The country’s fourth busiest railway station, London Bridge, has been officially reopened today (Wednesday 9th May) by Prince William the Duke of Cambridge following a £1billion transformation by Network Rail nearly doubling its passenger capacity and enabling more and faster connections for passengers.
In a five year build, the Thameslink programme, partnership between the Department for Transport, Network Rail, Govia Thameslink Railway, Southeastern and Siemens, has created the largest street-level station concourse in the UK – big enough to lay the Shard down inside- for passengers to make their connections smoothly and efficiently. Work has included a major track upgrade, a new rail underpass on the approach to the station and platform widenings and extensions, all of which means 30% more trains can use the station than before.
His Royal Highness arrived at London Bridge station on a new Siemens Class 700 Thameslink train where he met the Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP and Mark Carne, Chief Executive of Network Rail. His Royal Highness then descended from the platform into the new station concourse to meet groups of apprentices, project leaders and staff involved in the redevelopment. They were then given a singing performance by children from Snowsfields and Tower Bridge Primary Schools before unveiling a ceremonial ‘sleeper’ marking the completion of the improved station.
For the first time in over a hundred and fifty years, passengers at London Bridge – which was built in the 19th century as two separate stations – are able to reach all 15 platforms from one concourse.
The 15 new platforms were completely rebuilt with three more through platforms helping to service the stations on the north side of the Thames and the number of terminating platforms reduced to six. Two platforms are dedicated to the Thameslink service which allows a very significant uplift in services able to stop and pass through the station, carrying more carriages before and reaching a 138 station network stretching from Bedford to Brighton.
Transport Secretary, the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, said: “Today, we are indebted to the thousands of men and women who have built a modern, accessible and iconic station fit for London’s future, and the patience of passengers who will now see a transformation in their journeys.
Mark Carne, Chief Executive of Network Rail, said: “This station has been rebuilt from its Victorian foundations upwards by a team of engineers while still providing a service for the 48 million people who use the station every year to deliver it on the very day we said we would five years ago."
The 15 new platforms were completely rebuilt and the number of ‘through’ platforms has increased from six to nine during the reconstruction. This has enabled the creation of two platforms dedicated to the expanded Thameslink service which connects 138 destinations from Peterborough, Bedford and Cambridge in the north to Brighton, Littlehampton, Horsham, Rainham and Maidstone in the south.
With public access through entrances to the north, south, east and west, the station is filled with more than 80 new shops, cafes and restaurants, making London Bridge station a destination in its own right, creating hundreds of jobs and boosting economic growth in Bermondsey and Southwark.
Nadia Broccardo, Team London Bridge CEO, said: “Team London Bridge and our business community has long supported the redevelopment of London Bridge station and are delighted with the results. The station is a stunning piece of architecture in its own right and the Thameslink Programme in London Bridge has been managed extremely well under often challenging circumstances. The Network Rail, Costain and Thameslink project teams have become part of our community over the past six years and we look forward from benefitting from the new retailers, public spaces, rail connections and capacity that the opening of the new station brings.”
David Biggs, Managing Director, Network Rail Property, said, “The redeveloped London Bridge station represents a new landmark for Network Rail, bringing together years of work and expertise to create a truly iconic place that delivers for commuters, customers, and the local community.
“The project not only modernises a vital transport hub, it creates a new focal point on the South Bank that boasts more retail units than any other Network Rail managed station. We’re excited about this growing and improving retail offer and providing a destination where people can travel, shop, eat and socialise.”
The Government is investing in the network which London Bridge is part of through the circa £7bn Thameslink Programme, to increase capacity, boost reliability, improve journeys by modernising the existing railway fabric, upgrading stations and introducing new trains and carriages.
London Bridge station is the oldest station in central London and was originally built in 1836. Today it caters to around 48 million passengers per year, making it one of the busiest stations in the country.
Work at London Bridge has included track remodelling and resignalling of all lines east and west of the station involving 128 different track stages and 9 signalling changes and strengthening of 35 bridge structures. Over 40km track and 147 new switches and crossings have been installed.
More about the Thameslink Progamme can be seen here.