King’s Cross in London is the tenth busiest railway station in Britain now. To be honest that surprised us a little at Raildiary as we know it forms the start and end point to link London and Edinburgh, along the densely populated East Coast line.
If you’re into statistics, you may also be wondering which is the busiest railway station in the UK - it’s Waterloo.
King’s Cross is one of those stations and areas of London that have reinvented themselves. If you’re of a certain age, you may recall Bob Hoskins in “Mona Lisa” which was largely set at King’s Cross with its dark underbelly of crime and prostitution under its arches.
All changed now though.
What’s interesting to us at Raildiary is how the rail network, signalling and tunnelling is going back in time. Not to the less than salubrious social aspects but to service tunnels that were built in 1977 and never used fully.
In fact 850 tons of spoil have had to be removed.
Let’s explain more.
It’s a mammoth project involving 1000 people. King’s Cross station and the area itself is densely packed with space at a premium for people and plant. As you can imagine the reopening of the Gasworks Tunnel has been a massive challenge. The tunnel has been used for decades as the railway equivalent of a spare room or junk drawer (be honest, you probably have one or both) and the climb in passenger numbers has seen a need for a clear-out.
There’s no doubt too that the Victorian history of the station has proved problematic; referred to as “drainage, cables, culverts or Victorian sewers” by Network Rail’s Rob Cairns.
As well as the physical upheaval, there is huge financial investment in the project - the £259 million King’s Cross remodelling project forms a key part of the wider £1.2 billion East Coast Upgrade (ECU).
What’s also interesting to us is that signalling is moving to York. In a further nod to the north, trains from Doncaster are expected to increase from 6 to 8 trains per hour as demand increases.
Who’d have thought that Doncaster would become a commuter town?
Raildiary are used to working on small to mammoth rail construction projects. King’s Cross could hardly be compared to the Ribblehead viaduct but each have their own logistical challenges.
What all rail construction projects have in common too in 2021 is the need for financial efficiency and fiscal accountability.
£259 million is a huge sum but given the location of the project, it is still a scheme that will require close monitoring of expenditure.
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Overall, the renovation of King's Cross station is an exciting development for the rail industry and a great example of the potential for progress and innovation in this important sector. By prioritizing sustainability, customer experience, and historical preservation, King's Cross is setting a new standard for railway stations around the world.