Northern Ticket hall – making a difference?

Kings cross square west Britain's most expensive hole in the ground is probably the £300million northern ticket hall under the road between St Pancras and Kings Cross.  Alternate exits for Kings Cross underground first came up in the Fennell Report  into the appalling 1988 fire, the new ticket hall was finally opened at the end of last year only 21 years later.

It was a very complex job and the delaying in commissioning it let to costs spiralling (the more work was done around it the more compelx the project became – a bit like digging a cellar while you are building the house instead of before it – the latter will always be cheaper).  The engineers managed to dig a big hole without hitting a gas main or either St Pancras or Kings Cross falling into it – this article gives an insight into the complexity.

But now the northern ticket hall is open does it work? I waited until the hall had been open for a while and traffic flows normalised,  went for a walk and took a video.  I thought it was working quite well at 0830 am (and I didn't get arrested under the Terrorism Act for taking pictures).

This site covered a fascinating angle to the flaws in St Pancras station (in the face of otherwise hagiographic press coverage).  A particular problem was the huge flows of people down the central concourse from the domestic services at the top of the station to the tube at the bottom.  The concourse wasn't wide enough. 

As the video shows, the northern ticket hall has now swallowed almost all those people – they enter the tube at the top of the station.  The central concourse is now a much more pleasant place.

Underground the tunnelling is impressively wide and capacious, reducing to the traditional tube claustrophobia-inducing widths only as you get close to the platforms.  The only downside seems to be the remarkably long walking distance underground to get to the tube – but it may just be an optical illusion.  I also hear that closures due to overcrowding in the mornings have eased up on Kings Cross Square.

What do people think – let us know through the comments.

About William Perrin

Active in Kings Cross London and South Oxfordshire, founder of Talk About Local, helping people find a voice online and a trustee of The Indigo Trust , Good Things Foundation and ThreeSixtyGiving as well as Connect8.
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1 Response to Northern Ticket hall – making a difference?

  1. Stephan Schulte says:

    Will,

    Please note the following comment that I received in relation to another posting. I think it was more related to the story above, so I am forwarding it so that it can be included. FYI, I have also forwarded it to Alastair Metcalf of Network Rail (alastair.metcalf@networkrail.co.uk)for his comment.

    Comment:
    I recently used Kings Cross Station to go to Leeds. There were long and unpleasant waits at the ticket hall (I know I should have bought online). To get off at Kings X from the Piccadilly line I took the lift which left me stranded miles away from the trains. After what seemed like a real hike I arrived at the train section – had to wait for the train and I was disappointed at the facilities available for customers. Just not enough variety for coffee and no room to sit down to wait for the train. Liverpool Street is a much better planned station with lots of facilities. Coming back from Leeds I could not find the taxi rank. Would someone please put up signs to the taxi rank. I think it is a difficult station to use especially for people with mobility problems.

    • Commenter name: Annette Albert

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