow people to use the Battersea extension, set for 2020 completion.

Coyle said many parties had raised “concerns about Kennington Station for some time and TfL did not alert anyone to the risk.”

Lambeth Council leader Lib Peck accused Val Shawcross, Deputy Mayor for Transport of breaking promises, writing on 27 February that, “the interchange is used by many thousands of Lambeth residents daily who would be inconvenienced and the closure will come as a surprise to many… despite assurances to the contrary.”

Kennington and Walworth Neighbourhood Action Group chair, John Bayley, wrote to Mayor Sadiq Khan on 6 March suggesting the works should be postponed until the transport authority had properly consulted, adding it had been “extremely frustrating that local people have put in countless hours in liaising with TfL, only to find that this key development has occurred entirely outside the consultative framework.”

Heart of Kennington Residents Association chair, Priscilla Baines said the February announcement came “as a complete surprise”.

John Harrison, a Conservative council candidate, agreed that the closure had been “especially disappointing as a local resident as we were told by TFL that there would be minimal effects on services.”

Local residents who Lambeth Life spoke to at Kennington station earlier this month were also critical.

Victoria Jones said it was “especially hard for the many people who use it to get to Guy’s Hospital and have trouble getting about anyway.”

David Lewis, who frequently uses the Bank branch to get to work in Kennington said that this was the first he had heard about the plans. “They should have information posters in the station” he said.

MP Coyle said he would ask TfL what it planned to do to compensate local people, suggesting rezoning the station “might help.”

Kennington’s platforms are too narrow to let passengers and engineers share the space and travellers will need to use Elephant and Castle or Oval stations instead.

There are “real worries about capacity at Oval” added Baines. The two-mile, £1.2 billion extension will create two stations at Battersea Power Station and Nine Elms. TfL apologised for the disruption the work will cause but said the decision was made”following detailed work to determine the safest and least disruptive solution”.

The Southern section of the Northern Line, which contains the busiest stretch of the Tube network between Stockwell and Clapham North, will not get extra services at peak time to relieve overcrowding for at least another 18 months. Following a 2014 signalling upgrade, the line has capacity to take an extra two trains per hour. But in answer to a question from audience member Neil Salt at a Clapham Transport Users Group meeting this month, a TfL representative said he couldn’t give a date for when extra trains would run, adding that an October 2019 start date was “an aspiration”. At the meeting it was also revealed that TfL has no plans to provide more bus services between Clapham and the City, despite continuing peak-time overcrowding on Clapham Common and Clapham North stations’ island platforms.

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