Memorandum by London Underground Limited
London Underground has been asked by the Urban
Affairs Sub-committee of the House of Commons Select Committee
on Transport, Local Government and the Regions, to submit evidence
to the inquiry into Tall Buildings. The committee is interested
in the relationship between tall buildings and transport capacity
in particular the capacity of the Underground to carry office
workers at peak times to and from tall building locations.
This memorandum discusses the key issues for
London Underground. These include:
overall transport demand and capacity;
location and distribution of demand;
impacts on train services;
timescales for planning and implementing
new capacity; and
The memorandum also discusses the potential
locations for tall buildings and their impact on public transport
2. OVERALL TRANSPORT
Roundly 390,000 passengers enter the Underground
in the morning peak hour (08.00 to 09.00). This level of demand
creates a significant crowding problem for London Underground
and its customers. There is some evidence that any increase in
the level of congestion would lead to more people travelling outside
the peak hour or avoiding central London.
Over the next twenty years London Underground
expects the demand for peak travel to rise by around 15 per cent.
In response it is seeking to provide additional capacity of a
similar level. In aggregate this should hold congestion broadly
at today's levels. The additional capacity will be evenly spread
over the existing lines except for the Jubilee Line where LUL
is looking at an extra 60 per cent capacity to meet growth in
Docklands. New rail capacity such as Thameslink and Crossrail
in addition to upgrading the existing network should reduce congestion.
3. LOCATION AND
It is very unlikely that additional demand will
be evenly spread across the Underground network. The location
of commercial development and residential growth will each influence
the pattern of demand. Over the past 20 years London Underground
has seen an overall growth of 35 per cent in peak demand. Some
areas however have lost demand for example the West End, others
have seen employment demand double eg redeveloped suburban centres
like Harrow, Hammersmith and Wood Green, while the Isle of Dogs
has grown from nothing to a major employment quarter.
Overall the stronger growth has been seen on
the east side of central London, the City and Docklands generating
relatively more demand on lines serving these areas for example
the Northern City branch. There is some evidence that areas with
significant development have drawn demand away from areas with
very little development.
Additional employment is not only provided by
tall buildings eg Canary Wharf Tower but also "bulky"
development for example the Broadgate Complex.
The transition of extra employment into extra
London Underground journeys is also located dependent. In the
City virtually all the demand will use public transport but LUL
will carry only 40 per cent to 50 per cent the rest being mainly
served by National Rail. On the other hand for West End developments
LUL would have probably and 80 per cent mode share.
The capacity to handle extra growth will also
depend on the proportion of demand arriving in the peak hour.
Over the years the proportion of the peak three hours using the
peak hour has fallen. If it continues to fall extra peak capacity
becomes available. However congestion would then become more widespread
in the shoulders of the peak eg 07.00 to 08.00.
A number of locations have been discussed as
key growth employment poles in the future eg Docklands, the fringes
of the City, Kings Cross Railway lands, may be prime candidates
for tall buildings. On the residential and regeneration side,
Thames gateway and Lea Valley are potential important development
The implications for train services and stations
are discussed in more detail in the next section.
4. IMPACTS ON
The busiest points on the network for train
services tend to be just inside the ring of mainline termini for
example between Victoria and Green Part on the Victoria Line.
Additional employment inside this ring will increase congestion
at these points. In most cases the load however will be spread
across two or three lines. So long as the total growth is within
the 15 per cent capacity of the train service congestion will
For developments around mainline termini, LUL
can handle proportionately more assuming that there is additional
capacity on the mainline. It does mean however that links approaching
the mainline termini become virtually at peak load. This makes
the management of flows boarding and alighting train at the mainline
termini very critical and may limit the ability to provide higher
peak hour frequencies.
Developments around suburban locations do not
provide any congestion risks for the train service. Indeed they
may siphon off demand that would have travelled into Central London.
However suburban locations are more likely to increase road traffic
unless accompanied by strict parking limitations.
Most of the development poles are on or near
the ring of mainline stations. The major exception is Docklands
where the Jubilee line is the major public transport artery. The
development of the Docklands and the capacity of the Jubilee line
train service are therefore very strongly linked.
5. IMPACT ON
The impact of new developments on stations is
less easy to judge without looking station by station. The capacity
of stations varies considerably. Some stations just served by
lifts can be overwhelmed by even modest development as occurred
around the Angel station in the late 1980s. Some large stations
have limited capacity for additional traffic before major congestion
sets in, the current Kings Cross station is in this category.
Other stations are already trying to handle demand above their
capacity for example Victoria.
In some cases LUL has schemes of live projects
to expand capacity. The additional capacity at these stations
will be substantial. When rebuilding stations our planning principles
would normally seek to provide an additional 30 per cent to 50
per cent above expected future demand to give headroom for further
expansion without a further and expensive rebuild of the stations.
6. HANDLING DISRUPTIONS
From time to time there are incidents on the
Underground which cause short term closures of stations or sections
of line. In such circumstances it is very valuable to be able
to divert passengers to other nearby stations or lines. It is
preferable therefore for major developments be located near a
number of transport routes where possible.
As can be seen from the previous discussion
there is likely to be capacity in the long term to handle additional
employment journeys on the Underground. However, new capacity
has a long planning and implementation timescale. A new line or
line upgrade typically takes 10 years from the start of planning
to running the new services. At the very early stages demand and
planning assumptions need to be fixed to allow design work to
Early indications from planning authorities
or developers about development intentions are therefore vital.
Where development poles or clusters are being considered it is
appropriate for the land use authorities to discuss with the transport
provider's potential transport capacity. The Channel Tunnel Rail
Link is a successful example of where station and line capacity
around Kings Cross was built into the planning of the link.
8. FUNDING NEW
The ability of the transport network and the
cost of additional capacity to handle additional demand, will
vary considerably from location to location. London Underground
will have many calls on its funds not least maintaining and renewing
existing assets. Additional capacity is unlikely to be funded
from fare box revenue and therefore will need public funding unless
supplemented by developer contributions. London Underground will
have its investment priorities based on handling existing problems
and overall growth.
Where development creates a local capacity problem
beyond LUL's plans and priorities there may be a case for developer
contributions to part fund capacity expansion.
9. TALL BUILDING
For aesthetic, environmental and planning reasons
tall buildings will probably be limited in their location. If
cluster development (including bulky buildings) is preferred then
the previous discussion on growth poles is pertinent. One area
for which large development is often appropriate for commercial
reasons is directly above railway lines where the cost of rafting
over the lines needs to be defrayed by dense development above.
To the extent that such developments help fund transport operations
and lessen the take on existing land use there may be a role for
large or tall buildings above railways.
Residentially the use of tall buildings near
public transport modes is an alternative way of boosting the supply
of housing without taking extra green field land and having to
spend significant sums servicing the new, developments with new
often less accessible, transport links.
London Underground should have the capacity
to handle extra development through tall buildings so long as
detailed evaluation of capacity is carried out at the potential
growth locations and additional capacity planned and implemented
in good time. This needs to be combined with policies to limit
extra growth to what is economically efficient to provide from
existing and future enhancements.