diamond geezer

 Monday, September 17, 2007

Stratford International

Stratford InternationalIn the middle of a vast featureless wilderness north of Stratford town centre there's a long glass box and a deep hole. The deep hole houses several parallel railway tracks, and is linked by tunnel to St Pancras at one end and Europe at the other. And the glass box is Stratford International station, from which it'll one day be possible to take a train to Paris or Brussels, One day. But not yet. For the time being this continental gateway stands structurally complete but entirely empty, awaiting fitting out and its first passengers. It's going to be a long wait.

As part of London Open House, a few select interested parties and transport geeks were afforded access to Stratford International station for a rare look around the site. We were probably the only scheduled visitors this site will have for the next couple of years, and we didn't even get anywhere near the platforms. When Eurostar services commence on the High Speed Rail Link on 14 November, they'll speed straight through Stratford at umpteen miles per hour without stopping. Nobody wants to slow down for a miserable East End commuter halt just seven minutes out of St Pancras, not when they could be halfway to the Thames crossing instead.

Stratford InternationalThe station's other main drawback is that there's currently no sensible way of accessing it by road. We got there in a rickety minibus via a lengthy detour round Clays Lane and along several dusty meandering tracks. The main dual carriageway passing the front of the station ends slap bang in the middle of the fenced-off Olympic Zone, so there's no admittance for taxis, cars or buses via this route. You can't walk to the station from anywhere either, not until they build a new footbridge over the platforms at the other Stratford station. There's absolutely nothing on the surrounding site for half a mile in any direction, apart from barren bulldozed scrubland, and it'll stay that way until the Stratford City development starts to cover the area with shops, offices and unaffordable housing. Even the DLR doesn't get this far until 2010. Come back then and Eurostar might have bothered to add Stratford International to their timetables. But don't hold your breath.

Our tour group was ushered inside the empty entrance hall to view the grand spaces in which international travel will eventually commence. It's very long, with one complete wall of glass, and you'll be glad to know that the clocks and toilets are already fully functional. We swept easily through the non-existent ticket barriers and passport control before emerging into another long gallery, this time for arrivals and departures. One day this space will be full of Starbucks and Tie Racks, but for now it's just as vacant as the rest of the building. Messages flash up on the departure board ("Welcome to Stratford International") ("No further services planned") for nobody to read. In one corner is the entrance to the "CIP Lounge" (there'll be no VIPs here, just Commercially Important Persons). And, at either end of the concourse, several long blocked-off staircases and escalators lead down to the platforms below.

Stratford InternationalThere are an awful lot of different railway tracks passing through Stratford - seven in total. The outermost tracks are for stopping Eurostar trains (and there won't be many of them). Next come the fast lines for non-stop international travel, followed by a pair of domestic platforms. Suburban services from London to Kent will (eventually) pass through this way, splitting at the new Ebbsfleet station to head for either Ashford or Canterbury. And finally, running down the centre of Stratford Box, there's a single track for trains bound for the new Eurostar depot at Temple Mills. Trains will be stopping in the local area, oh yes, but only so that the drivers and staff can get on and off. You won't be coming here any time soon, that's for sure.

My photos of the station (start here, or click in the text above)
Better photographs of the Stratford International visit (from IanVisits)
The official "Eurostar moves to St Pancras" blog (hello to one of my readers who's writing it)
Domestic Southeastern services from Kent (due December 2009)
Stratford International DLR (due mid-2010)
Stratford City (due Easter 2011)


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream