Northern Line To Divorce?

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Tube travellers from Balham to Barnet are unhappy at claims the Northern Lane will be separated. According to leaflets being pressed into commuter flesh at Hendon station, TfL, like some latter-day Moses, has “recently announced plans” to part the oft-delayed line, creating two distinct services – one running south from High Barnet via Bank, the other from Edgeware via Charing Cross, with nary a switchover between the two.

Trouble is, the story’s cobblers. While the idea has been mooted (a survey last year suggested little public support), there is currently no budget to make the switch, which would require a £70 million refit of Camden Town station. The leaflets, handed out by Barnet Council’s deputy leader Matthew Offord, have been denounced as “deliberate scaremongering” by Hendon’s Labour MP Andrew Dismore.

Offord has nimbly sprung to his own defence, citing Ken Livingstone last October, who admitted the separation could deliver “substantial benefits” but timetabled 2015 as the earliest possible date. Said Offord:

Livingstone has refused to rule out splitting the Northern Line at Camden. Until he does I will campaign against it.

Well, Ken hasn’t (to our knowledge) ruled out flooding the entire network and equipping commuters with aqualungs and flippers, but we’ll trust that’s not on the agenda.

Commuters, ignore these scurrilous rumours. The true story here is one to warm the toughest of hearts this Valentine’s Day: the intertwined branches of the Northern Line will continue their tempestuous love affair for the foreseeable future.

Image from tompagenet’s Flickrstream

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  • Paul Mison

    The actual proposals, such as they are, are in TfL’s Transport 2025 “vision document”. (As you note in the main article, this is a long way from a funded programme.) Page 88 is the one that talks about segregating the Northern:

    branches through central London will be operating at only 22-25tph and will remain crowded. The limit on capacity is the need to inter-work services to different destinations via different branches.

    So the suggestion to split the line isn’t being done just to make things easier for tourists, but to increase train frequency.

    A segregation of services would deliver simpler service patterns on the line. This will allow more trains to be run through both the West End and City branches – enabling 30tph services on the central London branches. This will provide roughly 25 per cent extra capacity and crowding relief on these busy sections.

    So Matthew Offord is in favour of running fewer trains on the line, presumably because he thinks people in Barnet are too stupid to figure out how to change at Camden Town. Baffling. The even more surprising thing to me is that 70% of people seem to be against the idea, too. Maybe nobody’s telling them about the fact that it’s actually meant to be useful?

  • DeanN

    Paul – thanks for the comments, and thanks also for posting that link to the Transport 2025 document. I’m not someone who travels a lot on the Northern Line, but it does seem to make sense that a split on the two lines, with Camden as a crossing point, would work if it increase the train frequency. This Offord fellow’s just out for a spot of publicity.

    The 70% of people against it were canvassed in Wandsworth, and it was organised by the Tories, so presumably the question was skewed so that they’d get a favourable outcome.

  • M@

    I’d be all for it. Having lived in Camden for 7 months now, I still can’t figure out whether a train is going to stop at Mornington Crescent or not. And I’m a nerd.

    Plus, we’d get a whole new tube line, and could run endless blog posts about what it should be called, what colour it should be, and which of the twin lines would be the evil one.

  • Siany

    Introducing M@: TFL nerd blogger extraordinaire…

  • Dave

    I’d be for it, as well. The junction at Camden Town station seems to just ‘constipate’ the whole service at busy times, and it’s not as if the Northern Line couldn’t benefit from a less complicated and higher-frequency service!

  • Lindsey

    Yebbut… then you’d have to change and that’s inconvenient to passengers…. especially if you’re in the middle of a really good book. I believe in the right of someone to go from Golders Green to EITHER Waterloo or London Bridge. The Northern line offers choice, even though it’s shit.

    And oh, I’ve got on the wrong train SOO many times. But that’s just part of the fun.

    I like the random eccentricity – especially when I’m trying to work out which platform to run for at Camden Town.