‘We may never work on a pro­ject as large again’

It will be an iconic land­mark south of the Thames when it opens in three years but the most im­por­tant thing for the new Lon­don Bridge sta­tion is mak­ing sure the trains run on time. got an ex­clu­sive tour of its £6.5 bil­lion re­de­vel­op­ment

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Rebuilding London Bridge Station -

De­spite the dig­gers shift­ing soil and the ab­sence of trains sweep­ing over­head, it is easy to pic­ture what the huge con­course at Lon­don Bridge sta­tion will look like when it opens in three years’ time.

At peak times, more than 16,000 pas­sen­gers an hour will travel down es­ca­la­tors from the plat­forms to this vast open area, the size of the pitch at Wem­b­ley, con­nect­ing to new des­ti­na­tions like Peterborough and Cam­bridge.

Along­side the rows of shops will stand the orig­i­nal Vic­to­rian arch­ways, with a walk­way con­nect­ing the river­bank to the Shard and Bor­ough Mar­ket.

Un­til Jan­uary 2018, when the sta­tion fully re­opens, the area will be mix­ture of a build­ing site and par­tially re­opened plat­forms. Ser­vices from Kent to Char­ing Cross will con­tinue to go straight through the sta­tion un­til next sum­mer. Some peak time Cannon Street trains are still stop­ping but due to be dis­rupted next year.

“You have to un­der­stand we’re re­build­ing a sta­tion used by 56 mil­lion peo­ple a year and we’re re­build­ing it while it’s open,” said Net­work Rail spokesman Chris Den­ham.

“There is al­ways go­ing to be an el­e­ment of dis­rup­tion but hope­fully the way we’re do­ing it is go­ing to keep that to a min­i­mum.

“When this mas­sive con­course is com­pletely open in 2018 we will have a much bet­ter sta­tion and a much more re­li­able rail­way.”

The key to the re­li­a­bil­ity lies down the line where the 40-yearold tracks are be­ing re­placed.

The point of the re­de­vel­op­ment, known as the Thames­link pro­ject, is to in­crease con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween the north and south of the city but also to make it eas­ier for trains to stay on time.

The re­de­vel­op­ment will use the latest sig­nalling tech­nol­ogy to get 16 trains an hour into Lon­don’s core net­work from Lon­don Bridge, al­low­ing com­muters to travel to more des­ti­na­tions more quickly.

Mean­while, for South­east­ern com­muters, the work has sim­pli­fied the lay­out of the track so trains do not cross over the lines of dif­fer­ent net­works, in­creas­ing ca­pac­ity in the sys­tem.

“One of the big­gest dif­fi­cul­ties be­fore was we had a load of trains com­ing in hig­gledy pig­gledy like spaghetti cross­ing each other,” added Mr Den­ham.

“That causes de­lays, re­li­a­bil­ity prob­lems and our pas­sen­gers a great deal of stress.

“By sep­a­rat­ing them out, although peo­ple won’t have di­rect jour­neys to new des­ti­na­tions, by chang­ing at this fan­tas­tic new con­course, you will be able to get to dif­fer­ent places.

“From Kent, you will sud­denly have a large num­ber of op­tions.”

As the warn­ing buzzer sig­nals a crane op­er­at­ing over­head against the shadow of the Shard, Lon­don’s tallest build­ing, the scale of the pro­ject be­comes The Lon­don Bridge re­de­vel­op­ment will de­clut­ter the con­gested plat­forms, which had ob­struc­tive col­umns in the cen­tre.

It will also ex­tend rain cov­ers to the end of the plat­form, avoid­ing swathes of pas­sen­gers hud­dling for shel­ter in one spot.

Be­fore the de­vel­op­ment there were nine ter­mi­nat­ing plat­forms and six through plat­forms. The new de­vel­op­ment re­v­erses this, which prompted the more ap­par­ent.

“We may never work on a pro­ject as large as this again,” con­struc­tion of a viaduct to carry new track.

Con­struc­tion has been car­ried out from south to north and in­cor­po­rated the old Vic­to­rian ar­chi­tec­ture. The out­side parts of the sta­tion date back to 1836 and were built piece­meal, end­ing up with more than 100 dif­fer­ent types of arches.

“It’s prob­a­bly one of the most com­plex en­gi­neer­ing chal­lenges we have un­der­taken,” said pro­ject di­rec­tor Lau­rence Whit­bourn. It is in the cen­tre of said pro­ject di­rec­tor Lau­rence Whit­bourn.

“It is a real priv­i­lege to work Lon­don and right next to the Shard, all of which we have to con­sider, and we have both new in­fra­struc­ture and Vic­to­rian arches we are go­ing to keep.

“We are try­ing to keep some of the her­itage of the sta­tion, which would look good in the new en­vi­ron­ment.

“Also it is sus­tain­able and cost-ef­fec­tive to re­use ex­ist­ing in­fra­struc­ture where we can, rather than knock­ing it all down and bring­ing in new bricks and con­crete.” on some­thing of this scale and com­plex­ity. Hope­fully it will be an iconic land­mark for Lon­don.”

Pic­ture: Net­work Rail

An artist’s im­pres­sion of the St Thomas Street fa­cade of the sta­tion

Thames­link pro­ject di­rec­tor Lau­rence Whit­bourn

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