Tube on its way to Battersea as work starts on Northern line extension

Published: 23 November 2015

Council Leader Ravi Govindia and Mayor of London Boris Johnson were on the Battersea riverside this morning to mark the official start of works on the Northern line extension.

Mr Johnson gave the signal to start up a specially-designed 300m long conveyor belt that will transfer excavated earth from the tunnelling site to the river so it can be shipped down stream to Tilbury in Essex.

The project will see two new 3.2km tunnels constructed and two new stations built: one at the heart of the Battersea Power Station redevelopment and another at Nine Elms to the east.

The new Tube stops will provide local communities with a new underground connection and serve the area’s new developments including the US Embassy, Dutch Embassy and the redeveloped New Covent Garden Market.

Waste generated by the construction of the station and tunnels will be loaded on to barges and taken to Goshems Farm in East Tilbury in Essex, where it will be used to create arable farmland. Tunnelling for the Northern line extension is due to begin in early 2017 and will take six months to complete. At its peak, up to 26 barges a week will leave the Battersea site, each carrying around 1,000 tonnes of earth to Essex by river.

Transporting the excavated material in this way will remove over 40,000 lorry journeys from the capital’s busy roads, reducing traffic congestion and helping to keep cyclists and pedestrians safe. It will also reduce the site’s carbon footprint by 2,000 tonnes of CO2.

The project, which is being funded entirely through the private sector, will enable the regeneration of the Nine Elms on the South Bank, spurring economic growth and supporting around 25,000 new jobs and 20,000 new homes, including around 4,000 properties that are available exclusively to local people through a range of affordable housing schemes.

During construction, the Northern line extension will support around 1,000 jobs, which will have a positive impact on the whole UK economy, including around 50 apprenticeships through the supply chain across the country. 

The wider Nine Elms regeneration programme is also on course to provide around 22,000 construction jobs, including apprenticeships, graduate opportunities and other starter roles for young Londoners.

Once the extension opens, London Underground is planning to increase service frequencies on the Northern line to at least 30 trains per hour with the introduction of new trains. The extension will cut journey times to the West End and the City to just under 15 minutes.

Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council, said: “This Tube extension is transforming the fortunes of north Battersea. Around these new underground stations we’re building more than 6million square feet of new commercial and cultural space which will make Nine Elms a lively and exciting new addition to London’s South Bank. The regeneration programme is one of the greatest sources of new jobs and homes in the country and this would not be possible without the Tube link.”

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “The whirring into action of this fantastic machine marks a key moment in the delivery of the Northern line extension. This gigantic conveyor belt will enable a staggering 600,000 tonnes of material to be excavated from beneath south London and transported safely by barge on the Thames.

The full cost of the Northern line extension is expected to be up to £1bn, which is being funded entirely by the private sector through a package agreed between Battersea Power Station, Wandsworth Council, Lambeth Council, the Mayor of London and Government, which includes the creation of an Enterprise Zone from 2016 for a period of 25 years.

For more information about the extension to the Northern line and the funding package please visit