London King's cross

This article is about the National Rail station in London. For other uses, including stations, see King's Cross (disambiguation).

King's Cross
London King's Cross
King's Cross station frontage following restoration, in 2013.
King's Cross
King's Cross
Location of King's Cross in Central London
Location Kings Cross
Local authority London Borough of Camden
Managed by Network Rail
Owner Network Rail
Station code KGX
Number of platforms 12 (Numbered 0–11)
Fare zone 1
OSI King's Cross St. Pancras (London Underground)
London St Pancras Int'l (National Rail)
London Euston (National Rail) [1]

National Rail annual entry and exit
2007–08 Increase 23.945 million[2]
- interchange  Increase 2.684 million[2]
2008–09 Increase 24.641 million[2]
- interchange  Increase 2.703 million[2]
2009–10 Increase 24.818 million[2]
- interchange  Increase 2.786 million[2]
2010–11 Increase 26.255 million[2]
- interchange  Decrease 2.150 million[2]
2011-12 Increase 27.874 million[2]
- interchange  Increase 3.021 million[2]

1852 Opened

Lists of stations
External links
  • Departures
  • Layout
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  • Buses
  • London Transport portal
    UK Railways portalCoordinates: 51°31′51″N 0°07′24″W / 51.5309°N 0.1233°W / 51.5309; -0.1233

    King's Cross railway station[3][4] is a major London railway terminus, opened in 1852. It is on the northern edge of central London, at the junction of Euston Road and York Way, in the London Borough of Camden on the boundary with the London Borough of Islington. It is one of 17 UK stations managed by Network Rail.[5]

    King's Cross station is the southern terminus of the East Coast Main Line, one of Britain's major railway backbones. Some of its most important long-distance destinations are Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh. It also hosts outer-suburban services to Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire, and fast regional services to Peterborough, Cambridge and King's Lynn.

    Immediately to the west across Pancras Road is St Pancras International, the London terminus of the Midland Main Line, Eurostar and high-speed trains to Kent via High Speed 1, and a major interchange for Thameslink services between Bedford and Brighton. The two stations are operationally completely separate, but as they are adjacent, they are regarded as a single complex for interchange purposes. They share King's Cross St. Pancras tube station on the London Underground network, where six Underground lines meet. Taken together, the two main-line stations and the associated Underground station form one of Britain's biggest transport hubs. The station is also within walking distance of Euston, the southern terminus for the West Coast Main Line.


    King's Cross was built as the London hub of the Great Northern Railway and terminus of the East Coast main line. It took its name from the King's Cross area of London, named after a monument to King George IV that was demolished in 1845.[6]

    Plans for the station were first made in December 1848 under the direction of George Turnbull, resident engineer for construction of the first 20 miles (32 km) of the Great Northern Railway out of London.[7][8] The detailed design was by Lewis Cubitt, and construction was in 1851–1852 on the site of a fever and smallpox hospital. The main part of the station, which today includes platforms 1 to 8, was opened on 14 October 1852. It replaced a temporary terminus at Maiden Lane that had opened on 7 August 1850.[9]

    The platforms have been reconfigured several times. Originally there was only one arrival and one departure platform (today's platforms 1 and 8 respectively), with the space between used for carriage sidings. As suburban traffic grew additional platforms were added with considerably less grandeur. The suburban station building now containing platforms 9–11 is from that era.

    A new platform, numbered 0, was opened in 2010. To the east of platform 1, it created capacity for Network Rail to achieve a phased refurbishment of platforms 1–8 that includes new lifts to a new footbridge between the platforms. By 2013 the entire station will have been restored and transformed.[10]

    A number of famous trains have been associated with King's Cross, such as the Flying Scotsman service to Edinburgh, and the Gresley A3 and later streamlined A4 Pacific steam locomotives, which handled express services from the 1930s until the early 1960s. The most famous of these was the Mallard, which still holds the world speed record for steam locomotives (set in 1938).

    In 1972, a single-storey extension designed in-house by British Rail was built on to the front of the station to contain the main passenger concourse and ticket office. Although intended to be temporary, it still stood 40 years later, obscuring the Grade I-listed façade of the original station. Before the extension was built, the façade was hidden behind a small terrace of shops. The extension was demolished in late 2012,[11] revealing once again the Lewis Cubitt architecture. In its place, the 75,000 sq ft King's Cross Square was created, which was opened to the public on 26 September 2013.[12]

    On 10 September 1973, a Provisional IRA bomb exploded in the booking hall at 12.24, causing extensive damage and injuring six people, some seriously. The 3 lb (1.4 kg) device was thrown without warning by a youth who escaped into the crowd and was not caught.[13]

    The King's Cross fire of 1987, in which 31 people died, was at King's Cross St Pancras Underground station.[14]

    The station has changed ownership a number of times: firstly the Great Northern Railway (GNR) (1852–1923), then the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) (1923–1948), then following nationalisation British Railways (1948–1996), then upon privatisation Railtrack, then Network Rail.

    When the railways were privatised in 1996, express services into the station were taken over by GNER. Though it successfully re-bid for the franchise in 2005, it was asked to surrender it in December 2006. National Express East Coast took over the franchise on 9 December 2007 after an interim period when GNER ran trains under a management contract. In July 2009, it was announced that National Express was no longer willing to finance the East Coast subsidiary and the franchise was taken back into public ownership, handing over to East Coast in November 2009.

    King's Cross York Road

    Between 1863 and 1976, part of King's Cross was an intermediate station. On the extreme east of the site was King's Cross York Road, with suburban trains from Finsbury Park calling here, then using the sharply curved, and sharply graded York Road Tunnel to join the City Widened Lines to Farringdon, Barbican and Moorgate. In the other direction, trains from Moorgate came off the Widened Lines via the Hotel Curve, with platform 16 (latterly renumbered 14) rising to the main-line level. Services to and from Moorgate were diverted via the Northern City Line from August 1976.[15]


    In 2005, a £500 million restoration plan was announced by Network Rail; it was approved by Camden London Borough Council on 9 November 2007.[16] The plan includes a thorough restoration and reglazing of the arched roof of the original station and the removal of the cramped and congested 1972 extension, to be replaced by an open-air plaza, scheduled for completion in 2013.[17][18]

    A new semi-circular departures concourse, opened to the public on 19 March 2012,[19][20] has been built in the space directly to the west of the station behind the Great Northern Hotel, some outbuildings of which have been demolished. Designed by John McAslan and built by Vinci,[21] it is intended to cater for much-increased passenger flows and provide greater integration between the intercity, suburban and underground sections of the station, facilitating interchange between King's Cross and St Pancras. Departing passengers use the new concourse; arriving passengers initially exited the station from the old concourse on Euston Road, but now go through the new public square. The architect claims that the roof is the longest single-span station structure in Europe. The semi-circular building has a radius of 54 metres and over 2000 triangular roof panels, half of which are glass.[17]

    The land between and behind the two stations is being redeveloped with nearly 2,000 new homes, 486,280 m2 (5,234,000 sq ft) of offices and new roads as King's Cross Central.

    As part of this restoration programme, refurbished offices have opened on the east side of the station to replace the ones lost on the west side, and a new platform 0 opened underneath them on 20 May 2010. To prevent exhaust fumes from entering the ventilation system, no diesel trains are permitted to use this platform. The platform occupies the space of a former taxi rank, and was originally to be known as platform Y, but was renamed to avoid the confusion of having both lettered and numbered platforms. When the refurbishment is complete, all the platforms will be renumbered, the new one becoming platform 1.[22] Although there have been plans for a new platform for some time to increase capacity, it was the need to minimise disruption during restoration when other platforms would be temporarily out of use that led to this being built.


    The station serves routes from the north and east of England and from Scotland, connecting to cities such as Cambridge, Peterborough, Hull, Doncaster, Leeds, York, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness.

    Four companies run services into the main-line station:

    East Coast

    East Coast runs inter-city express services on the East Coast Main Line to Peterborough, Doncaster, Leeds, Wakefield, Lincoln, Hull, York, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle Central, Edinburgh Waverley, Glasgow Central, Dundee, Aberdeen, Perth and Inverness.[23] East Coast is the lead operator at the station.

    First Capital Connect

    First Capital Connect operates to Cambridge, Kings Lynn, and Peterborough. During peak hours and weekends, there are also suburban services to Welwyn Garden City, Hertford North, and Letchworth Garden City.[24]

    First Hull Trains

    First Hull Trains operates inter-city services to Hull via the East Coast Main Line. Unlike the other train companies in FirstGroup, First Hull Trains operates under an open-access arrangement and is not a franchised train operating company.

    Grand Central

    Grand Central operates inter-city services to North Yorkshire, County Durham and Sunderland along the East Coast Main Line and is an open-access operator. On 23 May 2010 it began services to Bradford Interchange via Halifax, Brighouse, Mirfield, Wakefield, Pontefract and Doncaster[25] which had originally been due to begin in December 2009.[26][27]

    Bus services

    London bus routes 10, 17, 30, 45, 46, 59, 63, 73, 91, 205, 214, 259, 390, 476 and night routes N63, N73 and N91 pass in front of or at the side of the station.


    Preceding station National Rail Following station
    Terminus style="background:#;" rowspan="2" |   First Hull Trains
    East Coast Main Line
    style="background:#;" rowspan="2" |   Stevenage
    First Hull Trains
    East Coast Main Line
    Terminus   East Coast
    East Coast Main Line
    or York
    Terminus style="background:#;" rowspan="2" |   Grand Central
    North Eastern
    style="background:#;" rowspan="2" |   York
    Grand Central
    West Riding
    Terminus style="background:#; border-top:solid 1px gray; " |   First Capital Connect
    Great Northern
    style="background:#;border-top:solid 1px gray; " |   Finsbury Park
    St. Neots
    Terminus style="background:#; border-top:solid 1px gray; " |   First Capital Connect
    Cambridge Cruiser
    style="background:#;border-top:solid 1px gray; " |   Cambridge
    Disused railways
    Finsbury Park   British Rail
    Eastern Region

    City Widened Lines
    via King's Cross York Road

    King's Cross St Pancras tube station

    King's Cross St Pancras tube station is served by more lines than any other station on the London Underground, and is one of the busiest. It is in Travelcard Zone 1.

    Major work is ongoing to link the various entrances to two new ticket halls and reduce overcrowding. Overcrowding has led to the closure of the entry and exit to the main ticket hall from inside King's Cross during weekday morning peak hours. At these times access to the tube station is via the new entrances outside King's Cross. Staff are placed at these entrances throughout the morning peak to implement crowd control and narrow or close the entrances. None of the other entrances to the tube station can be closed, being either inside St Pancras or too close to Euston Road to allow room for large crowds to wait.


    Preceding station   Underground no-text.svg London Underground   Following station
    towards Hammersmith
    Circle line
    towards Edgware Road
    towards Hammersmith
    Hammersmith & City line
    towards Barking
    Metropolitan line
    towards Aldgate
    Northern line
    towards Morden
    Piccadilly line
    towards Cockfosters
    towards Brixton
    Victoria line

    King's Cross in Culture

    Boudica and King's Cross

    The area of King's Cross was previously a village known as Battle Bridge which was an ancient crossing of the River Fleet. The original name of the bridge was Broad Ford Bridge. The name "Battle Bridge" is linked to tradition that this was the site of a major battle between the Romans and the British Iceni tribe led by Boudica, Britain's Warrior Queen. Boudica's legendary fame during the Victorian era, when Queen Victoria was portrayed as her 'namesake',[28] restored a historical and cultural foundation to Britain. Boudica has since remained an important cultural symbol in the United Kingdom. The absence of native British literature during the early part of the first millennium means that Britain's native cultural and historical knowledge of Boudica's rebellion, with anything else of pre-Roman occupation, is solely due to the deliberate erasure of indigenous culture with the subsequently revised public image transformed from the propaganda writings of Romans. With scarce historical evidence it is disputed by modern historians. However Lewis Spence's 1937 book "Boadicea – Warrior Queen of the Britons", went so far as to include a map showing the positions of the opposing armies.

    According to folklore,[29] King's Cross is the site of Boudica's final battle and perhaps she is buried under one of the platforms. Platforms 8, 9 and 10 have been suggested as possible sites. There are also passages under the station that her ghost is reputed to haunt.

    In Fiction

    The Ladykillers

    The station, its surrounding streets and the railway approach feature prominently in the 1955 Ealing comedy film The Ladykillers. In the story, a gang robs a security van near the station and Mrs Wilberforce, an elderly widow in a house overlooking the railway, unwittingly assists them in moving the proceeds through the station. Members of the gang fall out with each other and one by one they all fall or are dropped into passing goods wagons.

    Harry Potter

    Hogwarts Express

    King's Cross features in the Harry Potter books, by J. K. Rowling, as the starting point of the Hogwarts Express to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The train uses a secret platform 9¾ accessed through the brick wall barrier between platforms 9 and 10.

    Platforms 9 and 10 are in a separate building from the main station, and they are separated by two intervening tracks.[30] Rowling intended the location to be in the main part of the station, but misremembered the platform numbering. During an interview in 2001, she indicated that she had confused King's Cross with Euston, but platforms 9 and 10 at Euston are also separated by two tracks.[31]

    When the films were made, the station scenes took place within the main station, with platforms 4 and 5 renumbered 9 and 10. In the film of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the exterior of St Pancras was used, as its Victorian Gothic façade was considered more impressive than the real King's Cross.

    When the first film was released, a large floor panel was placed on the ground outside platforms 9 and 10 indicating the Hogwarts Express. It was later removed. Within King's Cross, a cast-iron "Platform 9¾" sign was erected on the wall of the suburban station building containing the real platforms 9 and 10. Part of a luggage trolley was installed below the sign: the near end was visible, but the rest of the trolley has disappeared into the wall. It is common to see Harry Potter fans stop to photograph the trolley or try to push the trolley through the wall to the hidden platform. Due to problems with crowd numbers and renovation work within the station, the half trolley was moved to an exterior wall on Euston Road, and in 2012 to the western departures concourse.

    "King's Cross" is the title of Chapter 35 of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which is set in a dream location resembling the station. The station also features in the epilogue of the book, making it the final setting of the Harry Potter series. The real station appears in the film adaptation of both scenes.

    The station is used throughout the books as a symbol separating the Muggle and Wizarding worlds; when he steps onto the platform Harry begins to come into his own. Each book, it is emphasized how they come and go, and the epilogue features Harry sending off his favorite son into the Wizarding world.

    Other fiction

    • The station is mentioned as suggesting "infinity" to Margaret Schlegel and contrasted with the "facile splendours" of St Pancras in Chapter 2 of E.M. Forster's novel Howards End.
    • The Doctor Who Virgin New Adventures novel Transit features King's Cross as one of the main hubs of an interplanetary transit system based on the London Underground.
    • In children's television programmes featuring the puppet Roland Rat, Roland is said to live in the sewers beneath King's Cross. In Roland Rat: The Series this was realised as the high-tech "Ratcave", accessed from a hidden lift in a workmen's shelter.
    • The twelfth and final episode of the anime Victorian Romance Emma prominently features King's Cross in 1885 with great historical accuracy and detail.
    • Some of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories have Holmes and Watson travelling via King's Cross. The following example is from The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter, Watson speaking first:
    "And what have you gained?"

    "A starting-point for our investigation." He hailed a cab. "King's Cross Station," said he.
    "We have a journey, then?"

    "Yes; I think we must run down to Cambridge together. All the indications seem to me to point in that direction."
    • Scenes from the 1995 Bollywood film Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) were filmed here.
    • There is an underground station called King's Cross on the North London System in the 1980 novel The Horn of Mortal Danger. It corresponds to this station rather than the tube one.
    • In the Rev. W.V. Awdry's Railway Series of children's books, Gordon, Duck and an engine from "the Other Railway" have a lengthy argument about the name of the London station (apparently not realising that there is more than one railway station in London). Gordon says it's called King's Cross, but Duck insists that the name is Paddington (because he worked for the GWR) and the visiting engine believes it to be Euston. Desperate to prove himself right, Gordon tries to go to London himself and finally succeeds. However, on his return from St Pancras he laments that his destination was "all wrong."
    • In Eva Ibbotson's children's book The Secret of Platform 13, there is a door between worlds called a "Gump" under the fictitious and abandoned platform 13.
    • R.S.V.P. Part 1, an issue of the comic book Hellblazer, begins with a shot of the Platform 9¾ sign; the story concerns a gathering of magicians – albeit a less palatable one than Hogwarts.
    • In the film Green Street,[32] King's Cross can be seen in the background of its now abandoned car park.
    • In the 1933 film Friday the Thirteenth,[33] King's Cross is the used location to introduce two of the main characters. The name of the station is emphasised in the dialogue.
    • In Alan Moore's "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century", the station and the local area feature as a centre for the magical forces at work within the text.
    • In their music video "Rent" (1987), King's Cross is used extensively as a backdrop. The concourse is the meeting point for Chris Lowe and Margi Clarke playing characters who are reunited in front of the departures and arrivals board. In the background are notices stating that engineering work will disrupt services, which at the time (1987) was in progress to modernise the line. Parked outside in the taxi rank is Neil Tennant, playing Margi Clarke's taxi driver.
    • The Pet Shop Boys released a song entitled "King's Cross" on the 1987 album Actually, later covered by Tracey Thorn; the cover was subsequently remixed by Hot Chip. The station was extensively filmed in for the Pet Shop Boys feature film released in 1988, It Couldn't Happen Here.
    • The station is featured in the 1981 film Chariots of Fire when Eric Liddell comes to London for his race against Harold Abrahams in 1923.


    King's Cross is seen spelt both with and without an apostrophe:

    • King's Cross is used in signage at the Network Rail and London Underground stations, on the tube map and on the official Network Rail webpage.[34]
    • Kings Cross is used in the National Rail timetable database and other National Rail railway pages, and on the TheTrainLine online booking system. (Stations such as King's Lynn and Hall i' th' Wood also lack apostrophes, suggesting that this is a software limitation or a stylistic convention.)
    • Older British Railways signage did not have an apostrophe.[35]
    • Kings X, Kings + and London KX are abbreviations used in space-limited contexts.
    • KGX is the station code

    The name of the locality is commonly written as "Kings Cross", without an apostrophe.


    External links

    • History of Kings Cross, at the LNER Encyclopedia
    • Pictures of the new concourse opened in March 2012 (London Evening Standard website)

    Video links

    • 1935, Demonstration run of 'Silver Jubilee' to Grantham
    • 1944, Retirement of driver Duddington
    • 1938, Stirling Single special train

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