Moorgate station’s new entrance opens!

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The new Elizabeth Line (also combined Great Northern and London Underground) entrance at Moorgate opened nearly three years late on Monday, July 5, 2021! The new facility is exciting because it introduces new features not previously seen on the tube. It’s also the ONLY Elizabeth Line entrance that has been continuously used for the past six years or so, when a portion of it was made available for passenger use to access the westbound Circle, Hammersmith, and Metropolitan platforms. This is most likely due to historical reasons of access as well as convenience for the large number of City workers who use the station. The new facility provides enhanced accessibility in the form of lifts and wide gates which I’ll write about in a second post.

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The new and larger station entrance in Moorfields.

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Some of the ticket machines are located in the centre of the new entrance. The escalators to the Elizabeth Line can be seen to the left of these.

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The main bank of ticket machines are at the northern end of the new station facility.

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The top of the Elizabeth Line escalators, barricaded off until perhaps 2022! The lift down to the westbound platforms can be seen at left.

The new station’s train indicators – and a bit of colour theory!

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These new Elizabeth Line-style train indicators are one of Moorgate’s latest innovations. If desired, they can display Elizabeth Line trains and destinations. However, because that isn’t yet available, only the subsurface lines are displayed here. I have photos of these being tested that show Elizabeth Line trains. What’s interesting is that this is TfL’s first use of white for train indicators (rather than yellow or some sort of yellow-gold colour), and it follows the general trend on UK railways (first established by Thameslink, I believe, and now used by Southern and South West Railways and others) as well as bus systems throughout the UK to use white rather than yellow in terms of electronic displays.

Of course, TfL has been gradually introducing white indicators throughout the underground system, primarily in the form of digital clocks that need to be replaced, but also in the form of a rare couple of train destination indicators too. The ‘craze’ in the late 1980s and early 1990s was for yellow indicators, which were thought to provide better visibility and legibility. That is exactly correct. There was a reason for this, and it was because the yellow displayed at the time performed better than the white displays that were available at the time. It’s why even London’s Routemasters ditched all of their fantastic white displays in favour of these yellow ones, and that is because yellow displays were so much more accessible. In fact the kind of yellow at the time was perceived as being better for those who were partially sighted or blind. Because of advances in colour technology yellow is not necessarily the best these days.

The yellow text craze actually began back in the sixties when colour television started and it was found TV credits looked so much better in yellow than in white. Some call this ‘cable yellow’ – at least in terms of colour theory it was so much better that white and this ‘cable yellow’ provided the maximum contrast for legibility. Those early American TV adventure or cop shows and even Star Trek used ‘cable yellow’ for its opening and closing credits as You Tube shows! This was indeed the case back then when electronic or backlit displays were not so good, yellow was indeed the best colour for rendering the text. However, with advancements in technology the more advanced white rendered text has proven to provide an even greater clarity than yellow. Another reason is in the old days the colour spectrum was very limited thus yellow often (but not always) showed the best renderings. With digital displays the minimum is usually 16 million colours (though that can go up to 256 million colours or more) which means the best colours and contrasts can be shown. White isn’t actually a colour but a combination of all the visible colours and that comes as a result of how our eyes and brain processes mix the colours together.

When compared to the older yellow displays, the yellow text actually turns out to be quite dreadful – and no surprise by the end of the nineties/early 2000s most were junking their yellow display systems. TfL hasn’t done that so far – except on its buses – and that is for a good reason. One it would be exorbitantly expensive to replace all the dot matrix indicators. Second, the current batch of yellow dot matrix indicators do rather well even though they are not quite as good as the white ones. On the other hand the white dot matrix ones can in some cases be be far too bright whereas the yellow ones aren’t. In fact it depends on the amount of lumen (the light coming through the letters) as well as local lighting conditions, and the actual contrast that can be created as well as on the type of display being used. These new ones which have been in use on Thameslink for a good number of years now, are certainly some of the best that can be found even though they are rather expensive, and I think it’s a good move for TfL to be even using these new indicators on the tube. But keep in mind these are specifically Elizabeth Line style indicators, which means that plus the expense, well I doubt we’ll see widespread use of these except at those tube stations that too have Elizabeth Line services.

One curiosity with these new indicators was during my visit to Moorgate station, I spotted certain Metropolitan Line services were incorrectly being shown as Fast or Semi Fast! On the display one can see a westbound ‘Aldgate’ train displayed as a semi fast lol! It was probably a Watford train judging by the timetables (eg 16.16 from Aldgate.) One can too see a train destined for Great Portland Street as a fast service! What the indicators were saying in fact was this train non-stops from Moorgate to Great Portland Street and then terminates there! Judging from the Metropolitan’s timetables this was actually a fast for Amersham. Clearly in its first days of use the new train display system at Moorgate was somehow getting Watford and Amersham/Chesham fasts/semi fasts muddled up with the stopping services that are mandatory anyway between here and Baker Street – as well as the eventual destinations themselves. I mean Great Portland Street isn’t even a terminus for a start!

How much of Moorgate’s new station entrance is actually new?

A good question! In fact the facility has been in continued use in one form or another these last seven or eight years. Agreeably there’s a good amount of new build that has been undertaken here, but even before the new entrance was opened but there was a smaller entrance within the larger entrance in use – which provided direct access from Moorfields.

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The smaller entrance within the main Crossrail entrance (clearly quite incomplete at the time this is late 2017) which gave direct access to the eastbound platforms via the old station’s stairs.

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Until 2020 the entrance within an entrance was in continued use, this is a view of the station in the summer of 2020 and the smaller entrance is still in use, its white frame can just be seen near the centre of the larger entrance. This view also shows that Moorfields itself was a huge worksite – and that in a nutshell is why an alternative entrance to the station was proved in Fore Street as we will see in a moment.

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The new stairs from the eastbound platform. Ahead is the new entrance & ticket hall area with its unusual design of ceiling. There was a different arrangement for a while at the start of the Crossrail programme utilising a temporary approach staircase and footbridge, however I do not have pictures of that arrangement. The new stairs were built almost on the site of the older sixties built steps, in fact they use part of that alignment but were rather moved somewhat in order to permit space for the new lift which runs at the back to be built.

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As some reviewers have said, these are new stairs. Its practically the old sixties stairs entrance with a new look as evidenced by the seventies tiling look at the column by the side of the steps. The steps have been moved somewhat to allow for the new lift but still use part of the old sixties built alignment. The whole area here (and most of the sub surface platform areas) in fact has a mix of a sixties look as well as a late seventies look too (the columns for example.) I remember all this at a time when Metro Cammell DMU’s or Class 31s with a number of blue/grey British Rail coaches in tow could take a run on the sub surface lines through these very platforms without too much hassle! Try that now – and LU management will have a heart attack!

For five years, there was an additional western entrance to the station off Fore Street. This was a convenience facility because normally people would access the station via London Wall and Moorfields, but due to Crossrail’s construction work, Moorfields was unavailable (as my picture depicted earlier shows.) It meant constructing a temporary entrance at the end of Fore Street. This used the new Crossrail-built stairs down to the west side of the Circle/Hammersmith and Metropolitan platforms, which means that while the new Moorgate entrance has opened with what are billed as new stairs, those very stairs that are in use have been available to passengers since the summer of 2015!

At one time it was thought the Fore Street side of the station would in fact become an additional route to the platforms to complement the new entrance hall in Moorfields. That’s no longer the case.

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This unmarked tube entrance (at extreme right) in the midst of a building site was just off Fore Street to the rear of Moorgate Station. As the entrance was generally umarked (save for some TfL posters/signs sited some way inside the entrance lobby area) use of this facility was more a case of local knowledge especially from London Wall and Barbican areas. This entrance was in use from June 2015 to August 2020 with some variations in the layout over time. The stairs that led from this entrance now form the link from the large new ticket hall down to the westbound platforms.

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People using the new westbound platform stairs from the ticket hall would be forgiven for thinking they were using a totally new facility. They’re not! These are the very same stairs that were used for the temporary Fore Street entrance and in use since 2015. My picture shows these new stairs a few years back when they were in fact part of the access to Fore Street. The only difference today is people come from the left at the top of these stairs and down the Fore Street steps to reach the platforms. The next picture shows the same exact stairs, same central banister rails and the same exact flooring (cleaned and polished for its new role of course!)

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The same steps as in the previous picture! The Fore Street exit was straight up the top and through a passage. From the 5th of July 2021 passengers however began using a short flight (at upper right) from the new ticket hall and then they use the ex Fore Street stairs to reach the platforms. One can see the different colours in the panels on the top wall indicating the different builds (eg 2014/15 built steps for the Fore Street entrance and 2020/21 built steps for the bit from the new ticket hall.)

Similarly the stairs to the east side of the Circle/Hammersmith and Metropolitan platforms, those stairs too were part of the access from the one entrance further along Moorfields sited where the original station entrance stood and even though those stairs are new they basically use part of the old sixties arrangement. The stairs were moved somewhat to make way for Lift L4 (Lift A on the station maps) that would link the new ticket hall and the westbound platform area.

In fact as it turns out a fair bit bit of the old station was reused in one way or another to build the new facility! Here’s another example. This is the new (reused) subway linking the Northern/National Rail and the LUL westbound platforms with a brand new lift on the right giving access to the new ticket hall above. This site was actually the old subway arrangement built during the station’s modernisation in the sixties! Part of it was given over for the construction of a new accessible lift and the remainder given a brand new makeover.

The section at the other end which leads onto the westbound platform is at least brand new. Again the old section of subway had to be altered to make space for Lift L1 (Lift B as on the station maps. Lift L1 is the one that goes down to an intermediate concourse where another lift leads to the Northern Line (this one is not yet open) and a further one to the Crossrail/Elizabeth Line platforms.

In fact the arrangement is a little like that at Barbican where the access to Crossrail/Elizabeth Line is from the westbound platform, same as at at Moorgate. In other words its a sort of unidirectional facility because there’s no direct access from the eastbound platform. Similarly as in terms of Barbican station where the main disability access will be gained from Farringdon West (in Crossrail/Elizabeth Line jargon Barbican is Farringdon East and the main entrance is Farringdon West), the main disability access to the Elizabeth Line here will be gained via the Liverpool Street entrance. However there are still caveats in using the subsurface lines to access Crossrail/Elizabeth Line – the result being one needs to be careful as to which platforms need to be used and so on – something I hope to explain in a later post.

Anyway here’s some pictures of the old/new subway arrangement and new the lift that was built in part of the subway and upper staircase areas….

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The new lift in use and the ‘new’ subway at left which was in fact built nearly sixty years earlier! Picture taken the day after the new facilities had been opened, eg 6th July 2021.

What is unusual about this new accessible lift facility is its the very first such on the central area of London Underground to provide a dedicated lobby area as well as seating! Evidently this is is an influence from the Crossrail/Elizabeth Line designed stations on the east and west side of the core route.

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Its not the same exact view but its the same location as the previous! The old sixties subway stairs direct from the eastbound platform were filled in and the new lift lobby built in its place. This is a view of the steps before they were filled in. At the time I took this picture the former railings along the top of the stairs were still extant. The new arrangement with its hefty solid blue tiled wall does feel somewhat closed compared to the old order! Couldn’t they have used a glass partition instead of this wall?

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Not a brilliant picture – but its the same location again! The stairs, now infilled, have become the new lift lobby, which can be seen partially completed in this view. There was a lot of work still to do at this point in time however in due course it would end up looking like the picture taken on 6th July 2021. The yet unfinished blue tiled wall which can be seen at left is visible in the new shots of the same location.

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This picture is taken from about where the guy in the previous picture can be seen. At one time this view would have been one of looking at the other entrance to the subway under the sub surface lines. The old steps are very likely still extant underneath this new floor area!

As one can see from these pictures the new Moorgate isn’t exactly all new is it? Its a good enough improvement though!

In fact Crossrail itself says the new tube entrance at Moorgate is refurbished. That pretty much explains it all!

As part of the work undertaken by Crossrail, a refurbished station entrance for Moorgate station on Moorfields
is now open. Step-free access to the London Underground’s Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City
lines has been provided with new lifts serving the eastbound and westbound platforms. The new entrance is
more spacious at 65 metres wide, with a longer gateline, six new ticket vending machines and customer
information screens providing an improved customer experience for those using the station. Source: Crossrail

The new Crossrail/Elizabeth Line entrance at Moorgate takes up a much larger footprint than the former entrance. Where the stairs to the westbound platforms used to begin its now where the line diagrams stand! The stairs have been moved possibly 25 metres or so westward and now enter the westbound platforms from the opposite direction!

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The new Crossrail entrance is located on the site of the old sixties built Moorgate station entrance, seen here in 2008 and much modified. The Sweet Express on the right later became a Holland and Barrett. Source: Flickr

In a follow up I look at what Moorgate’s new facilities offer in terms of accessibility.

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