Battersea Power Station may have a ridiculous name, but it seems to have satisfied Tube passengers. The northern line was extended there on September 20 on a new section of the Charing Cross branch in Kennington, with an intermediate station at Nine Elms.
The new terminus is now the top-rated tube station on Google with a rating of 4.9 out of 5, surpassing all 271 others and nearly every other location on the London tube and rail map. There are a few tram stops, piers and the curious Epsom Downs National Rail station that get a perfect 5, but the comments left for the latest addition to the Tube suggest it’s the real deal.
‘Beautiful’, ‘fantastic’, ‘modern’ and ‘great’ are the four words that appear in almost every review. High praise indeed.
READ MORE: ‘I went to the exact center of London and it was literally a pile of rubbish’
After my colleague James Mayer covered the preview and opening of the station, and my recent trip to Malden Manor, London’s worst-rated station overall, I decided it was only right for me to start investigating whether the station really had all was worth hype.
The journey there was a bit disappointing. Coincidentally, the Northern Line train I happened to get on to Kennington was covered (and I mean, COVERED!) with handwritten stickers that read ‘MUST BE IN ZONE 2’.
There was a sticker on every line chart below the Battersea Power Station. Despite Google’s acclaim, the new station has clearly made someone very angry.
To some extent I could sympathize with their reservations. Of all the places in London in dire need of public transport, it’s probably not Battersea Power Station with its multi-millionaire residents and nearby stations at Battersea Park, Queenstown Road and Vauxhall.
The way the Northern Line and Zone 1 appear to be artificial Out of shape to accommodate private housing developers and the US embassy due to private money is likely to be a hot topic for debates on London’s transport ethics.
I feel guilty for the Old Kent Road, Lewisham and Peckham begging for a Bakerloo line extension.
I changed to a Battersea Power Station train in Kennington and had to wait six trains for a through train to arrive. The first train stopped at Morden and then four trains arrived at the platform.
The train ride to the new branch is smooth, but, typical of the northern line, very noisy. The new tunnelled section reverberated violently in much the same way the sections more than a century old still do.
What greeted me was the future. Compared to the time capsule that the Tube can be (cough cough, Bakerloo line), the high ceilings, metallic finish and subtle design made an immediate positive impression on me.
The transport geek in me appreciated that the station was built in such a way that any expansion to the southwest remains possible and that the station is clearly too big for what it needs to be now to future-proof any unforeseen additional demand.
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Money well spent, nothing stingy.
The station features retail units, which will add value when occupied, and free ATMs, which is like looking for a needle in a haystack in London in 2022.
This is a residential station with character, it is not just two unattractive concrete slabs that you are thrown out of in the middle of nowhere.
Even the toughest of gentrification skeptics would accept that the station fits into its environment, offers better transport links and is built to a high standard. It’s not St Pancras, but Battersea is now really ‘on the map’, literally with the new look of the Tube map.
Along the platforms it was a pleasure to see TfL posters of black staff members they are proud of outside of Black History Month and a range of artwork, including a kinetic sculpture that wraps around the top edge of the station.
The customer information is good, the station is accessible (although not perfect as some disappointed passengers found) and there were employees visible at both platform and ticket hall level.
While it doesn’t have the grandeur of the Jubilee Line 1999 extension stations or recent upgrades to the Paris Métro, it has an understated 2020 vibe that will come in handy once the wider Battersea Power Station development is complete.
This is what a modern London looks like.
What you want from a functional, future-proof and frankly formidable subway station is all here – even if the name is a little crazy.
Have you visited the Battersea Power Station station? What were your impressions? Tell us in the comments below.
Follow Callum Marius Transport Correspondent from MyLondon on social media @callummarius.