Crossrail has recently got the go-ahead but it isn’t clear what it means for Kings Cross. The line will run like an East-West Thameslink – or a bit like the Paris RER. The City will stump up some of the cash – which is a welcome principle of the beneficiaries paying when they can afford it. The excellent alwaystouchout site says:
‘The core of the Crossrail scheme is the tunnel connecting the line into Paddington in the west to the lines out of Liverpool St in the east. Stations are proposed at Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, and Farringdon…..In the west…Crossrail will stop at all stations on the GWML out to Heathrow. These include Acton Main Line, Ealing Broadway, West Ealing, Hanwell, Southall and Hayes & Harlington.’
So by going one stop East from Kings Cross to Farringdon you could change onto a nice big train all the way to Heathrow (10 stops) or heading East to Stratford (3 stops) or Canary Wharf/Isle of Dogs (4 stops) (route map here). But it won’t be terribly quick to Heathrow as the 15 minute, overpriced Heathrow Express will continue to provide the fast service from Paddington. I’d guess about 40 minutes, which would be an improvement door to door on the current options. One of the criticisms of CrossRail was that is doesn’t come to Kings Cross/StPancras Intl. But I guess the tunnelling was too complex, given the challenges of the existing re-build.
It is hard to predict the precise effect of this route – in complex systems, such as London transport new capacity tends initially to reduce pressure in the system overall. Then, as people adjust to the new travel patterns the system tends to fill up again as the overall capacity of the network increases (see the Jubilee Line before and after its extension). At a rough guess, but I should be very interested in people’s views we might see the following:
- people going East-West-East will have a new alternative to the Circle/H’smith and City and Met lines along the top of Zone One and the Picadilly line to commute from the West to the City
- there will be a real alternative to the Picadilly Line for large numbers of people in transit via Heathrow – esp for tourists going to Russell Square area who can get off at Tottenham Court Road who will have more room for their luggage on a big train.
- it suddenly gets much easier to get to Isle of Dogs/Custom House (5 stops) from KX. City Airport is suddenly very attractive
- Farringdon will get very busy indeed as loads of people arriving at KX/StP use it to change for CrossRail to Heathrow or the City
- some Eurostar passengers and many commuters from Kent will get off at Stratford to get on CrossRail rather than come to StP/KX
Overall though any CrossRail reduction in overcrowding for people suffering on transport around Kings Cross will be barely perceptible. The hordes arriving on the Eurostar and Kent express service and the tens of thousands working in the Railway Lands will have completely rammed out the existing public transport systems long before CrossRail is operational in 2015. There was a competing proposal for something called Superlink (here) that would have added North/South capacity to relieve the Stanstead Express, the Cambridge line, Northampton/Milton Keynes route and Thameslink. This makes sense given the vast amounts of housing planned for the Northampton area and woudl probably have brought more relief to Kings Cross. But it never really got off the ground.
CrossRail has one of those irony-free corporate now on YouTube (I suspect made by the team
who produce the ‘best a man can get’ or ‘roller skating with dogs’ ads). Mind the reality gap everyone.