Transport for London (TfL) today announced that its Northern Line upgrade will begin later this year and finally confirmed a completion date of July for the Jubilee Line upgrade.
Work on the Northern Line – London’s busiest Tube line – aims to increase capacity by 20% and cut journey times by around 18% and is set to be complete in 2014.
TfL said “lessons have been learned” from the upgrade of the Jubilee Line, which was due to be completed last year. It said that “significantly fewer” weekend closures will be needed than originally proposed under the fomer PPP arrangement, which was dissolved last May when TfL bought upgrade contractor Tube Lines out of its obligations.
There will now be eight weekends of full line closures for the installation and testing of the new signalling system spread between five closures in 2013 and three in 2014, eight weekends where shorter sections of the line will be closed, many of which will affect only the High Barnet branch, and six closures of parts of the line during the quieter Easter and Christmas holiday periods which will be closed for four or five days respectively. Tube Lines had requested 65 weekend closures.
London Underground will be increase the amount of work done during night-time engineering hours, using the hours where the network is closed each night in full to carry out upgrade works, as well as the usual maintenance work.
In addition, much more system testing will be done off site using improved simulators, and on an extended and enhanced test track at Highgate, to reduce the time needed for closures and to drive out any problems in the system before it goes live for passengers. Improvements made for the Jubilee line system (which uses the same hardware and software) will automatically be carried across to the Northern line, it said.
The Jubilee Line upgrade will mean faster and more reliable journeys and an increase in capacity of 33% – space for around 12,500 extra passengers per hour. Services will initially increase from 24 to 27 trains per hour, with further increases at the start of next year.
“We know how disruptive weekend engineering works can be and we’re determined to learn lessons from the Jubilee line upgrade, the last of the PPP upgrades,” said London Underground managing director Mike Brown. “ Working with our signalling contractor Thales, we’re adopting a new and innovative approach which means we will be able to greatly reduce the disruption to our customers and businesses along the Northern line.
“The Northern line is the busiest line on the Tube network and some of the signalling dates back to the 1950s. Its essential upgrade will deliver huge benefits for passengers – with more frequent services, quicker and more comfortable journeys, and the capacity to carry an additional 11,000 passengers an hour. While we do this vital work we will do our utmost to keep disruption to an absolute minimum.”