King's Cross St. Pancras Station
It's big, it's bad, it's ugly, it carries *far* too many lines; yes, it's the snappily named King's Cross St Pancras Station.
It is actually two adjacent mainline stations served by a single tube station.
If Britain were a person sitting, Cornwall their legs, Scotland their head, and Wales their arms and lap, the lines running from Kings Cross would be the spine of Britain. The longest stretch to Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen, and are the main route into London for much of the East of England, for Cambridge, Lincolnshire, much of Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear, Northumberland and Eastern Scotland. The main line is known as the East Coast Main Line (ECML) and is electrified and fast. It follows the route of the [A1]? which itself follows the route of a network of iron-age drove tracks which became known from the early times as the Great North Road, long before cars, in the era of wagons and coaching inns. It's hard to overestimate the importance of this route, road and rail combined, in terms of the connectedness of London to the rest of Britain. ECML services are operated by GNER.
More local services follow the route of the ECML for a varying distances, services to King's Lynn, Cambridge, Stevenage, Peterborough, Huntingdon, Hatfield, and so on. These are generally operated by WAGN, and are less fast, though are in general electric and well regarded. The Kings Cross part of the station is itself divided into two. The older part contains platforms one to eight, generally containing the GNER trains for the ECML, and a shed to which the station is partially connected containing platforms nine to eleven, containing mainly the local WAGN services. The companies share platform eight (although WAGN services sometimes use platforms one to seven too); platform eight is also the location of the toilets and the means of accessing platforms nine to eleven, and there is also a persistent and widespread (though surely untrue and unverifiable) myth that Queen Boudiccea is buried under Platform Eight.
The station has a wall of remembrance for the companies employees who fell in the two world wars on the left of the main concourse. A few years ago ensporulated anthrax was found in the roof when the old (straw based) insulating material was replaced with newer materials. The anthrax was of natural origin and had come in on the straw at construction and was dormant or dead and harmless.
St Pancras station is adjacent to Kings Cross and is served by the same tube station. It serves intercity services operated by Midland Mainline. If the train lineslines fanning out of London were a clock, Kings Cross's lines would leave between twelve and one, north and north-by-north-east, whereas the one (busy) line from St Pancras would leave at around eleven o'clock. Only a ten minute walk along the road which bears these two stations, [Euston Road]?, is Euston Station which serves stations yet more westerly, between nine and ten o'clock. At the end of Euston Road, another forty minutes walk away is Paddington which handles the Thames Valley and the West Country.
St Pancras, however, serves as the London terminus for the old Midland Railway. Funded by the promise of transporting the Midland's famous Burton beers to London, St Pancras Station sits on a grand platform which was actually originally a large beer store. The internal iron girders which hold the station in its commanding position on its plinth were placed exact multiples of Burton barrels apart.
The railway which initially only incidentally carried passengers now serves the cities of the East Midlands, and northern Home counties, Luton, Bedford, Kettering, Northampton, Derby, Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, Sheffield, with reasonably reliable and reasonably fast diesel expresses which stop early in the night and resume late in the morning, particularly at weekends. The railway stretches not nearly so far as the ECML of Kings Cross, terminating in a flurry of connecitng lines in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire, about level with the Humber. Inside the station is a simple single shed of six to eight platforms.
However, what St Pancras lacks in terms of transport performance, it wins in grandeur. Once a railway hotel and headquareters, the beautiful Victorian brick building, built in a neogothic style, is truely one of the most breathtaking sights of architectural North London. Sitting on its brick plinth, the station could be a city hall or palace. There is a near replica of the station in Mumbai (Bombay, as was) known as Victoria Terminus where it is regarded as the Raj's architectural piece de resistance.
If you wait in St Pancras, (which is generally cold and lacks facilities, go to Kings Cross over the road), it's worth looknig in the ticket hall at the tops of the pillars, which show the trades of engine building carved where you might expect to see angels or gargoyles. At Victoria Terminus in Mumbai, these are replaced by tigers and elephants.
From 2007 St Pancras will become home of the new Channel Tunnel Rail Link, and a new St Pancras International station is being constructed as a modern extension to the existing station shed, to hold the 400m Eurostar trains. There will then be 4 MML platforms, a number of international platforms, and 3 CTRL Domestic platforms serving Kent.
King's Cross Thameslink
|north||Kentish Town||King's Cross Thameslink||Farringdon||south|
King's Cross Thameslink is a separate station with its own street-level entrance, though it is connected to the Piccadilly Line platforms of the main station via a tunnel. This is a far smaller station than the main King's Cross, and not always equal to the commuter loads placed on it.
King's Cross Thameslink will be replaced from 2007 with the new St. Pancras Midland Road (hopefully the name will be changed before then) station currently under construction as part of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link project, in order to cope with increased load expected to be placed on the station. Midland Road will be much better-integrated into the main station complex (especially the tube station).
King's Cross St. Pancras Underground
|Northern Line:||north||Euston||King's Cross St. Pancras||Angel||south|
|Piccadilly Line:||west||Russell Square||King's Cross St. Pancras||Caledonian Road||east|
|Victoria Line:||south||Euston||King's Cross St. Pancras||Highbury & Islington||north|
|Metropolitan Line:||west||Euston Square||King's Cross St. Pancras||Farringdon||east|