Travelators to Replace London’s Underground Trains ?

World’s oldest network of underground trains or the ‘Tube’, as the Londoners popularly refer to; is being revivified- well, atleast conceptually. While there are updates about converting the abandoned tunnels into power generating walkways and hydroponic farms, a technological makeover is being suggested for the Circle Line Route, one of the most traveled circuits of the underground. London-based architecture firm NBBJ has come up with a design suggestion which they claim would eventually solve the current issues of overcrowding, overheating and frequent delays. Christian Coop and his team at NBBJ released conceptual renders which depict the Notting Hill Gate station inside the underground tunnel lit with overhead skylights and people hopping onto this travelator. The design concept was sent in response to a call of ideas by New London Architecture to improve daily life in London.

Courtesy of NBBJ

Courtesy of NBBJ

An integral part of the larger tube network, Circle Line happens to be one of the routes with maximum footfall, running 17 miles across the ring, from Hammersmith to Edgware Road to Westminster and then looping back. The year 2015 marks the 110th anniversary since Circle Line was electrified. Most of its length and almost all of its stations are now connected to other underground terminals. NBBJ’s design intervention replaces the tube train with automated walkways. The exclusion of the carriages from the tunnel allows ample room for infrastructural facilities such as more seats, wider platforms and periodic pause points. The electrically powered three lane walkway, offers the travelers a choice to travel at slow, moderate and fast pace. Not only these travelators provide the commuters a faster transition but also help in saving time. The researchers at NBBJ have estimated that the travelator would cater to about 55,000 travelers who would board these lanes on a routine basis.

Courtesy of NBBJ

Courtesy of NBBJ

The three parallel routes glide at varying speeds starting from the slowest lane. The ‘feeder’ lane which runs at the speed of 3 mph, is approachable from the platform, allowing access to the subsequent faster lanes. This lane is followed by the 6mph lane which transfers commuters to the fastest lane. The fastest one runs at a speed of 9mph. It also accelerates up to 12 and 15 mph during certain patches. NBBJ states “The result would be considerably quicker, more enjoyable and healthier journeys”, claiming this new form of public transport to be the most convenient and fitness friendly solution. The current design consumes about an hour for tube trains to complete the loop. The upcoming travelator would shorten this travel time by 56 minutes by an uninterrupted pace, unlike the train stopping at every station. Also the pedestrianized connectivity between the stations might add to the quality of the journey.

Courtesy of NBBJ

Courtesy of NBBJ

Kudos to their imagination, to visualize an underground tube station without any train! This radical proffer seems to be the right answer for the ‘not so favorite’ subterranean passages.

By: Khushboo Vyas

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