Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

“There once was an ugly duckling…”

Posted in Customer service, Infrastructure, London by Chairman Pip on 10 August 2011

Of course, it is unfair to say that King’s Cross is an “ugly duckling”, given that the station is a beautiful italianate style building with a wonderful double span roof. It’s just that, as it stands, it is overshadowed by its next door neighbour, the gorgeous red-brick gothic revival edifice of St Pancras; the £1bn redevelopment of St Pancras is now complete and it stands open in all its neo-gothic glory, while King’s Cross waits for what might be described as its “nose job”. Indeed, such is the sight of the exterior of King’s Cross as it stands presently that, when the producers of the Harry Potter film series needed to shoot the station exterior, so unappealing did it appear that instead they used the exterior of St Pancras, no doubt leading a great many Harry Potter fans excitedly coming to London to go and see where the young hero gets on his train, only to be disappointed that the exterior they see on the screen isn’t the real exterior, and that owing to the author’s mistake, they can’t actually get to the famous Platform 9¾, as she got confused between King’s Cross and some other London terminus when she was writing the first book (for those unaware, Platform 9¾ is reached by running at the wall separating Platforms 9 and 10 – only at King’s Cross, Platforms 9 and 10 are separated by railway lines, rather than being an island platform). But I digress. The point is that King’s Cross is now half-way through a £500m redevelopment of its own, that will see the interior of the station thoroughly restored; the building of the new bigger concourse to provide better interchange with St Pancras; the renovation of the Great Northern Hotel; and, perhaps most notably, the demolition of the unsightly green facade that was put up in 1972 and which serves as the existing concourse. This will expose the original italianate facade of the building for the first time in many decades, and also allow the construction of a new pedestrian plaza at the front of the station, intended to be twice the size of Leicester Square. The primary intention of all of this is to improve the passenger experience at what could be described as London’s primary domestic railway station (given that it is the terminus of the East Coast Main Line). But, it will also give London’s domestic intercity rail services a gateway to the city that, while perhaps not as visually striking as the international gateway next door, is as awe inspiring.

King’s Cross Redevelopment – Network Rail

“King’s Cross square revealed”
“New Western Concourse at King’s Cross revealed”
“Western concourse increases King’s Cross capacity”

Once work is complete, King's Cross will complement St Pancras in terms of the grandeur they provide to domestic and international rail passengers travelling to and from London


2 Responses

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  1. Claire said, on 12 August 2011 at 6:07 am

    Twice the size of Leicester Square? That’ll be quite something! Should be good.

    • Chairman Pip said, on 12 August 2011 at 4:13 pm

      Well, it’s not just the square; the new concourse will be three times the size of the existing one, and on two levels too.

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