This is about Harrington humps on the Bakerloo Line for the first time. One might think to themselves ‘have TfL actually gone mad?’ The Bakerloo isn’t any sort of accessible tube in fact its one of the worst because barely any of its stations have accessibility. The only access symbols on the entire line are for Willesden Junction, Wembley Central and Harrow & Wealdstone. If one knows the line well those platforms are not ‘accessible’ thus there’s really no proper level boarding anywhere on the Bakerloo! Not exactly a convenient tube line is it? It could be a reason why TfL has now decided to introduce Harrington humps on the line, however these new ones are a sort of hit and miss affair in terms of quality. These humps have now been introduced at Oxford Circus station and means the line now offers scope for a marginally greater accessibility than has been possible before.
First a big word of warning! Whilst the subtitle of this post might be about the step free concept, in general one will find the subject that is about to be discussed is sort of problematic in terms of what it means to have accessibility. The very thought of providing better step free access onto the Bakerloo is commendable, however it comes as a mixed bag of rights and wrongs as we will see. Anyhow, in relation to this latest development TfL’s accessibility tube maps now reflect a sort of truer picture (although its still not strictly accurate as we will see later.) I say that because for a long time the Bakerloo has been marked south of Willesden/Queens Park as far as Oxford Circus with a solid line to denote that one could travel this far and change to the Victoria Line. However that wasn’t exactly a case of being as simple as it looked. The Victoria Line platforms have had their Harrington humps for a long time, but the Bakerloo platforms haven’t had any thus one really needed assistance in order to get on or off a Bakerloo train. That is until now – March 2021.
Whilst the new Harrington humps give better access onto the Bakerloo Line’s trains, its still not perfect for there’s about an inch and half (3cm or so) difference, which is variable too, between platform level and the train’s floor level.
TfL has now built Harrington humps on the Bakerloo platforms at Oxford Circus. No announcement has been made about this or the fact that accessibility on the tube has been, in a sense, extended somewhat. The southbound hump was installed I believe over the weekend of 27 and 28th February, whilst the northbound one was installed over the weekend of 13 and 14th March 2021. I never saw the earlier works because the southbound one is right at the northern end of the platform and I always get off the Bakerloo right at the southern end of the platform, whilst its only very recently I’ve seen the northbound one (because I always get on the Bakerloo at the northern end because of how the passageways to and from the escalators are positioned.) There certainly wasn’t any Harrington hump on the northbound before the 13 and 14th March.
The Harrington hump on the southbound Bakerloo at Oxford Circus. This hump was built over the weekend of 27/28 February 2021.
At this point I am sure some will be wondering ‘what’s the point of building Harrington humps at a station that doesn’t have any accessible lifts?’ Its certainly a good question! However these Harrington humps are here for a different reason – despite the fact Oxford Circus tube doesn’t have any accessible lifts – rather its because the station provides cross platform interchange between the Bakerloo and Victoria Lines. If one can get to Oxford Circus then a good proportion of the remainder of the tube system becomes accessible to various extents by way of using the Victoria Line and its links to other tube lines or even surface rail and London Overground. Thus by having these Harrington humps at Oxford Circus TfL has instantly made a fair number of other stations better connected to each other in terms of access for say someone who uses a wheelchair or perhaps a mother with a pram.
Let’s get to the nitty gritty of these new Harrington humps! Whilst I was initially excited to see these when I spotted them very briefly whilst boarding a train a few days ago, a further visit to get some better pictures of them showed that appearances can be rather deceptive…. as my pictures show, the sense one has upon seeing these new humps is quite deflating. The intent to provide these may have been good – but the actual finished work leaves many questions that need to be asked.
The quality of these new Harrington humps isn’t that good….
Overall view of the northbound Bakerloo’s Harrington hump at Oxford Circus. At first glance it looks okay, but its not really when one examines it closely… for a start different types of material are used and the end result is a sort of uneven raised platform section. I know the condition of the train in question isn’t good either! The reason is there’s a lot of ongoing vandalism to these trains and that has been the case for along time now. I discussed that many months ago in a different post.
One of the aspects of these new Harrington humps is they are somewhat problematic. I could be wrong however these new ramps don’t seem to fully comply with the standards and regulations specified. The fact these ramps have even been provided will, I am sure, be appreciated by some of those who will need the better accessibility. On first impression I too thought it was a great move however upon getting a closer look at the new ramps the quality of these ramps is very questionable. Compared to all the other Harrington humps on London’s tube system, this brand new pair at Oxford Circus are rather shoddy to say the least. They’re not completely level and there’s differences in level between the joined up bits. These new humps are not built in terms of a sturdy nature as the others were, properly built, and seamlessly fitting into the remainder of the platforms they were sited on. These new humps are evidently made of a mix of wood and stone platform edging and its in fact a weird sort of combination. Its just so amateurish in fact and I personally wonder if the attempt to build these had even been properly planned – or whether it was some sudden last minute inspiration and the humps cobbled together using whatever materials happened to be laying around!
The joins are not very good. They’re not level either.
This is a particularly bad example. There is a somewhat significant mismatch in levels between the ramp and the level section that follows. Its a potential tripping point. The quality of the tactile surface changes too and I’m sure that must be down to the need to use whatever materials were available.
A poor hotch potch of differing materials and a quite abrupt chicane that leads onto the first ramp.
The Victoria Line’s Harrington humps at Oxford Circus are of better quality (as are those at its other stations and those on the other tube lines too.) These are absolutely level, the materials used are consistent and the inclines are concise.
Again one can see there’s differing types of material that has been used for the Bakerloo’s new humps. In this picture alone three different surfaces can be seen.
The southbound Bakerloo Line Harrington hump leaves a lot to be desired. One can very clearly see the different surfaces in use. The sudden rise (marked in yellow/black warning colours) from the old platform level onto the new ramp is obvious. Its not just that the ramp nearest to the camera seems to rise and then drop off before rising again, and it does in fact incline towards the tracks. That is not good because the rule around building platforms is they should slope very slightly down and away from the tracks. And the reason for that is to prevent prams, wheelchairs, buggies, from accidently rolling onto the tracks.
If one is at all aware of the rules on platform construction, I think this would be a no-no. That uneven bit in the middle definitely slopes towards the tracks. Its just not on.
Its great to see better level boarding for the Bakerloo Line, but the fact this new Harrington hump on the southbound platform has three different levels leaves a lot to be desired. It should be level throughout. Note the different materials used for different parts of the ramp. Quite why they had to build it like this is beyond me.
I’m not sure why TfL has decided to use all these different materials, even different tactile surfaces too. If it was meant to be experimental well at least that would be an explanation. However TfL has locations where new things can be tried and tested before being used on the tube itself. In that case it seems to me these examples at Oxford Circus are not test examples but are permanent – and if that is the case then in my view these new Harrington humps are simply a very poor quality job. If its because TfL are so cash strapped that such a poor job has been done, well I think in that case they should have left it for the time being, no matter how each and every one of us who has an interest in accessibility dearly wants to see the tube improved as much as it can be.
How these new Harrington Humps could improve transit across the London tube system
There other aspects to consider about the new accessible cross platform interchange at Oxford Circus. It doesn’t mean other stations on the Bakerloo will be getting humps anytime soon, however this pair of Harrington humps will, in terms of accessibility, open up further the connections that can be made to/from the Bakerloo – for example the Jubilee Line/ Metropolitan Line will benefit because of how these fit into the system at Finchley Road and Baker Street – even though there are no Harrington humps at these interchange points yet. It also means one will now be able to use the Bakerloo, switch platforms at Oxford Circus, travel to Stockwell and switch platforms to the Northern Line – all with greater ease. Think about it one could travel down on the Metropolitan, switch to the Jubilee, then to the Bakerloo, then the Victoria, and finally the Northern. And when there becomes level boarding at each and every one of those interchange points the better it will be too!
Everyone thinks the Bakerloo doesn’t have any core central stations with accessibility of any sort and in fact TfL’s accessibility maps show this. In that case the thinking is wrong because the Bakerloo does have ONE central core station that is somewhat accessible (it has lifts and ramps of course) and in future when Crossrail does finally open there will be another accessible point at Paddington (and that will be even better when the new entrance hall and lifts from Praed Street come into use.) The other accessible point on the Bakerloo which already exists (and has existed for several decades) is that at Waterloo. Its not even marked on TfL’s accessible maps but I can assure you it is there and can be used. A word of warning however! The platforms are quite sharply curved and that is likely a reason why this isn’t advertised as a wheelchair access point. However if one has a lightweight pram or is perhaps a little more agile, and can use the end doors rather than the middle doors of the carriages, this could be an alternative access point in terms of reaching Waterloo station.
The southern end of the Bakerloo platform at Waterloo has one passageway that slopes down to the escalator hall and by that route one can reach the lifts to the surface.
Some might well say ‘what use is Waterloo via the Bakerloo Line when one can use the Jubilee Line to reach Waterloo anyway?’ Its a good point but again there’s a slight difference in the connections that can be made, thus in my view Waterloo (via the Bakerloo) does provide an extra element of accessibility that hasn’t been thought of previously. For example instead of using the Jubilee Line at Waterloo and then using the lifts and passageways at Green Park to switch from the Jubilee to the Victoria Line, one could use the Bakerloo Line and simply switch platforms at Oxford Circus. Its not actually so straightforward in terms of northbound from there because it means one has to go south to Lambeth North (no humps here at all) and then take the Bakerloo back north.
But what it means is if one is able to do it (taking into consideration the limitations imposed by the curved platforms at Waterloo) this route is probably better than going via Green Park. Southbound its even better (and less lifts used) because the accessibility at Waterloo is straight off the Bakerloo’s southbound platform there. As an example one could travel down the Piccadilly to Finsbury Park, switch to the Victoria Line down to Oxford Circus then the Bakerloo to reach Waterloo. Most will probably think the way to do it is to use the Victoria Line to Green Park instead and change there but that involves using more lifts and passageways! With these new Harrington humps now at Oxford Circus, changing onto the Bakerloo is considerably better than it was before and its a more viable option too! In the long run there’s no hard and fast rule and whichever changing points are used and the different ones will become a matter of personal preference. However generally I would think the Bakerloo route would be for the more agile whilst the Green Park/Jubilee route would be for those with far less mobility.
The other end of the passageway at Waterloo. It slopes down, turns a corner, then slopes down again to reach the intermediate level from which the lifts to the ticket hall/surface can be reached.
The accessibility point at Waterloo on the Bakerloo Line is towards the southern end of the platform and involves a corridor that leaves the platform at an angle, it curves a bit, and meets the bottom of the escalators. Turn left and it goes down another slope to meet the main intermediate level which exists throughout the tube station. Proceed towards the Jubilee/Northern Lines and find the moving walkway which leads to the intermediate Jubilee Line escalator hall, where one can get the lift to the ticket office and surface. What it means is just one lift is used in the process instead of three lifts (one at Waterloo to the Jubilee and two at Green Park from the Jubilee to the Victoria.)