Published 5th February 2013
The London and Greenwich Railway was London’s first commuter railway and issued copper coin type tickets to its first season ticket holders when it opened in 1836.
Since then, Victorian railway company development at London Bridge created two adjacent stations but on different levels. The station was also heavily bombed in the last war adding to the chaotic layout. Todays 15 platforms at the station are used by an estimated 45-50 million passengers a year. Station traffic is forecast to suggest passenger numbers will grow to around 75 million in the future.
There are six high level through-platforms and nine low-level terminating -platforms encompassed within the Victorian trainshed. The trainshed will be demolished to allow nine through platforms and six terminating platforms when the project is complete in 2018.
Towering above London Bridge station is The Shard, which has been built with the station’s redevelopment in mind. This is part of the station’s redevelopment which will create the largest street level station concourse in Britain linking all 15 platforms.
The reconfiguration of the tracks and signals will create a smoother flow of trains as there will not be so many conflicting movements required around the station. The resignalling, Network Rail says, is the largest and most complex resignalling project it has ever tackled and all the work has to be carried out while trains continue to run.
At the moment, the station can accommodate 70 trains an hour but in six years time, this will increase to 88. Selective platform closures will be taking place from May onwards to allow the work to commence. Each one will have disabled access with escalators and lifts as well as stairs once the scheme is complete.
The first phase of platform redevelopment involves Platforms 14, 15 and 16 which will be taken out of use from May 2013. Some trains will be retimed and replatformed as a result. The revamped platforms will have undulating steel canopies with cantilever arms sweeping down to the platform edges.
The station is currently supported by Victorian brick arches, some of which will be replaced by hundreds of piles. These will have to avoid sub-surface constructions such as sewers and the underground by specific margins. Sewers have to be at least five feet away from the piles while the Jubilee Line underground tunnel must be at least 20 feet under the lowest part of the piles.
One of the consequences of this huge project is that Thameslink services will be diverted away from London Bridge station for four years from December 2014.
Charing Cross trains will not be able to call at London Bridge either, from 2015 for up to two years. Cannon Street services will not stop at London Bridge from 2016 for nearly two years.
Network Rail’s Robin Gisby said that This will be the moist ambitious redevelopment of any London station in a generation and one of the most technically demanding projects ever undertaken on our railway. The benefits will be massive for all.
London Bridge is currently an unconnected interchange with the Northern Line and a bus station with a lot of congestion. This will be resolved as part of the project and the first stages of this are now visible. A new temporary ticket office has been opened and a new bus station is being built nearby.
The nearby Borough Market has had a viaduct built over it and this will eventually carry trains to Charing Cross when the overall project is completed. Thameslink services will use the existing lines on the old viaduct and because the two service groups will no longer compete for track space, services will grow and become more reliable.
Twenty years ago, the area was in decline, the regeneration will be complete in six years with the railway at the heart of the area. The same will happen around HS2 stations, history does repeat itself. There were many Objectors to this London Bridge and Borough Market part of the Thameslink project but now the regeneration is providing local jobs. Objectors to HS2 take note!
Written by Phil Marsh