diamond geezer

 Wednesday, January 03, 2018

London Bridge station reopened yesterday.
Specifically a large part of it reopened yesterday.
Specifically a large part of it partially reopened yesterday.
Whatever, it's a damned impressive achievement all the same.

Redevelopment kicked off in 2013, following a previous upgrade to revamp the western end of the station around the foot of the Shard. Various sets of platforms were closed off sequentially, and trains to various destinations ran through without stopping. Commuters had a hell of a time battling with congestion, diversions and reduced services. Businesses which had operated beneath the platforms were turfed out and the internal space remodelled. A large portion of the new concourse opened in August 2016, and if you've visited since then you'll have a very good idea of what the extended chunk looks like. But compare the new London Bridge to how it looked ten years ago and the place is virtually unrecognisable.

Previously London Bridge had 6 through platforms and 9 terminating platforms. It now has 9 through and 6 terminating, which has been one of the key drivers of the project. The Thameslink Programme requires up to 18 trains an hour to run through here to Blackfriars, St Pancras and beyond, a target due to be delivered in December next year. But the other key driver has been passenger numbers, and the new spacious layout will allow a lot more people to get to a lot more trains a lot more efficiently.

New London Bridge has a distinct upstairs and downstairs, intriguingly connected. Platforms 10 to 15 are best accessed from the existing ticket barriers upstairs, by the bus station, whereas platforms 1 to 9 can only be accessed from down below. Most of the interesting new stuff is down below, and it may take a while to get your bearings.

An enormous concourse now threads beneath all fifteen platforms, right the way through from Tooley Street to St Thomas Street. The largest part is inside the ticket barriers, creating a huge circulation space where you can wait for your train to be called, but alas not a great number of seats. Coffee shops and eateries are provided on both sides of the barriers, which is unusual, a bit more like how an airport is laid out.

The platforms are supported on concrete prongs and covered underneath by copious timber stripes. Whopping long escalators then rise up to the platform of your choice, but not always in the direction you want and you might be nudged to climb the stairs instead. Rest assured there are also lifts if required, freestanding in the gaps between the platform supports.

Departures are no longer announced over the loudspeaker system, there'd be too many of them, so be sure to keep an eye on the destination boards because you don't want to end up on the wrong platform. While I was present yesterday a change of platform was announced with three minutes to spare, and the only way across was all the way down and all the way back up again, which was quite a hike for those affected. If in doubt ask one of the platform dispatchers - there seemed to be a heck of a lot of them - but not one of the security staff - there seemed to be a lot of them too.

It's hard to reconcile the new streamlined platforms with what was here before. They wiggle off into the far distance, the Shard looming overhead, generally featureless to allow for swift boarding. If you walk right to the end there are emergency stairs descending deep into inaccessible parts of the station, which hopefully you'll never need to use. Platform 1 didn't actually exist previously, which just goes to show that a heck of a lot of reshaping has been going on.

If you arrive via the tube station you'll probably end up walking through the new Western Arcade - essentially the vaults underneath the old station now fully opened up for public use. Tim assures us they're triple-arched quadripartite vaults, which explains why they're so attractive, although the foot of each brick pier has been covered by a modern protective bulwark so they're not quite as attractive as they could have been.

Network Rail are very proud of their new progeny, and have high hopes you'll come visiting. In particular they're keen to create a "destination station", so are cramming in as many shopping and dining opportunities as possible. 82 separate retail units are shown on the official map, most of them not yet open, a goodly proportion of which line the Western Arcade. Alas somebody appears to have handed the marketing team a thesaurus to explain what's coming, and their alliterative overexcitability suggests the final collection won't quite match St Pancras.

It's not just the shops that aren't finished. Stainer Street, which used to run underneath the station in an oppressive arched tunnel, is being reimagined as a pedestrian walkway. By the summer you'll be able to walk through again without entering the station, which'll be novel. Platforms 4 and 5 are also due to be opened in May to serve Thameslink services, and will remain taped up until then. But once everything's up and running, and all those extra trains are calling, London Bridge will be a phenomenal improvement on what came before. If you want to buy a pastie and hop on a train to Hastings, there'll be nowhere better.

» Video from Geoff, getting a guided tour of the newly opened station
» 8 photos what I took yesterday

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
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