I was deeply concerned - as I know many local residents were - to hear of plans to close Balham station to outward passengers from next Monday until December 2021.
While I recognise the scheduled repairs to the escalator are essential works, it is important to me that residents are not inconvenienced by the planned updates. Indeed, I also appreciate that it was alarming for many to learn that the closure was to begin in less than a week, lasting for such an extended period of time.
It is my understanding that the decision to close Balham station to outward travelling passengers was taken after a trial closure of the downward escalator indicated that use of the staircase at peak travel times was resulting in over-crowding and therefore social distancing was difficult.
I called a meeting with Transport for London to outline my concerns and discuss alternatives, such as more staff at the station to support social distancing at peak travel times. I am pleased to announce that as a result of this meeting, TfL have agreed to undertake a week-long trial at Balham Station, which will see the staircase open for use throughout the day and outward travel therefore possible from the station.
The trial will commence on Monday 28th June and last 3-4 days. Following the trial, TfL will assess whether outward travel from Balham during the planned escalator repairs is viable.
During this time - and beyond should the trial prove successful - I would recommend additional time is allowed for travel through Balham Station. By doing so, we increase the likelihood of a successful trial. More importantly, we can all play our part to ensure all residents can travel safely.
Please check back for further updates on this situation.