Tunnels That Should Exist In London

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 13 months ago
Tunnels That Should Exist In London

London can never have enough tunnels. Here are some we'd like to see.

These everywhere please, Carsten Höller. Photo: phil h.

Road crossing tunnels

London is fraught with dangerous road crossings, and pedestrian tunnels might well be the antidote.

An underground thoroughfare leading from Holborn tube station to the British Museum would be high up on our list — saving pedestrians the stress of dodging the ongoing tsunami of traffic. Or we could reopen the ghost station beneath the British Museum itself.

A subterranean passage between West Hampstead tube station to West Hampstead Thameslink is a sensible idea too, owing to the wafer thin pavements between the two that commuters currently have to navigate.

Actually, while we're at it, let's just link up the cellar of every single drinking establishment in London, and line the tunnels with cotton wool. The end to nasty booze related accidents will be almost instant. Although we do run the real risk of creating a species of dipsomaniac troglodytes. Swings and roundabouts.

Those with access to Oxford Street's secret tunnel would be above this. Well, beneath it, actually. You know what we mean. Photo: Megan Trace.

Pre existing tunnels

OK, the above concepts could take some time. Fortunately, some of the city's hairiest spots could be quick fixes.

Until 2016, there were subway tunnels running beneath Elephant and Castle roundabout. Out with the sledge hammers TfL, we say — it was far easier to cross the road when they were in use.

And beneath one of central London's hairiest crossings of all — on the Euston Road — there already exists a foot tunnel, running from Wellcome Trust HQ to the other side of the road:

Note the hump in the middle, where the tunnel crosses over the Metropolitan line. Photo: Matt Brown.

Don't suppose you could open it up to the public, guys?

As for Oxford Street: let's turn that secret subterranean street, which we're extremely skeptical exists, into a tunnel running from Tottenham Court Road to Marble Arch. Shhh, the shopaholics and tourists needs never know...

Carsten Höller tunnel slides

Carsten Höller has proved himself the arbiter of London's tunnel slides, with joyous installations in the Hayward Gallery and the Orbit. Now, we call for the Belgian to pack in all other projects, and go full-time as a helter skelter pioneer. Höller must not rest until there's a tunnel slide coming out the side of any building over five storeys high. Whether fleeing from a towering inferno, or a dull meeting, you're sure to go 'wheeeeee!' all the way home.

"And on your left in a minute you'll see a shoal of empty crisp packets". Photo: Hannah Whittle.

Transparent Thames tunnel

Imagine if the London Aquarium's glass tunnel was extended out into the depths of the Thames; as the scenery changes from hammerhead sharks to shoals of empty crisp packets, kids can learn about the effects of pollution, while remorseful adults pinpoint the spot where they hurled their wedding ring, in an ill-advised fit of rage.

While we're at it, let's get the Woolwich and Greenwich foot tunnels redone in glass too. A sensible use of TfL's increasingly strained budget, we're sure you'd agree.

Photo: Anna J.

Tube tunnels

Anyone who's lived in south east London for more than a day will tell you they'd happily sacrifice their own time and bare hands to extend the Bakerloo line, if it meant London Underground trains could go to their neck of the woods.

Of course, such an audacious and expensive underground network extension is a way off.  For now (and absolutely nothing to do with a puerile fantasy of ours), we'd like to see a shorter tube line installed — portmanteau name and all — between Cockfosters and Arsenal. Oh grow up, will you.

Where would you most like to see a tunnel installed in London? Tell us in the comments.

Last Updated 14 November 2016

Adrian Millward

The HS1 platform at Stratford International (aka Boris Ghost station) sits almost beneath platform 11 of Stratford Station, at Montfichet Road. Given this will soon be a connection to the Elizabeth line to Central London and Heathrow, don't you think it would make sense to have a simple tunnel/lift between HS1 and Heathrow?

Paul Holden

A road tunnel - on one of the major road links into central London - between Trafalgar Road and Creek Road under the centre of Greenwich. This World Heritage Site, visited by millions of tourists every year, is ruined by the nightmare traffic jams at peak commuting hours, and the extreme levels of pollution.