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Better connected

Adding six completely new stations and an extra 16km of track to London Underground's massive Tube network does not sound very much. Adrian Greeman explains why the Jubilee Line Extension is important for the whole of London's transport.

In the public's mind the new Jubilee Line is the main link to the Millennium Dome, sited on the North Greenwich peninsula. But in reality, though important in 2000, access to the Dome in the long term is the least significant aspect of the route.

Certainly the London Borough of Greenwich which hosts the Dome and is linked for the first time into the Tube network, will reap huge benefit. So too will Docklands' business district of Canary Wharf, which has the biggest station and was a crucial factor in deciding the line's route.

But neither, according to Jubilee Line marketing manager Stephen Jolly are the realdriver for the Jubilee Line's future. He maintains that the true benefit is in improving the service on the London Underground network.

The JLE will free up capacity on overground train and bus links. There will, for example, be more than 60 route changes to the bus system, Jolly points out. 'That is one of the biggest single route shifts in peacetime,' he argues.

Bus links from east, south and south east London will now tie in to the enlarged Jubilee Line system. Three new bus stations connect passengers directly with stations at Canning Town, Canada Water and North Greenwich. Stratford also has its own new bus station.

But to understand the broadest impact of the line you need simply to look at the London Underground Tube map, in particular the loop of interconnecting lines, enclosed by the Circle Line, that forms London's transport hub. With the new Jubilee Line Extension added in, the network centre of gravity is diffused and thrown to the south east.

Every JLE station, bar that at Bermondsey, is a node, linking other rail lines both above ground to the Tube system or tying in bus links. A host of disparate elements in the south east are drawn together, some for the first time. The isolated East LondonLine, part of the Tube system running subsurface north to south, takes on a new significance, as does the Silverlink Metro railway, a giant and much underused above ground link circling north London, now operated by the private sector.

The Docklands Light Railway and its eastward extensions to Beckton and Stratford are now also linked into the Tube structure. Eventually, passengers on the high speed Channel Tunnel Rail Link could be connected via the Jubilee Line's Stratford end-point where the Central Line and eastern surface rail commuter links also tie in.

At the western end of the extension, Westminster is transformed from a relatively low use stop for Parliament into a major interchange, connecting into the existing Jubilee Line runningdiagonally across central London. The only downside, and one which drew much discussion during early planning for the JLE, is that the former link to Charing Cross on the Jubilee Line is discontinued.

JLE makes Waterloo, too, one of London's biggest connectors, particularly with the adjacent Southwark Station which provides pedestrian links to Waterloo East and rail lines to Kent. Eurostar passengers will also now hop directly on to the JLE.

London Bridge is similarly crucial. It now also gains a fast link to the West End, and a rapid connection to London's second and growing financial district, Canary Wharf to the east on the Isle of Dogs.

The dramatic deep-box station at the Wharf opened in September, whisking passengers to Waterloo in just 10 minutes. The line will hugely reduce the burden on the overloaded DLR and the congested roads out of the City. Success of the Canary Wharf development hinged on the JLE, hence the £400M sweetener provided by the developer towards costs, and expansion is now in full swing with construction of new buildings for HSBC and for Citibank and plans for a second tower well under way.

But the new route has an impact outside of the city centre. With four major crossings of the Thames it cuts north-south journey times considerably, and links east London to the south. London Borough of Newham in east London, which gets three new stations, sees the line as 'a major selling point' in its regeneration.

The London Borough of Southwark - traditionally a 'desert' for the Underground - benefits from three new stations in the south of London. Councillor Mick Dolezal, chair of the environmental committee, says: 'The line links the north of the borough into the central London network and greatly increases work and leisure opportunities.'

Local residents will at last be able to benefit from the new infrastructure after several years during which disruption and noise were the only tangible effect of the new line.

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