Could disused London tunnels become a cycle / pedestrian network?
Let’s face it, London is hugely congested and as the megopolis soars past the 8 million mark it’s only going to get worse, but could the answer to this congestion be a network of subterranean footways and cycleways - and it's not just about congestion, could this kind of subterranean network be a lure to get more people to visit London and the rest of the UK?
Design firm Gensler think this may be one of the answers! The proposal, dubbed the London Underline aims to utilise London’s disused tube tunnels and stations and turn them into cycleways, walk ways and living breathing hubs deep under the capital. Although this is just a concept, it’s already getting a lot of attention from some serious players.
Earlier this week the concept won the Best Conceptual Project award at the London Planning Awards. Financing for the project would come in part from utilising kinetic paving which would use the footfall from pedestrians and friction from cyclists to generate electricity whilst there would also be cafes and click-and-collect points for online shopping.
A huge benefit of such a scheme is that much of the infrastructure is already in place with the connections to the surface being provided through existing tube stations.
The main unused tunnel in the tube network is a branch of the Piccadilly Line that runs beneath Kingsway from Holborn to the long abandoned Aldwych station as well as a longer tunnel running between Green Park and Charing Cross and the final part of the Jubilee Line which fell out of use following the extension of the eastern section became operational in 1999 whilst there are additional stretches of tunnels at Goodge Street and Stockwell.
There are also tunnels in place from the Second World War, deep bomb shelters, communication exchanges and disused reservoir chambers which could all be utilised and although it’s slightly incredulous to say this could all be connected up to form a city-wide subterranean network, there are many places where this could be carried out without the kinds of substantial investments that would be required for tunnelling.
It’s fair to say that many people in London hate the existing tube, so the idea of more under the ground living is not going to fill everyone with joy, however the project could create some really interesting spaces in the heart of the capital, generating additional revenues for Transport for London and creating more jobs including additional demand for construction workers and building materials and construction supplies. All great for the economy, hopefully some of this proposal will be implemented.