London King's Cross railway station
|London King's Cross|
King's Cross station frontage following restoration, in 2014.
Location of King's Cross in Central London
|Local authority||London Borough of Camden|
|Managed by||Network Rail|
|Number of platforms||12 (numbered 0–11)|
|OSI||King's Cross St. Pancras
London St Pancras Int'l
London Euston 
|Cycle parking||Yes – platforms 0 & 1, 8, 9 and car park racks|
|National Rail annual entry and exit|
|– interchange||3.021 million|
|– interchange||3.583 million|
|– interchange||3.499 million|
|– interchange||3.736 million|
|– interchange||3.684 million|
|Original company||Great Northern Railway|
|Pre-grouping||Great Northern Railway|
|Post-grouping||London & North Eastern Railway|
|Lists of stations|
| London Transport portal
UK Railways portal
King's Cross railway station is a major London railway terminus which was opened in 1852 by the Great Northern Railway on the northern edge of central London. It is the southern terminus of the East Coast Main Line which provides high-speed inter-city services to Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland. Virgin Trains East Coast is the main inter-city operator with destinations including Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh. Other inter-city operators serving the station include Hull Trains and Grand Central. It is also the terminus for Great Northern commuter services to North London, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Norfolk.
Immediately to the west across Pancras Road is St Pancras International, the London terminus for Eurostar services to continental Europe. The stations both have access to King's Cross St. Pancras tube station on the London Underground network and form one of Britain's biggest transport hubs. The station is 820 yards (750 m) north-east of Euston, the southern terminus for the West Coast Main Line.
- 1 History
- 2 Other stations
- 3 Spelling
- 4 Services
- 5 Routes
- 6 Future
- 7 Tube station
- 8 Cultural references
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Great Northern Railway (1850–1923)
King's Cross was built in 1851–1852 as the London hub of the Great Northern Railway and terminus of the East Coast main line. It replaced a temporary station next to Maiden Lane (now York Way) that had been quickly constructed with the line's arrival in London in 1850.
The station took its name from the King's Cross area of London, named after a monument to King George IV that was demolished in 1845. Construction was on the site of a fever and smallpox hospital and it replaced a temporary terminus at Maiden Lane that had opened on 7 August 1850.
Plans for the station were first made in December 1848 under the direction of George Turnbull, resident engineer for construction of the first 20 miles (32 km) of the Great Northern Railway out of London. The detailed design was by Lewis Cubitt, the brother of both Thomas Cubitt (the architect of Bloomsbury, Belgravia and Osborne House), and of Sir William Cubitt (who was chief engineer of The Crystal Palace built in 1851, and consulting engineer to the Great Northern and South Eastern Railways). The design was based on two great arched train sheds, with a brick structure at the south end designed to reflect the main arches behind. The main feature of the original station was a 112-foot (34 m) high clock tower that held treble, tenor and bass bells, the latter weighing 1 ton 9 cwt (1.47 tonnes). In size, it was inspired by the 200 yards (180 m) long Moscow Riding Academy of 1825, leading to its built length of 268 yards (245 m).[a]
The main part of the station, which today includes platforms 1 to 8, was opened on 14 October 1852. Upon opening, it was the biggest station in England. The platforms have been reconfigured several times. Originally there was only one arrival and one departure platform (today's platforms 1 and 8 respectively), with the space between used for carriage sidings.
Suburban traffic quickly grew with the opening of stations at Holloway Road in 1856, Wood Green in 1859 and Seven Sisters Road (now Finsbury Park) in 1861. Midland Railway services ran from King's Cross on 1 February 1858. New platforms were added in 1862; No. 2 was full-length but No. 3 was stepped into the northern end of the station. In 1866, a connection was made via the Metropolitan Railway to the London, Chatham and Dover Railway at Farringdon, with goods and passenger services to South London via Herne Hill. A separate suburban station to the west of the main building, which is platforms 9-11 today and known initially as "Kings Cross Main Line (Local) Station", was opened in August 1875. This was followed by a connection to the Metropolitan Line on 1 February 1878. Two new platforms (now 5 and 6) were opened on 18 December 1893 to cater for increased traffic demands. A new iron footbridge was built halfway down which connected all the platforms together. By 1880, half of the traffic at King's Cross was for suburban services.
A significant bottleneck in the early years of operations was the Gas Works tunnel underneath the Regent's Canal immediately to the north, which was built with a single up and down track. Commercial traffic was further impeded by having to cross over on-level running lines in order to reach the goods yard. Grade separation of goods traffic was achieved by constructing a skew bridge, opening in August 1877, while a second and third Gas Works tunnel opened in 1878 and 1892 respectively. A further problem was with bad weather, which caused flooding in the tunnels. One such incident in July 1901 suspended all traffic from King's Cross for over four hours, which happened at no other London terminus.
King's Cross was fortunate to sustain no damage during World War I, particularly as large amounts of high explosives were carried to the station in passenger trains during this time. Where possible, trains were parked in tunnels in the event of enemy aircraft.
London and North Eastern Railway (1923–1948)
Kings Cross came under ownership of the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) following the Railways Act 1921. The LNER made improvements to various amenities around the station, including new toilets and dressing rooms underneath what is now platform 8. The lines through the Gas Works tunnel were remodeled between 1922–4 with signal improvements, to make it easier to manage the increasing number of local trains.
A number of famous trains have been associated with King's Cross, such as the Flying Scotsman service to Edinburgh, and the Gresley A3 and later streamlined A4 Pacific steam locomotives, which handled express services from the 1930s until 1966. The most famous of these was Mallard, which still holds the world speed record for steam locomotives at 126 miles per hour (203 km/h), set in 1938.
King's Cross saw heavy patronage during World War II, handling large amounts of troops alongside civilian traffic. Engine shortages meant that up to 2,000 people could be accommodated on each train. In the early hours of Sunday 11 May 1941, two 1,000 pounds (450 kg) bombs fell on the west side of the station, destroying the general offices, booking hall and a bar, and blowing out a large section of roof. Twelve people were killed; the death total would have been higher if the blast had occurred at another day and time.
British Rail (1948–96)
Diesel services began to increase during the 1950s, with steam being phased out. All mainline services had converted to diesel by June 1963. Platform numbers were reorganised in 1972, to run consecutively from 1 (east) to 14 (west). The track layout was simplified in the 1970s by reusing an old flyover for freight near the Copenhagen Tunnels at Holloway, and reducing the number of running lanes through the Gas Works Tunnels from six to four. A 25kV overhead line was installed at the same time to cater for suburban services. The works were completed on 3 April 1977. Electric services began running from King's Cross to Hertford, Welwyn and Royston; one of the few service improvements made in the area under the late 1970s Labour government.
The construction of the Victoria Line, which included an interchange at King's Cross, was seen as an opportunity to modernise the station. In 1972, a single-storey extension designed in-house by British Rail was built on to the front of the station to contain the main passenger concourse and ticket office. Although intended to be temporary, it still stood 40 years later, obscuring the Grade I-listed façade of the original station. Before the extension was built, the façade was hidden behind a small terrace of shops. The extension was demolished in late 2012, revealing once again the Lewis Cubitt architecture. In its place, the 75,000 sq ft King's Cross Square was created, which was opened to the public on 26 September 2013.
On 10 September 1973, a Provisional IRA bomb exploded in the booking hall at 12.24, causing extensive damage and injuring six people, some seriously. The 3 lb (1.4 kg) device was thrown without warning by a youth who escaped into the crowd and was not caught.
King's Cross was a major terminus for the InterCity 125 high speed services. By 1982, almost all long-distances trains leaving the station were 125s. The service proved to be popular, and the station saw regular queues across the concourse to board departing trains.
The King's Cross fire of 1987 started in a machine room for a wooden escalator between the King's Cross mainline station and the London Underground station's Piccadilly line platforms. Eventually, the entire escalator burnt up, and much of the tube station caught fire (with smoke spreading to the mainline station), ultimately killing 31 people.
In 1987, British Rail proposed a new station under King's Cross, with four platforms for international trains through the Channel Tunnel, and four for Thameslink trains, with some commuter trains to be diverted to St Pancras. After six years of design work, the plans were abandoned, and a new international terminal was constructed at St Pancras instead.
Privatisation (1996 – present)
Following the Privitisation of British Rail in 1996, express services into the station were taken over by GNER. The company refurbished the existing British Rail Mark 4 "Mallard" rolling stock, used for long-distances services from King's Cross, and the inauguration of the new-look trains took place with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in 2003.
Though it successfully re-bid for the franchise in 2005, it was asked to surrender it in December 2006. National Express East Coast took over the franchise on 9 December 2007 after an interim period when GNER ran trains under a management contract. In July 2009, it was announced that National Express was no longer willing to finance the East Coast subsidiary and the franchise was taken back into public ownership, handing over to East Coast in November 2009.
Before privatization, King's Cross had a notorious reputation for housing a number of run-down buildings and questionable businesses including prostitution services in front of the main entrance. A major clean-up scheme took place during the 1990s, and the station's atmosphere was much improved by the end of the decade.
In 2005, a £500 million restoration plan was announced by Network Rail; it was approved by Camden London Borough Council two years later. The plan included a restoration and reglazing of the original arched roof and the removal of the 1972 extension, to be replaced by an open-air plaza, scheduled for completion in 2013.
A new semi-circular departures concourse opened to the public in March 2012 to the west of the station behind the Great Northern Hotel. Designed by John McAslan and built by Vinci, it is intended to cater for much-increased passenger flows and provide greater integration between the intercity, suburban and underground sections of the station. The architect claims that the roof is the longest single-span station structure in Europe and the semi-circular building has a radius of 59 yards (54 m) and over 2,000 triangular roof panels, half of which are glass.
The land between and behind the two stations is being redeveloped with around 2,000 new homes, 5,000,000 sq ft (464,500 m2) of offices and new roads as King's Cross Central. As part of this restoration programme, refurbished offices have opened on the east side of the station to replace the ones lost on the west side, and a new platform 0 opened underneath them on 20 May 2010. Diesel trains cannot normally use this platform for environmental reasons. The restoration project was awarded a European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award in 2013.
Accidents and incidents
- On 18 August 1855, a passenger train collided with the buffer stops.
- On 30 May 1860, an excursion train collided with the buffer stops. About fourteen people were injured.
- On 2 November 1865, a coal train became divided at the station. The rear portion ran back and ran through the buffer stops. One person was injured.
- On 30 October 1873, a passenger train stalled on leaving the station and ran back. The following passenger train collided with it. Several people were injured, one seriously.
- On 22 March 1875, a passenger train was derailed entering Gasworks Tunnel. Some passengers were injured.
- On 8 January 1878, a freight train became divided. The rear portion ran back and was in collision with a passenger train. Three people were severely injured.
- On 9 April 1881, a passenger train was in a rear-end collision with an empty stock train in Gasworks Tunnel. One person was injured.
- On 15 September 1881, a light engine and a coal train were in collision near the mouth of Copenhagen Tunnel due to a signalman's error. One person was killed and one was severely injured.
- On 8 November 1884, an empty stock train collided with a rake of carriages. One person was injured. The driver claimed brake failure as the cause.
- On 30 June 1885, a freight train and a passenger train were in collision at the mouth of Gasworks Tunnel. No injuries were reported.
- On 23 December 1893, a passenger train ran into an empty stock train on leaving the station due to a signalman's error. Two people were injured.
- On 22 July 1896, a passenger train was derailed when leaving the station. One carriage overturned. Twenty people were injured; two people suffered broken arms.
- On 10 March 1897, an excursion train collided with the buffer stops. Twelve people were injured.
- On 4 February 1945, a passenger train to Leeds and Bradford stalled in Gasworks Tunnel, ran back and was derailed in the station. Two people were killed and 25 were injured. Services were not fully restored to the station until 23 February.
- On 16 September 2003, a passenger train was derailed due to a signalman's error, compounded by a maintenance error. There were no injuries.
- On 17 September 2015, the 12:18 arrival from Cambridge collided with the buffer stops at platform 11 at a speed of 7.5 miles per hour (12.1 km/h). The train was operated by Class 317 electric multiple unit No. 317 346. Fourteen passengers were injured.
King's Cross York Road
From 1863, part of King's Cross was an intermediate station. On the extreme east of the site was King's Cross York Road, with suburban trains from Finsbury Park calling here, then using the sharply curved, and sharply graded York Road Tunnel to join the City Widened Lines to Farringdon, Barbican and Moorgate. In the other direction, trains from Moorgate came off the Widened Lines via the Hotel Curve, with platform 16 (latterly renumbered 14) rising to the main-line level. Services to and from Moorgate were diverted via the Northern City Line from November 1976. The station remained in occasional use until completely closed on 5 March 1977.
Great Northern Cemetery Station
Started in 1855 and opened in 1861 just north of the main station on the Islington side, was constructed a facility for taking coffins and mourners away from the city to the burial grounds at New Southgate Cemetery. This was similar in function to the London Necropolis railway station which was adjacent to Waterloo station in the south but was intended to be a cheaper, more affordable service. The station was at the road level, with coffins lowered by hydraulic lift to the railway level. It never made a profit and was closed in 1873 after just twelve years in operation.[better source needed]
King's Cross is seen spelt both with and without an apostrophe:
- King's Cross is used in signage at the Network Rail and London Underground stations, on the tube map and on the official Network Rail webpage. It has been used on official maps from Underground companies since 1951 – the apostrophe was used on them only very rarely before 1951.
- Kings Cross is used in the National Rail timetable database and other National Rail railway pages, and on the thetrainline.com online booking system.
- Kings X, Kings + and London KX are abbreviations used in space-limited contexts.
- KGX is the station code.
Great Northern Route
|Hull Trains Route|
|Grand Central routes|
The station serves inter city routes to the East of England, Yorkshire, North East England and eastern and northern Scotland, connecting to major cities and towns such as Cambridge, Peterborough, Hull, Doncaster, Leeds, York, Sunderland, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bradford, Aberdeen and Inverness.
Four train services operate from King's Cross:
Virgin Trains East Coast operates high speed inter-city services along the East Coast Main Line. Basic off-peak timetable includes:
- Half hourly service to Leeds
- 1 train per hour departing at xx:05 calling at Peterborough, Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate
- 1 train per hour departing at xx:35 calling at Stevenage, Grantham, Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate
- 1 service extended daily to Bradford Forster Square
- 1 service extended daily to Skipton
- 1 service extended daily to Harrogate
- Hourly semi-fast service to Newcastle Central departing at xx:30 (extended to Edinburgh every two hours) calling at Peterborough, Newark North Gate, Doncaster, York, Northallerton, Darlington and Durham
- Hourly express service to Edinburgh Waverley departing at xx:00 calling at York, Darlington, Newcastle Central and Berwick-upon-Tweed.
- Two-hourly service to Newark North Gate/York calling at all stations on route.
- 1 service extended daily to Newcastle
- 1 service extended daily to Lincoln
- 2 services per hour to Peterborough (1 semi-fast, 1 stopping)
- 1 service per hour non-stop to Cambridge
- 1 service per hour to King's Lynn
- 2 slow services per hour to Cambridge (1 semi-fast, 1 stopping)
Hull Trains operates daily inter-city services to Hull and a limited weekday service to Beverley via the East Coast Main Line. Unlike the other train companies in FirstGroup, Hull Trains operates under an open-access arrangement and is not a franchised train operating company.
Grand Central operates inter-city services to Bradford and Sunderland along the East Coast Main Line and is an open-access operator. On 23 May 2010 it began services to Bradford Interchange via Halifax, Brighouse, Mirfield, Wakefield, Pontefract and Doncaster which had originally been due to begin in December 2009.
|Preceding station||National Rail||Following station|
|Terminus||Virgin Trains East Coast
|Terminus||Virgin Trains East Coast
The Flying Scotsman
|Terminus||Virgin Trains East Coast
|Terminus||Virgin Trains East Coast
|Terminus||Virgin Trains East Coast
|Terminus||Virgin Trains East Coast
One train a day
Cambridge Cruiser and
Finsbury Park or
Letchworth Garden City or
|Finsbury Park or
St. Neots or
Northern City Line
(Nights and Weekends only)
|Finsbury Park||British Rail
City Widened Lines
via King's Cross York Road
|Terminus||Great Northern Railway
East Coast Main Line
Line open, station closed
In May 2016 ORR approved a new operator called East Coast Trains which would operate services to Edinburgh Waverley via Stevenage, Newcastle & Morpeth. The service would begin operation in 2021.
King's Cross St Pancras tube station is served by more lines than any other station on the London Underground, and is one of the busiest. It is in Travelcard Zone 1.
|Preceding station||London Underground||Following station|
towards Edgware Road
|Hammersmith & City line||
towards Walthamstow Central
Boudica and King's Cross
The area of King's Cross was previously a village known as Battle Bridge which was an ancient crossing of the River Fleet, originally known as Broad Ford, later Bradford Bridge. The river flowed along what is now the west side of Pancras Road until it was rerouted underground in 1825. The name "Battle Bridge" is linked to tradition that this was the site of a major battle between the Romans and the British Iceni tribe led by Boudica, Britain's Warrior Queen. Boudica's legendary fame during the Victorian era, when Queen Victoria was portrayed as her namesake.
According to folklore, King's Cross is the site of Boudica's final battle and some sources say she is buried under one of the platforms. Platforms 9 and 10 have been suggested as possible sites. There are also passages under the station that her ghost is reputed to haunt.
King's Cross station is a square on the British Monopoly board. The other three stations in the game are Marylebone, Fenchurch Street and Liverpool Street, and all four were LNER termini at the time the game was being designed for the British market in the mid-1930s.
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The station, its surrounding streets and the railway approach feature prominently in the 1955 Ealing comedy film The Ladykillers. In the story, a gang robs a security van near the station and Mrs Wilberforce, an elderly widow in a house overlooking the railway, unwittingly assists them in moving the proceeds through the station. Members of the gang fall out with each other and one by one they all fall or are dropped into passing goods wagons from the parapet of the Copenhagen Tunnel a mile to the north of the station.
King's Cross features in the Harry Potter books, by J. K. Rowling, as the starting point of the Hogwarts Express to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The train uses a secret platform 9¾ accessed through the brick wall barrier between platforms 9 and 10.
Platforms 9 and 10 are in a separate building from the main station, and they are separated by two intervening tracks. Rowling intended the location to be in the main part of the station, but she misremembered the platform numbering. In a 2001 interview, she indicated that she had confused King's Cross with Euston, but platforms 9 and 10 at Euston are also separated by two tracks.
Within King's Cross, a cast-iron "Platform 9¾" plaque was erected in 1999, initially in a passageway connecting the main station to the platform 9-11 annexe. Part of a luggage trolley was installed below the sign: the near end of the trolley was visible, but the rest had disappeared into the wall. The location quickly became a popular tourist spot amongst Harry Potter fans. Crowding problems in the passage after the release of the first movie resulted in the trolley being removed and the plaque being relocated in 2002 to a bricked up entryway to platform 9 on the exterior wall of the station annexe. A new trolley was added to the new location in 2003. The sign and a revamped trolley, complete with luggage and bird cage, were relocated again in 2012, following the development of the new concourse building.
"King's Cross" is the title of Chapter 35 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which is set in a dream location resembling the station. The station also features in the epilogue of the book, making it the final setting of the Harry Potter series. The real station appears in the film adaptation of both scenes.
- The station is mentioned as suggesting "infinity" to Margaret Schlegel and contrasted with the "facile splendours" of St Pancras in Chapter 2 of E.M. Forster's novel Howards End.
- In Alfred Hitchcock's 1935 film The 39 Steps the inncocent hero has to flee pursuers in London by boarding the Flying Scotsman train to Scotland at King's Cross.
- The twelfth and final episode of the anime Victorian Romance Emma prominently features King's Cross in 1885 with great historical accuracy and detail.
- Scenes from the 1995 Bollywood film Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) were filmed here.
- There is an underground station called King's Cross on the North London System in the 1980 novel The Horn of Mortal Danger. It corresponds to this station rather than the tube station.
- In the Rev. W.V. Awdry's Railway Series of children's books, Gordon, Duck and an engine from "the Other Railway" have a lengthy argument about the name of the London station (apparently not realising that there is more than one railway station in London). Gordon says it's called King's Cross, but Duck insists that the name is Paddington (because he worked for the GWR) and the visiting engine believes it to be Euston. Desperate to prove himself right, Gordon tries to go to London himself and finally succeeds. However, on his return from St Pancras he laments that his destination was "all wrong."
- In the 1933 film Friday the Thirteenth, King's Cross is the used location to introduce two of the main characters. The name of the station is emphasised in the dialogue.
- The station is featured in the 1981 film Chariots of Fire when Eric Liddell comes to London for his race against Harold Abrahams in 1923.
In popular music
- The Pet Shop Boys released a song entitled "King's Cross" on the 1987 album Actually. The station was extensively filmed in for the Pet Shop Boys feature film released in 1988, It Couldn't Happen Here.
- In their music video "Rent" (1987), King's Cross is used extensively as a backdrop. The concourse is the meeting point for Chris Lowe and Margi Clarke playing characters who are reunited in front of the departures and arrivals board. In the background are notices stating that engineering work will disrupt services, which at the time (1987) was in progress to modernise the line. Parked outside in the taxi rank is Neil Tennant, playing Margi Clarke's taxi driver.
- The song "Who Was That Man" on Nick Lowe's 1991 album Party of One refers to an unidentified victim of the King's Cross Fire.
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- Jackson 1984, p. 79.
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- "Railway accident at King's Cross" (5882). Sheffield: Sheffield and Rotherham Independent. 23 March 1875. p. 7.
- "Shocking railway collision". Dundee Courier and Argus (7633). 9 January 1878. p. 4.
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- Jackson 1984, p. 348.
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- Christopher, John (2013). King's Cross Station Through Time. Amberley Publishing Limited. ISBN 978-1-445-62359-7.
- Gourvish, Terry; Anson, Mike (2004). British Rail 1974 – 1997 : From Integration to Privatisation. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19926-909-9.
- Jackson, Alan A. (1984) . London's Termini. London: David & Charles. ISBN 0-330-02747-6.
- Moore, Tim (2003). Do Not Pass Go. Vintage. ISBN 978-0-099-43386-6.
- Sharpe, Brian (2009). The Flying Scotsman: The Legend Lives on. Casemate Publishers. ISBN 978-1-845-63090-4.
- Simmons, Jack; Biddle, Gordon (1997). The Oxford Companion to British Railway History. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-019-211697-0.
- Weinreb, Ben; Hibbert, Christopher; Keay, Julia; Keay, John (2010). The London Encyclopedia. Pan MacMillan. ISBN 978-1-4050-4924-5.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to London King's Cross railway station.|
- History of Kings Cross, at the LNER Encyclopedia
- Pictures of the new concourse opened in March 2012 (London Evening Standard website)