The first extension to the London Underground this century is set to open in September, Tube bosses confirmed today.
The £1.2bn Northern line extension to Battersea is nearing completion, with test trains having started running last December and both new stations – Nine Elms and Battersea Power Station – approaching their final fit-out.
Mayor Sadiq Khan visited Nine Elms station on Friday morning and said he was “delighted” with what he had seen. The new link will bring Battersea within 15 minutes of the West End.
Mr Khan said: “The new station at Nine Elms and the new station at Battersea Power Station will help support more than 25,000 jobs and more than 20,000 homes.
“It will be the first major Tube extension this century, and it couldn’t come at a better time to support our city’s recovery from the pandemic and kick-start our economy.”
However, without Government help, there may not be another Tube extension for decades.
The next big proposal, the Bakerloo line extension, has been shelved until 2030 due to the financial crisis at TfL. Tube bosses told the Standard that any extra funding would be likely to be spent first on upgrading the signalling system on the Piccadilly line.
In March the Standard revealed TfL had been forced to abandon “mega projects”, with nothing scheduled beyond next year’s opening of Crossrail, the capacity upgrade of Bank station and the extension of the London Overground to Barking Riverside.
Tube bosses hope to start running Northern line trains on the extension by August to familiarise drivers with the route and the new terminus.
However no passengers will be carried beyond Kennington during this phase. Full passenger services are due to start in September.
The extension, which was given the go-ahead in 2015 by then mayor Boris Johnson, was originally meant to open in December 2020 but was delayed after the specifications for the Battersea Power Station station changed.
The Nine Elms station, a no frills “rectangular box” concrete structure with a central platform flanked by the Northbound and Southbound lines, will have an “above station” development of three tower blocks containing a total of 479 homes. The development, being done by Grainger for TfL, will be 40 per cent affordable.
All trains serving the extension will travel via Charing Cross. Passengers wanting the Bank branch of the Northern line will have to change at Kennington.
Extra space has been created underground at Kennington to make it easier for passengers to switch between branches.
Mr Khan declined to criticise his predecessor’s decision not to have extended the route further south to Clapham Junction, which would have put one of the country’s busiest rail stations on the Tube map for the first time. “There is no point having conversations about what could have been,” he said.
Engineers have previously said that extending the Northern line to Clapham Junction could have overwhelmed the new route due.
It is not yet known how frequently the trains will run on the extension. This will be determined during the summer testing.
The two new stations are in zone 1. Last week, Kennington station changed from a Zone 2 station to a Zone 1/2 station to ensure passengers only paid a zone 1 fare, currently £2.40 on pay-as-you-go.The fare zone change also means those that travel from Kennington south towards Balham, Tooting and Morden will also not pay any extra as a result of the extension.