Documents Cast Doubt Over Need for Tube Station Closure
But TfL still insists station could not have remained open during upgrade
The row over the controversial closure of Shepherd's Bush Tube station last February has taken a new turn after documents released this week cast doubt over whether the closure was really necessary.
The documents, obtained by Shepherd’s Bush MP Andy Slaughter under the Freedom of Information Act, show that Metronet – the contractor replacing the escalators - believed they could do the upgrade work without closing the station.
“It is Metronet's view that the escalators can be replaced whilst maintaining station operation (if BGW [below ground works] lift & stairs installed) and replacing escalators one at a time,” one of the documents reads.
Slaughter has accused London Underground and Hammersmith and Fulham Council of misinforming passengers by saying the closure was unavoidable.
“LU has been caught concealing the truth from their paying customers and people whose livelihood depends on the station staying open. It appears they had the option not to close, but swept it under the carpet. They and the council spent thousands of pounds of public money telling lies to my constituents,” he said.
The council hotly denies the allegation, saying they played no part in the decision to close the station: “That was a TfL decision,” a spokesperson said. “It’s got nothing to do with us.”
The Central Line station closed last February, just four weeks after passengers were informed of the decision. The closure was followed by the moving of bus stops around the Green, several bus diversions, and the closure of the north-bound carriageway of Wood Lane.
Despite the newly-released documents, Transport for London insists there was no way the station could have been kept open, because of safety issues and the particular design of the station: "It has always been the case that we would have to close the station in order to install new escalators at Shepherd's Bush (Central line) station because they were next to one another in a concrete shaft and we had to break out the whole concrete structure that holds both the escalators in place,” a TfL spokesperson told ShepherdsBushW12.com.
“It was impossible to demolish one escalator without damaging the other. With only one narrow staircase, we couldn't safely evacuate passengers in an emergency.”
Slaughter has also accused London Underground and H&F of giving in to pressure from Westfield over the closure: “There is huge anger in Shepherd's Bush at the way LU and the Tory council have rolled over and let Westfield do what they like to the area,” he says. “Careful study of the more than 50 pages of released documents reveals how LU buckled under Westfield pressure.”
The documents indicate the decision to close the station was “fast tracked”, but TfL insists that completing the work before Westfield opens is in the best interests of passengers: "The decision to close the station now was made on the basis that it would cause the least disruption over time to our customers,” a spokesperson told ShepherdsBushW12.com.
“If we hadn't done the work to replace the 80-year-old escalators now, while all the other work was being done on the station, we would have risked both the escalators failing at any time and the possibility of having to shut the station without notice, as well as inconveniencing many more passengers, as we know that the numbers using the station are set to significantly increase,” TfL said.
“Closing the station now and completing all of the work on the escalators and ticket hall in one go was the best option, rather than closing the station at a later date after the Centre (Westfield) opens."
17 July 2008