Hampstead traders protest over tube closure
FURIOUS Hampstead traders are campaigning against the proposed Northern line closures amid fears they will decimate business. They gathered outside the tube station on Saturday to voice concern about the weekend and early evening closures –
FURIOUS Hampstead traders are campaigning against the proposed Northern line closures amid fears they will decimate business.
They gathered outside the tube station on Saturday to voice concern about the weekend and early evening closures - expected to last at least 16 months.
The line upgrade is being carried out by the same firm responsible for the hugely delayed Jubilee renovations that have provoked despair among West Hampstead traders and residents.
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David Bouchier, of NW3 business group, said: "It is not just the disruption from the closures but also the additional disruption caused by the rail replacement.
"TfL should come and talk to traders and residents to explain exactly what they are doing. Otherwise we just have to read about it in the press.
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"The weekend closures will cause the real problems. They are already scheduled for a year. But will the reality be more given what has happened with the Jubilee line?
"We want to know if they have learnt lessons from the Jubilee overrun. You cannot trust what TfL and Tube Lines are saying."
Rinaldo Mollura, owner of restaurant Villa Bianca and the Coffee Cup in Hampstead, added: "We are really worried about it.
"It will be a huge problem when it is closed at weekends but even worse if they close early during the evenings as well. That will be very bad for the restaurants and cafes.
"The timing of all the closures is also ridiculous. They have said 80 weekends which could be two years. For the businesses, it is terrible. Traders rely on the weekend trade to make money and shops will definitely close if this goes ahead. I would rather they did it over 160 weeks and only closed on Sunday - at least then shops would be able to survive."
The Northern line upgrade is due to start in March and the programme of closures is yet to be finalised by Tube Lines and TfL.
Tube Lines asked for 82 part- weekend closures and extended engineering hours north of Kennington from 11.30pm between Monday and Thursday. It says it needs these closures to finish the work on time.
TfL has given them the extended hours but only 16 partial weekend closures. Negotiations are ongoing.
Hampstead councillor Linda Chung said: "The closures are a huge worry for traders. It is concerning how neither TfL or London Underground or Tube Lines seem to comprehend the drastic effect this will have along the whole of the route.
"Unless there are extremely good public transport links which are regular and frequent, traders are going to suffer.
"People will not come to Hampstead and there will be no passing trade. We are spitting bullets about it."
A TfL spokeswoman said: "Work to upgrade the Northern line is critical to ensure that it has enough capacity to carry today's passengers and the expected increase in passengers in the future. The upgrade will deliver 20 per cent more capacity and reduce journey times.
"Although closures to the line are necessary to complete the work, we are urging Tube Lines to review its plans in order to reduce the impact on customers and local businesses.
"In the meantime, we are finalising our alternative travel options to ensure that customers can still travel during periods of closures.
"TfL will continue to communicate with customers and all key groups, including business groups, during the period of upgrade work.