The new Moorgate station – accessibility

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The new Moorgate entrance hall/ticketing areas, which are part of the Crossrail/Elizabeth Line construction process, opened earlier this week, and many have been extolling the newly available disability access here as well as the station in general (which I wrote about here.) It does, in fact, provide access to the Metropolitan, Circle, and Hammersmith & City Lines, as well as, in time, the Northern and Elizabeth Lines. On paper, it appears to be a good idea, and the work is commendable. However, there are some caveats that no one has mentioned, possibly due to a general lack of interest. Here we look at the accessibility enhancements to the station – and then bring up those very caveats.

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General view of the new station entrance the day after it opened.

The new builds that are part of Moorgate station are generally excellent, and there appears to be some standardisation, at least in new builds, such as ticket gate lines arranged to make it easier to reach lifts for example. While this hasn’t been fully considered until now due to rather poor station layouts – and the fact that many don’t have lifts – we are seeing a methodology being established at Moorgate. It was evident in the earlier build at the Blomberg entrance to the Waterloo & City Line, where the wide aisle gates were placed closest to the lift (but no seats were provided), and this is the new norm.

Even though seats are provided by the lifts at Moorgate, I’m not sure if its because it’s an Elizabeth Line station or part of a new general policy to be implemented on the tube, particularly in the central area. We’ll see if that’s the case when the two new Battersea Power Station stops open later this year – or if it’s something limited to those stations shared with the Elizabeth Line. There are of course seats by the accessible lifts on some other parts of the tube system but not in the core section area. Curiously the lifts at the other side (Liverpool Street) do not offer any sort of seats, so its possible this is a more recent decision. The lifts at Moorgate are of course much newer than those at Liverpool Street!

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General view of the new entrance hall. The yellow barriers protect the escalators down to the Elizabeth Line. The lift (Lift B) to the westbound Metropolitan/Circle/Hammersmith & City platforms (and ultimately the Elizabeth Line) is on the left. At the far end are the steps to the same platforms whilst just out of sight on the left is the smaller southern entrance from Moorfields. This entrance is shown in the next picture.

In the newly refurbished/newly built areas of Moorgate station, there are no ramps or areas of restricted width of any kind. It has benefited from the fact that it was completely rebuilt in the 1960s. It had previously been a war-damaged station, having been heavily bombed during WWII. The station was rebuilt as part of the general Barbican/City of London rebuilds of the time, and much of this work involved the use of level walking routes (though no lifts, for example) because it was thought that the motor car should be limited to certain areas and people should have more opportunity to move around and enjoy the Barbican and Moorgate areas of the City of London.

It means that the Moorgate station of the 1960s followed suit with all areas being level as far as possible (apart from access staircases and subways) with spacious platform areas – plus a level route from the eastern Metropolitan, Circle, and Hammersmith & City Lines to the Great Northern route’s (Moorgate to Finsbury Park) escalators. Except for seasoned travellers, not many are aware of this route. In any case the work done sixty years ago has given the new-look 2021 station a level boarding facility without even having to remodel the platforms. It does of course make for a somewhat dated look on the platform level areas – even though there’s some new tiling to bright things up a bit.

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The southern part of the new entrance (this division is caused by the Elizabeth Line escalators (out of sight on the right.) The one wide aisle gate can be seen, which is of course placed nearest to the lift.

The main entrance to Moorgate has two gatelines, one small at the southern end and a substantial main section on the other side. There’s three gate lines and the one wide aisle example plus the other at the southern end of the main section are both nearest to Lift B which is for the westbound platforms, the Northern Line and the Elizabeth Line. Its interesting how they’ve arranged it that the likeliest busiets access portion is to be served by two wide aisle gates.

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The main section has two wide aisle ticket gates, the southernmost one is adjacent to the lift too (as well as the pair of ticket machines sited out of sight.)

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The entrance’s third wide aisle gate is at the northern end, suitably placed for the lift (just out of sight to the right) that goes down to the eastbound Metropolitan/Circle/Hammersmith & City platforms.

Moorgate’s new accessible lifts

There’s four of these, two serve the Metropolitan/Circle/Hammersmith & City platforms. These are the only platforms at the moment however later the Northern Line and the Elizabeth Line will to be connected to the lifts. The simple reason the Northern Line cannot be reached just yet is because it entails the use of the yet to be opened link passageway from the Elizabeth Line station area.

Although the diagram is that for Lift B the arrangement is the same across the board and each lift will have a similar diagram.

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Lift B to the westbound Metropolitan/Circle/Hammersmith & City platforms

This is Lift B to us passengers (or Lift L1 in terms of TfL staff identification.) It serves the Metropolitan/Circle/Hammersmith & City westbound platforms, but is also the important one because in due course it will go down to the Crossrail (Elizabeth Line) platforms as well as afford a new accessible link to the Northern Line platforms.

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The sign for Lift A to the westbound Metropolitan/Circle/Hammersmith & City platforms. Both Lift A and B’s signs don’t say much. they just point in the direction of the lifts in question. Its possible these could be updated when the Elizabeth Line finally opens.

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Lift B (for the Metropolitan/Circle/Hammersmith & City westbound platforms, and later the Elizabeth/Northern Lines.) Note the seats. As I have said elsewhere Moorgate is the first new accessible station on the central core of the tube system to offer seats adjacent to the lift itself.

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The controls inside Lift B. The control button for level minus 1M is for the Elizabeth and Northern Lines. Its not yet in use. I cant tell you what the text on that reads as a temporary label with its lettering inverted has been stuck on this to make the text underneath illegible!

Level minus 1M is actually the Moorgate end of the mid level link which will give an alternative route to Liverpool Street’s Elizabeth Line station areas avoiding the main platforms themselves. In fact its also a walking route from there to the Northern Line at Moorgate and the accessible section forms a part of that mid level waking route although it must be said this route does drop down midway between the Elizabeth Line platforms and both ends of this section is connected by escalators, which means disabled people will have to use the lifts down to the Elizabeth Line platforms if they are to venture towards the Liverpool Street exits.

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The westbound platform level for Lift B – again with seats! Take note this is more of a Crossrail style however!

Lift A to the eastbound Metropolitan/Circle/Hammersmith & City platforms

Lift A is curiously numbered Lift 4 for the purposes of TfL staff and maintenance! Its a one stop lift and the only other such besides Lift C which will link to the Northern Line.

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The sign for Lift A, which of course is for the eastbound Metropolitan/Circle/Hammersmith & City lines only!

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As I have explained Lift A is down a side passage sited alongside the stairs leading to the eastbound sub-surface platforms. The yellow barriers protecting the Elizabeth line escalators can be seen in the distance.

Its not to say the other accessible lift has been forgotten. There is indeed a wide aisle gate at the northern end of the gatelien which is nearest to the lift serving the eastbound sub surface platforms. On the whole this lift seems the least inspiring of the two because it is tucked away down a passage besides the London Underground control room and at first glance its not very interesting. However thats where one is wrong! There is a cuteness factor to it! When one goes down in the lift and arrives at the lower landing, that’s the surprise!

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Lift A at its lower level for the eastbound sub-surface platforms. But here’s the surprise – it has its own private lobby!

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Lift A’s lobby area with its seats, window and a help point!

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The door to Lift A’s lobby area is labelled as such too!

This lift lobby is actually a small waiting area partitioned off from the main corridor and comes complete with seats. There is a large window of course but its likely more for security reasons than anything else because if the waiting area was totally enclosed I’m sure vandals would be having a field day.

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Lift A’s ‘private lobby’ area. Picture taken the day after the new facilities had been opened, eg 6th July 2021. Although this is the general route to the Northern Line that is via the escalators only and PRM will need to take Lift B instead and access the Northern Line via the Elizabeth Line station’s immediate level area.

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The sign at the end of the eastbound platforms. Its slightly ambiguous because it indicates a lift going in both directions (up and down from here) but it depends on where that is. Its not Lift A for example if that is what it means! Also if this is somehow meant to denote (in advance of the Elizabeth Line’s opening) that the lifts connect to the Northern Line, to be honest I don’t think its a very helpful sign. I think the signs are one aspect that lets the station down in terms of what could be considered good accessibility.

Moorgate, on the whole, appears to be well-designed in terms of accessibility, with exception of the aforementioned signage issues. The new build contains a number of pitfalls – it’s not the lifts but options for forward travel from Moorgate. This we will look at next, being another aspect of the Elizabeth Line’s muddled approach to disability/PRM needs. The most notable example, as some may be aware, is the non-standard platform heights that have been discussed numerous times in recent years.

An inconsistent choice of routes with mixed accessibility options offered by way of using the new Elizabeth line

This is not about the problem of accessibility at the stations outside of the main core section of the Elizabeth Line but rather the very limited options of wanting to interchange to other lines or stations. When we consider the disability or PRM access at Moorgate/Liverpool Street (and also with Paddington intended as an interchange point) it shows that Crossrail (Elizabeth Line) will provide some of the bigger conundrums in terms of accessibility.

If one thinks ‘Liverpool Street’ and heads to that station in order to interchange with Crossrail there, the problem is one cannot do that. Not easily. Now what is the problem with that? One cannot go to Liverpool Street (heading from the east) and merely change to Crossrail westbound there because there isn’t any access from the Central or the subsurface lines. That has to be done at Moorgate and people need to be aware of this. Certainly if they are in the know they could change at Stratford or Whitechapel en route, however if they are coming from say Aldgate, Aldgate East, Tower Hill for example, then either Moorgate or Barbican are the best options for interchange.

In the eastbound direction it would be best to interchange to Crossrail at Liverpool Street, rather than say the more obvious location which would be Farringdon. That is because in order to get from the eastbound platform at Farringdon to the Elizabeth Line eastbound (or even westbound if one wants to go to Tottenham Court Road or Bond Street) means one will have to go up in the lift, exit the station and then renter it on the other side of Cowcross Street and then go down into the Elizabeth Line station itself! Not exactly an endearing process but rather one that makes the task even harder for those who use wheelchairs for example and that s why Liverpool Street eastbound is the easier option – because there’s far less faff.

I previously mentioned the inconsistencies at Farringdon, but now that the Liverpool Street, Moorgate, and Paddington Elizabeth Line stations are ready for Crossrail, one can better imagine how these interchanges will work, and the inconsistencies will also exist at these new locations. What it does mean is that the same inconsistencies continue to exist at Farringdon. When it is stated that the Elizabeth Line will be completely accessible, it is only true up to a point and ultimately depends on where one wishes to go. It is not to say that the Elizabeth Line is not completely accessible; it is in the central core, but depends on which exits and lines/stations one wishes to use. Clearly if the option does not exist or is very improvised, it does not make the Elizabeth Line fully accessible, does it?

The same problem exist in the reverse direction, for Paddington. If one were to take the M/C/H&C from somewhere through to Paddington and then try to change to the Elizabeth Line, well they would be somewhat stuck. Again it means a series of moves entailing going up to street level (involving three different lifts) and across Bishops Bridge and down Eastbourne Terrace to reach the Elizabeth Line station (a nice if longer route perhaps) or via the main Paddington station footbridge and then the lift down to Platform One and through the Clock Arch to reach the Elizabeth Line. Bizzarely even when the new Praed Street tube station entrance opens in a few years time that wont make the Paddignton interchange any better!

There’s one way of avoinding the Paddington conundrum if one is heading westbound – that’s to get off the M/C/H&C at Barbican (there’s less hassle) and then use the lifts from that platform down to the Elizabeth Line station – and from there straight on for Ealing Broadway, Heathrow or wherever. But remember its only the Heathrow stations that are fully 100% accessible!

Exploring the conundrums even further, if one wanted to get off at Euston Square having come from the west of London (Heathrow for example) it might be thought a good idea to get off at Paddington and then get the sub surface Circle or Hammersmith & City Lines to Euston Square. Its impossible! The trick here would be to continue on the Elizabeth Line to Farringdon (aka the Barbican station exit) and use the lift to the westbound platform at Barbican. From there its easy travel to Euston Square and its perfect because the one and only lift at Euston Square happens to service the westbound platform!

(Let it be said Euston Square having one lift access in one direction offers all sorts of funny limitations because if one were to go from there intending to go east, well the first place that one can catch a eastbound train is by going west to Paddington (Hammersmith platforms) and then taking the next train back eastbound. But changing to the Elizabeth Line at Paddington wont work because of the convoluted routes from the Circle/Hammersmith platforms to the Elizabeth line which I mentioned earlier. For example if one intends to go from Euston Square to Liverpool Street mainline station its far better to switch across the platforms at Paddington and then head back east on a Circle or a Hammersmith service.

There are advantages in avoiding the temptation to change to Crossrail/Elizabeth Line on other parts of the London transport system too, as well as the Elizabeth Line being slower than the tube in some cases, but I’ll leave those for another post!

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