Should the Circle Line be replaced with a giant travelator?

A multi-lane travelator may be a viable alternative to the notoriously congested Circle Line on the London Underground.

WalkTheLineAn idea has been proposed by architect NBBJ which would see London’s Circle Line Tube trains scrapped and replaced by a series of travelators conveying passengers at various speeds.

The Circle Line carries 114 million people along 17 miles of track and can carry eight trains at once, travelling at up to 20 miles per hour.

NBBJ design director Christian Coop and architectural assistant James Pinkerton’s concept was inspired by a “moving sidewalk”, which was first proposed at the Paris Expo in 1900.

Increase your own speed to 15 mph

Commuters would join the travelator at 3mph and increase their speed by stepping onto an adjacent walkway, before reaching a top speed of 15 mph between stations.

By walking down the “fast lane” of the conveyor belt, passengers would increase their speed to more than that of the current Tube, according to Coop, who says that even by standing still in the fast lane the journey is more efficient than the current alternative as it involves no waiting time.

“Segments speed up and slow down”

While the journey is continuous, Coop says: “Each lane would be made up of a series of segments which speed up and slow down.”

This means that passengers could step off and on easily from a standstill when passing through a station.

“If there was ever a breakdown, repairs could be carried out on one section without disrupting the service,” says Coop.

Deploying and testing

While he concedes that “details would need to be ironed out” if the idea were to be taken any further, Coop says, “It’s proven technology, and it’s reliable and safe so it could be deployed and tested.”

He would welcome discussions with TfL, other transport networks or anyone else that might be able to help develop the idea.

Notting_Hill_Gate_Tube_Station 2Circle Line Rendered SectionDo you think this idea has legs? Or have the designers put their foot in it? Let us know in the comments section below.

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  • Martin Pemberton September 9, 2015 at 10:27 am

    Great idea. I proposed it to LUL back in 1990 when we were designing new tube stock but they just thought it was a joke. You can frequently look down a tunnel and see the next station which often seems nearer than the distance you have already walked to get down to the platform in the first place! I think a proper study on this would be very interesting.

  • Shane Williams September 9, 2015 at 10:39 am

    The circle line is really slow, sometimes it is faster to walk above ground so walking on the belts would be a good idea. The only concern is if someone fell over, what about people with children and people with difficulties? Can’t see it happening but a great idea.

  • Stewart Brown September 9, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    I love it!

  • Howard Jones September 9, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    An interesting concept, although not without problems arising from the varying lane speeds; particularly of an evening once last orders have been called!
    Large groups/elderly/young families might find it tricky, but then maybe a corresponding moving overhead rail could help people balance?
    Presumably we’d get fast-lane hoggers too 😉

  • Hannah Wardle September 11, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    I want a go!

  • Henry Bealby September 14, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    Two questions: “proven technology” – really? Just where at this level of sophistication? And, although it’s easy to imagine for the (small) station sections, just how would it feel to travel through the long tunnels and how expensive would it be to “upgrade” them for a pleasant passenger/traveller experience?

  • Martin Cartwright September 29, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    It would end up it being like a motorway and have people cutting you up 😉

  • Terry Read March 11, 2021 at 11:12 am

    You would not need 3 speeds and the money saved could provide extra safety staff to travel throughout the line people would get fitter by walking and certainly make people leave cars at home fantastic idea as i walk around london doing my work it would be even better lets move into the future otherwise where is the electric going to come from to provide for electric charging of cars in the city lets get rid of these heavy trains that we have to stand on anyway

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