Charing Cross railway station

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This article is about the main line station in London. For the London Underground station, see Charing Cross tube station.
Charing Cross National Rail
London Charing Cross
Charingcross-eye s.jpg
Approach tracks across the River Thames
Charing Cross is located in Central London
Charing Cross
Charing Cross
Location of Charing Cross in Central London
Location Charing Cross
Local authority City of Westminster
Managed by Network Rail
Station code CHX
DfT category A
Number of platforms 6
Accessible Yes[1]
Fare zone 1
OSI Charing Cross tube station London Underground [2]
Embankment London Underground
Embankment Pier London River Services
Cycle parking No
Toilet facilities Yes
National Rail annual entry and exit
2011–12 Increase 38.114 million[4]
– interchange  1.959 million[4]
2012–13 Increase 38.607 million[4]
– interchange  Decrease 1.879 million[4]
2013–14 Increase 40.170 million[4]
– interchange  Increase 1.993 million[4]
2014–15 Increase 42.979 million[4]
2015–16 Decrease 28.998[3] million[4]
– interchange   0.828 million[4]
Railway companies
Original company South Eastern Railway
Pre-grouping South Eastern Railway
Post-grouping Southern Railway
Key dates
1864 (1864) Opened
Other information
Lists of stations
External links
WGS84 51°30′29″N 0°07′30″W / 51.508°N 0.125°W / 51.508; -0.125Coordinates: 51°30′29″N 0°07′30″W / 51.508°N 0.125°W / 51.508; -0.125
Underground sign at Westminster.jpg London Transport portal
170433 at Edinburgh Waverley.JPG UK Railways portal

Charing Cross railway station (also known as London Charing Cross)[5][6] is a central London railway terminus on the Strand in the City of Westminster. It is the terminus of the South Eastern Main Line to Dover. All trains are operated by Southeastern, which provides the majority of commuter and regional services to south-east London and Kent.

It is connected to Charing Cross tube station on the London Underground, and is near to Embankment tube station and Embankment Pier. It is one of 19 stations in the United Kingdom that are managed by Network Rail.[7] Charing Cross is the 14th busiest station in the country.[8]

Opened by the South Eastern Railway in 1864, the station takes its name from its proximity to the road junction Charing Cross, the notional "centre of London" from which distances from the city are measured. The tracks approach the station from Hungerford Bridge over the River Thames. There is an office and shopping complex above the station, known as Embankment Place.


Nearing completion in 1864, showing the pre-1905 arched roof
The front entrance of Charing Cross station in a 19th-century print. The Charing Cross is in front of the Charing Cross Hotel, now an Amba hotel.
A replica of the Eleanor Cross in Charing Cross station forecourt

The original station building was built on the site of the Hungerford Market by the South Eastern Railway and opened on 11 January 1864. The station was designed by Sir John Hawkshaw, with a single span wrought iron roof arching over the six platforms on its relatively cramped site. It is built on a brick arched viaduct, the level of the rails above the ground varying from 13 feet (4.0 m) at the north-east end to 27 feet (8.2 m) at the bridge abutment at the south-east end. A year later the Charing Cross Hotel, designed by Edward Middleton Barry, opened on 15 May 1865 and gave the station an ornate frontage in the French Renaissance style.

Eleanor Cross[edit]

The station in 1971
Charing Cross Hotel

Contemporary with the Charing Cross Hotel was a replica of the Eleanor Cross in Red Mansfield stone, also designed by Edward Middleton Barry, that was erected in the station forecourt. It was based on the original 13th-century Whitehall Cross that had been demolished in 1647. Distances in London are officially measured from the original site of the cross, now the statue of Charles I facing Whitehall, and not from this replica cross.

The condition of the cross deteriorated until it was in such a vulnerable condition that it was placed on the English Heritage At Risk Register in 2008. A ten-month project to repair and restore the cross was completed in August 2010. This work included recreating and attaching almost 100 missing ornamental features including heraldic shields, an angel, pinnacles, crockets and finials; securing weak or fractured masonry with stainless steel pins and rods and re-attaching decorative items which had previously been removed after becoming loose.[9]

1905 roof collapse[edit]

A 77-foot (23 m) length of the elegant original roof structure, comprising the two end bays at the south of the station, and part of the western wall collapsed at 3:45 pm on 5 December 1905. A gang of men were employed at the time in repairing, glazing and painting the section of roof which fell. Shortly after 3:30 pm, the roof emitted a loud noise, which was when someone noticed that one of the main tie rods had broken and was hanging down. Part of the roof began to sag and the western wall began to crack.

It was another 12 minutes before the collapse occurred, which enabled trains and platforms to be evacuated and incoming trains to be held back. The roof, girders and debris fell across four passenger trains standing in platforms 3, 4, 5 and 6, blocking all tracks were. The part of the western wall that fell had crashed through the wall and roof of the neighbouring Royal Avenue Theatre (now the Playhouse Theatre) in Northumberland Avenue, which was being reconstructed at the time. Six people died (two workmen on the roof, a W.H. Smith bookstall vendor and three workmen on the Royal Avenue Theatre site).[10]

At the Board Of Trade Inquiry into the accident, expert witnesses expressed doubts about the design of the roof, even though the cause of the failure was attributed to a faulty weld in a tie rod. Consequently, the South Eastern and Chatham Railway decided not to repair the roof but to replace it. An enormous travelling timber gantry had to be constructed to take the remainder of the station roof down safely. The replacement was a utilitarian post and girder structure supporting a ridge and furrow roof. The curve of the original roof design can still be seen on the interior brickwork. The station was re-opened on 19 March 1906.

Hastings express in 1957

Second World War[edit]

Following bomb damage in the Second World War, the hotel received extensive repairs in 1951, ten years after being bombed. In general, this consisted of a whole new set of top floors. The elaborate Mansard roof of the upper floors of the hotel was rebuilt in a plain neo-Georgian white brick.

Recent events[edit]

In 1990 most of the area over the British Rail platforms was covered by Embankment Place, a post-modern office and shopping complex designed by Terry Farrell and Partners. This development led to the replacement of almost the whole of the 1906 roof. The rear two spans of this structure – immediately adjacent to the existing concourse roof – were retained as part of an enlarged waiting area. In addition the original retaining side walls of the station which once supported it remain in near complete condition.[11] Most of the Embankment Place complex is currently occupied by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

In April 2014, the station held a celebration to mark the station's 150th anniversary which included a Kentish farmers market, staff in period costume, a guided walking tour and the unveiling of the new waiting room mural, produced by a local school.

Concourse in 2014


The station concourse before the Solari boards were replaced
Trains to and from Charing Cross go over Hungerford Bridge to cross the River Thames.

All trains call at Waterloo East and most call at London Bridge except for during peak hours, when trains from Charing Cross (AM) or to Charing Cross (PM) will not stop until the opening of London Bridge's new platform 6. The typical off-peak service is:

Services are formed using Southeastern's fleet of Class 375 and Class 376 Electrostars and older Class 465 and Class 466 Networker units.

Charing Cross station from the River Thames
Preceding station National Rail National Rail Following station
Terminus   Southeastern
South Eastern Main Line
  Waterloo East
Historical railways
Terminus   South Eastern Railway
South Eastern Main Line


Mainline railways around the South Bank
Charing Cross London Underground
Hungerford Bridge
over River Thames
Left arrow
South Western Main Line
to Weymouth
Waterloo London Underground London River Services
Waterloo East
Blackfriars Road (1864–1868)
London Underground Elephant & Castle (1)
(3) Blackfriars London Underground London River Services
Left arrow
to Sutton, Sevenoaks and Brighton
Right arrow
(1864–1885) Blackfriars Bridge (2)
(4) City Thameslink
Cannon Street London Underground
London River Services London Underground London Bridge
River Thames
Brighton Main Line
to Brighton
Down arrow
Down arrow
South Eastern main line
to SE London and Kent

Charing Cross is served by two London Underground stations, one at each end: Charing Cross, and Embankment. Charing Cross railway station is within walking distance. Embankment and Charing Cross have an Oyster Out of Station Interchange.

Originally Embankment was called Charing Cross, while the present Charing Cross was Trafalgar Square (Bakerloo line) and Strand (Northern line) stations, combining under the new name when connected by the new Jubilee line station in 1979. The change of name acknowledged that Strand and Trafalgar Square were closer to the station than Embankment. Note that additionally, for a short time, the stations were signed as "Charing Cross Embankment" and "Charing Cross Strand". The Jubilee line platforms are no longer served, following the 1999 extension of the line in which it was diverted to Westminster and onwards south of the River Thames.

Southern Crossrail Proposal[edit]

In late April 2016 there was a private proposal to reinstate the link from London Bridge to Waterloo.[12][13]


  1. ^ "London and South East" (PDF). National Rail. September 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 March 2009. 
  2. ^ "Out of Station Interchanges" (XLS). Transport for London. May 2011. Archived from the original on 20 October 2012. 
  3. ^ 5.689 million of this decrease was due to methodological changes. Without this change, the figure would have been 34.678 million.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Station usage estimates". Rail statistics. Office of Rail Regulation.  Please note: Some methodology may vary year on year.
  5. ^ "Stations Run by Network Rail". Network Rail. Retrieved 23 August 2009. 
  6. ^ "Station facilities for London Charing Cross". National Rail Enquiries. Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  7. ^ "Commercial information". Our Stations. London: Network Rail. April 2014. Retrieved 12 April 2014. 
  8. ^ "Revealed: Britain's busiest and quietest stations". BBC News. 2015-12-15. Retrieved 2016-02-05. 
  9. ^ "Eleanor Cross restored at Charing Cross station". 9 August 2010. Retrieved 13 December 2011. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ "London Charing Cross". Retrieved 13 December 2011. 
  12. ^ "New Southern Crossrail to make Guildford commuters lives easier". Eagle Radio News. 19 April 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2016. 
  13. ^ "London Waterloo £5bn revamp proposal suggests 'through' station link to London Bridge". getSurrey. 20 April 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2016. 

External links[edit]