The ongoing conundrum of Whitechapel Station Ticket Office Closure

In my previous post I had concluded that I was unable to make my mind up about the relative merits of increasing physical accessibility against the potential loss of usability for some passengers. The whole thing is bugging me, as I like to have a bit of certainty. So I decided to think around the problem. I had concluded that there wasn’t any public announcement about the loss of the ticket hall.

I confess however, I was wrong; I admit my faults.

I like to promote the view I am generally right about something; that is until I decide I am right that I am wrong. I also like a good Sherlock Holmes reference. So, think of my first post as being an erroneous conclusion by Dr Watson and this to be (I hope) the masterly analysis of Holmes. The situation can be summarised neatly with a quote from ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’. ‘Watson’ writes:
“When I hear you give your reasons,” I remarked, “the thing always appears to me to be so ridiculously simple that I could easily do it myself, though at each successive instance of your reasoning, I am baffled until you explain your process. And yet I believe that my eyes are as good as yours.”
“Quite so,” he answered, lighting a cigarette, and throwing himself down into an armchair. “You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear. For example, you have frequently seen the steps which lead up from the hall to this room.”
“How often?”
“Well, some hundreds of times.”
“Then how many are there?”
“How many? I don’t know.”
“Quite so! You have not observed. And yet you have seen. That is just my point. Now, I know that there are seventeen steps, because I have both seen and observed.”

June 2010 CAD rendering
In my original post I saw a familiar blue band above a glass window by the ticket barrier and assumed it to be a ticket office. However, if you look more closely however, you can see that the window is actually the wrong side of the ticket barrier, suggesting it isn’t a ticket office. What is particularly confusing is the strip of glass coming from the left most barrier – it’s not clear why it’s there, but is suggestive of accessing the window. What’s interesting though is that this graphic was on the internet since at least 2010, as you can see from a June 2010 post on London Reconnections.
In my last post I said there wasn’t any public information on the station redesign. Now, I haven’t been able to find any official announcements, but I have been thinking laterally about this, and instead headed to Tower Hamlets’ planning application database, where I could examine what was officially submitted to see if I could compare and contrast.
May 2011 Rendering

In a planning application (PA/11/01215) submitted on May 16 2011 and approved 12 October 2011, there is a document called ‘Environmental Statement – Non technical summary. In that document is the second picture on the page. You’ll note the design is different note the style of the roof- not surprising, given a year had passed and this new picture was within the planning application. What is perhaps more surprising is the window with the blue above it…can I spy some words – yes, ‘tickets and assistance’. Now the ticket window is clearly accessible from people before accessing the ticket barrier. So, if TfL has removed the ticket office, it is only after re-introducing it.

Paragraph 5.8 delegated report

The delegated report by the planning officer certainly thinks that there would be a ticket office. It states that the ‘internal layout of the ticket halll will provide …the necessary ticket office and other back office facilities. A single gate line of 10 gates…has been allowed for’. So it was sufficiently noteworthy for inclusion in the description of the station.

Section of architectural plans 2011

This interpretation isn’t just based on a pretty drawing – the ticket office and even the ticket barriers are actually included on the architectural plans.

Similarly, the cross section of the station shows the  ticket office and barriers.

Cross section 2011 showing ticket office

So, if the ticket office has been sacrificed for a lift, where does the lift go from and to? What I find slightly odd is that the ticket office in the new station is/was proposed to be immediately above the westbound District/Hammersmith and City Line tracks, so the lift can’t be where the ticket office is, which suggests there may need to be a significant reworking of the station.

If the lift was installed closer to the station entrance, that would require a long deep lift shaft, with a very long tunnel, just for wheelchair users, which might not be the most cost effective approach. I’ve illustrated this on the cross sectional diagram in red.

Necessary lift shaft configurations
based on ticket office location
Additionally, the closer to the entrance the lift is, the closer to the entrance the ticket barriers need to be, as otherwise you could just pop in the lift and avoid paying. So either the lift won’t be where the ticket office is, but is displacing something else into its place or, there is something very odd going on.

One final note on this whole conundrum is that on the Crossrail site is that the page showing station designs dating from January 2013…shows the original 2010 design! I will see if TfL comes back on my queries and see if the riddle of Whitechapel Station can be solved.
UPDATE: TfL confirm the lift will connect to the district line platform, so will not be where the ticket office was proposed to be. There is still no news on providing revised plans to the public.
Screen grab of link to page with station designs
Screen grab of the link to the
Whitechapel Station designs

Close-up of proposed buildings 2011
2011 plan showing tunnels and shafts
Axiomatic drawing of tunnels and lines

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