London King's Cross railway station

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King's Cross National Rail
London King's Cross
King's Cross station frontage following restoration, in 2014.
King's Cross is located in Central London
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
DfT category A
Number of platforms 12 (Numbered 0–11)
Accessible Yes
Fare zone 1
OSI King's Cross St. Pancras London Underground
London St Pancras Int'l National Rail
London Euston London Overground National Rail [1]
Cycle parking Yes – platforms 0 & 1, 8, 9 and car park racks
Toilet facilities Yes
National Rail annual entry and exit
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]
2012–13 Increase 28.454 million[2]
— interchange  Increase 3.583 million[2]
2013–14 Increase 29.824 million[2]
— interchange  Decrease 3.499 million[2]
2014–15 Increase 31.347 million[2]
— interchange  Increase 3.736 million[2]
Railway companies
Original company Great Northern Railway
Pre-grouping Great Northern Railway
Post-grouping London & North Eastern Railway
Key dates
1852 Opened
Other information
Lists of stations
External links
London Transport portal
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King's Cross railway station[3][4] is a major London railway terminus which opened in 1852 on the northern edge of central London.

King's Cross is the southern terminus of the East Coast Main Line, providing high speed inter-city services to Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland. Virgin Trains East Coast is the main inter-city operator with destinations including Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh. Other inter-city operators serving the station include Hull Trains and Grand Central.

King's Cross is also a terminus for Great Northern which provides commuter services to North London, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Norfolk. Immediately to the west across Pancras Road is St Pancras International, the London terminus of Eurostar services to continental Europe. The two stations share King's Cross St. Pancras tube station on the London Underground network and taken together form one of Britain's biggest transport hubs. The station is 820 yards (750 m) north-east of Euston, the southern terminus for the West Coast Main Line.


King's Cross in 1852
Plan of King's Cross in 1888. Originally there was only one arrival and one departure platform.
Steam trains at King's Cross in 1928

King's Cross was built in 1851–1852 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, which was named after a monument to King George IV that was demolished in 1845.[5] Construction was on the site of a fever and smallpox hospital and it replaced a temporary terminus at Maiden Lane that had opened on 7 August 1850.[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, the brother of both Thomas Cubitt (the architect of Bloomsbury, Belgravia and Osborne House), and of Sir William Cubitt (who was chief engineer of The Crystal Palace built in 1851, and consulting engineer to the Great Northern and South Eastern Railways). The design is magnificent in its simplicity, being based on two great arched train sheds, with a brick structure at the south end designed to reflect the main arches behind. In size, it was inspired by the 200 yards (180 m) long Moscow Riding Academy of 1825, which it handsomely exceeded at 269 yards (246 m). At the time King's Cross station was the last word in functional modernity. Lewis Cubitt was also responsible for the design of the Great Northern Hotel (see below), and the 1847 cast-iron railway bridge over the River Nene at Peterborough.

The main part of the station, which today includes platforms 1 to 8, was opened on 14 October 1852. 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 in the 1860s and 1870s 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.[9]

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 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[10] 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]

In 1991 British Rail proposed a new station under Kings Cross, with four platforms for international trains through the Channel Tunnel, and four for Thameslink trains, with some commuter trains to be diverted to St Pancras. These plans were abandoned in favour of the international trains using a new terminal at St Pancras.[15]

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.

Class 105 at Kings Cross, York Rd station on the last day of diesel services to Moorgate

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.[16]

Great Northern Cemetery Station

Started in 1855 and opened in 1861 just north of the main station on the Islington side, was constructed a facility for taking coffins and mourners away from the city to the burial grounds at New Southgate Cemetery. This was similar in function to the London Necropolis railway station which was adjacent to Waterloo station in the south but was intended to be a cheaper, more affordable service. The station was at the road level, with coffins lowered by hydraulic lift to the railway level. It never made a profit and was closed in 1873 after just twelve years in operation.[17]


Platforms 5 to 8 of the westerly of the two refurbished train sheds in 2015
King's Cross departures concourse in 2012

In 2005, a £500 million restoration plan was announced by Network Rail; it was approved by Camden London Borough Council on 9 November 2007.[18] 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.[19][20]

A new semi-circular departures concourse, opened to the public on 19 March 2012,[21][22] 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,[23] 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 59 yards (54 m) and over 2,000 triangular roof panels, half of which are glass.[19]

The steel structure of the roof, engineered by Arup, has been described as being "like some kind of reverse waterfall, a white steel grid that swoops up from the ground and cascades over your head".[19]
Platform 6 after the refurbishment

The land between and behind the two stations is being redeveloped with nearly 2,000 new homes, 5,234,000 sq ft (486,280 m2) 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, diesel trains are not permitted to use this platform except in an emergency. 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.[24] 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 restoration project was awarded a European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award in 2013.[25][26]

Accidents and incidents

  • On 18 August 1855, a passenger train collided with the buffer stops.[27]
  • On 30 May 1860, an excursion train collided with the buffer stops. About fourteen people were injured.[28]
  • On 2 November 1865, a coal train became divided at the station. The rear portion ran back and ran through the buffer stops. One person was injured.[29]
  • On 30 October 1873, a passenger train stalled on leaving the station and ran back. The following passenger train collided with it. One person was seriously injured and several others were also injured.[30]
  • On 22 March 1875, a passenger train was derailed entering Gasworks Tunnel. Some passengers were injured.[31]
  • On 8 January 1878, a freight train became divided. The rear portion ran back and was in collision with a passenger train. Three people were severely injured.[32]
  • On 9 April 1881, a passenger train was in a rear-end collision with an empty stock train in Gasworks Tunnel. One person was injured.[33]
  • On 15 September 1881, a light engine and a coal train were in collision near the mouth of Copenhagen Tunnel due to a signalman's error. One person was killed and one was severely injured.[34]
  • On 8 November 1884, an empty stock train collided with a rake of carriages. One person was injured. The driver claimed brake failure as the cause.[35]
  • On 30 June 1885, a freight train and a passenger train were in collision at the mouth of Gasworks Tunnel. No injuries were reported.[36]
  • On 23 December 1893, a passenger train ran into an empty stock train on leaving the station due to a signalman's error. Two people were injured.[37]
  • On 22 July 1896, a passenger train was derailed when leaving the station. One carriage overturned. Twenty people were injured; two people suffered broken arms.[38]
  • On 10 March 1897, an excursion train collided with the buffer stops.[39] Twelve people were injured.[40]
  • On 4 February 1945, a passenger train stalled in Gasworks Tunnel, ran back and was derailed in the station. Two people were killed and 25 were injured.[41]
  • On 16 September 2003, a passenger train was derailed due to a signalman's error, compounded by a maintenance error. There were no injuries.[42][43]
  • On 17 September 2015, the 12:18 arrival from Cambridge collided with the buffer stops at platform 11. Five passengers were injured.[44]


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.[45] It has been used on official maps from Underground companies since 1951 – the apostrophe was used on them only very rarely before 1951.[46]
  • Kings Cross is used in the National Rail timetable database and other National Rail railway pages, and on the online booking system.[citation needed]
  • Kings X, Kings + and London KX are abbreviations used in space-limited contexts.
  • KGX is the station code.[47]


The station serves inter city routes to the East of England, Yorkshire, North East England and eastern and northern Scotland, connecting to major cities and towns such as Cambridge, Peterborough, Hull, Doncaster, Leeds, York, Sunderland, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bradford, Aberdeen and Inverness.

Train Services

Four train services operate from King's Cross:

Virgin Trains East Coast operates high speed inter-city services along the East Coast Main Line. Basic off-peak timetable includes:

Great Northern operate outer-suburban services to North London, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire. Basic off-peak timetable includes:[49]

  • 2 services per hour to Peterborough (1 semi-fast, 1 stopping)
  • 1 service per hour non-stop to Cambridge
  • 1 service per hour to King's Lynn
  • 2 slow services per hour to Cambridge (1 semi-fast, 1 stopping)

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

Grand Central operates inter-city services to Bradford 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[50] which had originally been due to begin in December 2009.[51][52]

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 National Rail Following station
Terminus   First Hull Trains
  Stevenage or
Terminus   Hull Trains
Terminus   Virgin Trains East Coast
London-Leeds and West Yorkshire services
  Stevenage or
Terminus   Virgin Trains East Coast
Flying Scotsman service/London-Edinburgh (fast)
  Newcastle Central
Terminus   Virgin Trains East Coast
London-Edinburgh/Scotland express services
  Peterborough or
Terminus   Virgin Trains East Coast
London-Newcastle/Edinburgh semi-fast services
  Stevenage or
Peterborough or
Terminus   Virgin Trains East Coast
  Stevenage or
Terminus   Virgin Trains East Coast
One train a day
  Selby or
Peterborough or
Terminus   Grand Central
North Eastern
  Grand Central
West Riding
London-Bradford Interchange
Terminus   Great Northern
Cambridge Cruiser and London-Cambridge (Semi-fast)
  Cambridge or
Finsbury Park or
Letchworth Garden City or
Terminus   Great Northern
  Finsbury Park or
Stevenage or
Hitchin or
Biggleswade or
St. Neots or
Terminus   Great Northern
Northern City Line
(Nights and Weekends only)
  Finsbury Park
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.

Tube Routes

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

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',[53] 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,[54] 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 from the parapet of the Copenhagen Tunnel a mile to the north of the station.

Harry Potter

Platform 9¾ is in the western departures concourse, close to platforms 9 and 10, below the walkway leading to the main building.
Hogwarts Express
Hogsmeadefor Hogwarts
Anglo-Scottish border
King's Cross StationLondon

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.[55] Rowling intended the location to be in the main part of the station, but she misremembered the platform numbering. In a 2001 interview, she indicated that she had confused King's Cross with Euston, but platforms 9 and 10 at Euston are also separated by two tracks.[56]

Within King's Cross, a cast-iron "Platform 9¾" plaque was erected in 1999, initially in a passageway connecting the main station to the platform 9-11 annexe. Part of a luggage trolley was installed below the sign: the near end of the trolley was visible, but the rest had disappeared into the wall. The location quickly became a popular tourist spot amongst Harry Potter fans. Crowding problems in the passage after the release of the first movie resulted in the trolley being removed and the plaque being relocated in 2002 to a bricked up entryway to platform 9 on the exterior wall of the station annexe. A new trolley was added to the new location in 2003. The sign and a revamped trolley, complete with luggage and bird cage, were relocated again in 2012, following the development of the new concourse building.[citation needed]

"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.[citation needed]

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.
  • In Alfred Hitchcock's 1935 film The 39 Steps the inncocent hero has to flee pursuers in London by boarding the Flying Scotsman train to Scotland at King's Cross.
  • The twelfth and final episode of the anime Victorian Romance Emma prominently features King's Cross in 1885 with great historical accuracy and detail.
  • 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 station.
  • 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 the 1933 film Friday the Thirteenth,[57] King's Cross is the used location to introduce two of the main characters. The name of the station is emphasised in the dialogue.
  • 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.

In popular music

  • The Pet Shop Boys released a song entitled "King's Cross" on the 1987 album Actually. The station was extensively filmed in for the Pet Shop Boys feature film released in 1988, It Couldn't Happen Here.
    • 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 song "Who Was That Man" on Nick Lowe's 1991 recording Party_of_One refers to an unidentified victim of the King's Cross Fire.


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External links

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