FOI request detail

Step free access on Central line at Bank station

Request ID: FOI-0226-1920
Date published: 20 May 2019

You asked

There was a short comment in the recent TfL board minutes that a document explaining why step-free access wont be added to the Central line at Bank station was distributed to members. 5.12 of this document - Can I request a copy of the study and any communications that lead to the decision made not to proceed. Thank you.

We answered

Our Ref:         FOI-0226-1920

Thank you for your request received on 22 April 2019 asking for information about step-free access (SFA) on the Central Line at Bank Station.

Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and our information access policy. I can confirm we do hold the information you require.

SFA to the Central line was never included in the original scope of the Bank Station Capacity Upgrade (BSCU) project (set in 2012) due to concerns at the time over the degree of technical and engineering challenges that would need to be overcome, and the likely cost impact to the overall project budget. There was also concern that even if SFA to the Central line platforms was feasible, the acute curvature of the platforms and the rolling stock would still make SFA between train and platform difficult without manual boarding ramps.

It was also recognised that by the time BSCU completed, the Elizabeth line would be in service, providing SFA at Moorgate and Liverpool Street stations, allowing customers to interchange between the Northern, Circle, Hammersmith & City, and Elizabeth lines services in the City of London and thus improving accessibility and customer journeys in the area. Therefore SFA to the Central line was not included in the Transport and Works Act Order Powers or the delivery contract. 

Notwithstanding, following discussions with London TravelWatch, City of London, and Transport for All, we commissioned a feasibility study in 2018 to explore options for providing SFA to the Central line at Bank. This study did identify a viable technical option from street to platform level, but with an estimated cost of £30m. We will consider the merits of progressing the option in the context of the overall Accessibility programme. However, in terms of prioritisation, the cost of this enhancement would ‘crowd out’ many smaller SFA schemes.

Unfortunately, to provide the communications that lead to the above decision would exceed the ‘appropriate limit’ of £450 set by the Freedom of Information (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004.

This request would require us to go back further than 2012, when the projects requirements and objectives were set. As the above decision was taken before 2012, tracking down a paper trail for a decision taken between 2005/6 to 2010/11 would be very difficult as several people would have been involved in this project, many of whom have changed roles or no longer work for TfL.

Under section 12 of the FOI Act, we are not obliged to comply with a request if we estimate that the cost of determining whether we hold the information, locating and retrieving it and extracting it from other information would exceed the appropriate limit. This is calculated at £25 per hour for every hour spent on the activities described.

We have estimated that it would cost over £450 to provide a response to your current request. This is because it is estimated that it would take over 18 working hours to retrieve and compile the information you have requested.

To help bring the cost of responding to your request within the £450 limit, you may wish to consider narrowing its scope so that we can more easily locate, retrieve and extract the information you are seeking. For example, by removing the request for correspondence and just requesting a copy of the feasibility report. Please note that Feasibility Studies are detailed and technical documents designed to collate large amounts of data that help London Underground’s highly experienced teams to decide on the best way forward. Much of these reports depend on context of wider TfL plans which cannot be adequately covered in an independent feasibility report.

We find it more helpful and productive to meet stakeholders and address their specific areas of concern in a face to face meeting, and are happy to accommodate this if required.

If you want to refine your request or make a Freedom of Information Act request in future, please bear in mind that the Freedom of Information Act allows you to request recorded information held by Transport for London. You should identify the information that you want as clearly and concisely as you can, specifying the types of document that you are looking for. You might also consider limiting your request to a particular period of time, geographical area or specific departments of TfL.

Although your request can take the form of a question, rather than a request for specific documents, TfL does not have to answer your question if it would require the creation of new information or the provision of a judgement, explanation, advice or opinion that was not already recorded at the time of your request.

Please note that we will not be taking further action until we receive your revised request.

In the meantime, if you have any queries or would like to discuss your request, please feel free to contact me.

Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal.

Yours sincerely

Gemma Jacob
Senior FOI Case Officer
FOI Case Management Team
General Counsel
Transport for London

[email protected]


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