Kings Cross crazy lifts – the Londonist

Kctubelifts Matt at the Londonist is a long time friend of this website and former KX worker. I was delighted he gave me permission to re-run this astonishing diagram of the lifts at Kings Cross station.  I am often totally bewildered by the signage 'Regents Canal' and loads of people moan about the anti-human design of the station but this takes the biscuit.  A fine example of Network Rails alternate planning reality.  We can now add 'phantom lift B' to the oddities of Platforms 9 and 3/4, Platform 0 and the sheer madness of signing Regents Canal.  Here's the Londonist's take:

'Stumbling drunkenly through King’s Cross recently, we decided, for incoherent reasons, to take the lift rather than the escalator. We discovered a parallel world, with a network of lift shafts so complex they require their own stylised navigation chart.

With a bit of study, the chart is reasonably clear, given that it must describe nine separate systems communicating with four different levels. But where are lifts B and I? And what the Otis would happen if we took lift A up to Regent’s Canal?

The situation is likely to get even more complex when the new western concourse opens in about a year. So, any design tips for TfL to make their lift maps as legible as the Tube map? And are there any stations (Bank, perhaps?) where the elevators are even more fiendish?'

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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6 Responses to Kings Cross crazy lifts – the Londonist

  1. The lifts do have a life of their own and there is no explanation of where they are in relation to the exits. At least I never found it.

  2. A good game must be designed around this! Running around Kings Cross lifts promises so much fun. 🙂

  3. Ian says:

    I’m glad I am not the only one who has been bemused by signs to Regents Canal – what on earth does that mean, particularly to the lost hordes of out-of-towners you see wandering blankly around the maze of tunnels under Kings Cross? I guess it is a future sign meant to indicate the way to St Martins site, but is it really Regents Canal, such a dull name

  4. Paul Convery says:

    Quite right, below ground at Kings Cross/St Pancras is quite a labyrinth. But the post from Londonist has a telltale opening phrase “Stumbling drunkenly through King’s Cross recently”. Well, when stumbling drunkenly around most transport interchanges, the place is definitely going to be a bit challenging.

    But let’s be fair here. The interchange at KX/St P brings together 3 long distance rail routes, 4 commuter services and 6 underground lines. It’s now the largest and busiest transport hub anywhere in London (for which read “anywhere in Europe”). Considering the infrastructure has been built incrementally over the course of 140 years without any kind of rational planning until recently, it’s a pretty good result.

    And when the whole interchange is finished and sits properly in context of the whole Kings Cross Central development, signs to the Regents Canal are going to make quite a lot of sense because the canal will become a very distinctive orientation point.

    As for the lift diagram, I think it looks pretty intelligible to me. But then I’m not trying to understand it whilst pissed.

  5. stuart lambert says:

    Am I the only one who doesn’t find that diagram remotely confusing? A bunch of letters, each assigned to a specific exit or tube line. Seems sensible to me.

    And if anyone actually worries that a lift might take them into the canal, then may I humbly suggest that they might need help?!

  6. Elizabeth Blackaby says:

    Elizabeth Blackaby after using these lifts last night I found the diagrams unhelpful in the highest degree firstly how do you know which lift you are at in order to know what floor to press once you are in the lift please can someone explain them to me after all they are meant to be there for saftey rathere than taking luggage on the escalators please please can someone help, I was travelling from Euston to Kingscross

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