Royal opening for London Bridge Station offers ‘Transformation in Passenger Experience’
The country’s fourth busiest railway station, London Bridge, was officially reopened on the 9th May by The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William following a £1 billion 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 the local primary school 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.
“Thanks to government-sponsored investment, London Bridge station will be the beating heart of the Thameslink, offering thousands of commuters more frequent and reliable services, with modern new trains using pioneering world-first technology to enable better journeys across the entire route.
“It is my honour to welcome the Duke of Cambridge to London Bridge station to officially declare it open.”
Mark Carne, Chief Executive of Network Rail, said: “This station has been rebuilt from its Victorian foundations upwards, while still providing a service for the 48 million people who use it every year, to be delivered on the very day we said we would five years ago.
“This is a station that represents a transformation in passenger experience, a catalyst for economic growth and a world first in the use of Digital Railway technology demonstrating our vision of the future.
“I give my thanks to the great people and great teams behind this fantastic project, as well as to our customers for their patience and understanding during these major works.”
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.
David Brown, Chief Executive Officer at Go Ahead Group (majority owner of Govia Thameslink Railway and Southeastern), said: “The work at London Bridge has enabled the reintroduction of Thameslink services and a much better experience for our customers, who have shown patience throughout the disruption involved. In 11 days we’ll be introducing an exciting, new, expanded Thameslink network – connecting new communities north and south of the capital with quicker journeys across central London and additional capacity”.
Gordon Wakeford , Managing Director Siemens Mobility Division UK, said: “The Thameslink Programme will deliver greatly expanded passenger capacity on the north south route via the core area between London St Pancras, London Bridge and Elephant & Castle. Siemens is very proud of delivering the most advanced UK passenger train fleet on time with the 115 new Desiro City Class 700 trains and re-signalling the core area to enable the trains to achieve a world first with automatic train operation in combination with the European train control system. This technology is critical to safely achieving a 24 trains per hour passenger service.”
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.”
Peter Williams – CEO, Better Bankside, said: “The remodelling of London Bridge station has been a massive undertaking which has inevitably impacted on its users and neighbours over an extended period. Network Rail is to be congratulated on delivering such a large infrastructure investment in such a dense space. The re-opening is very welcome on a number of fronts, improving connections for businesses and employees in the area and further energising the local economy”.
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.”
Darren James, Infrastructure Managing Director at Costain, said: “London Bridge is one of the capital’s most important hubs for commuters and visitors from across London and south-east England. Therefore ensuring it meets the demands of 21st century rail passengers is vital.
For the past four years, we have delivered work on this complex redevelopment project to not only enhance the service people rely on everyday but to also allow for millions more people to benefit from it. Collaborative engineering, enabled by cutting-edge technology and programme management, has been a key part of the station’s success and we are excited to see our work continue to make a positive difference to people’s journeys for years to come.”
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 re-modelling and re-signalling 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.
Mark Bullock, Balfour Beatty’s Managing Director for Rail and Utilities: said, “Harnessing our unrivalled expertise in critical rail infrastructure Balfour Beatty worked alongside its partners to deliver this complex and challenging project while ensuring the station remained open throughout. All at Balfour Beatty are proud to be part of the new iconic London Bridge station; which will transform north-south travel through London and vastly improve commuter services.”
London Bridge has remained open to passengers throughout the works. It has been opened to passengers for four months but today’s ceremony marked the completion of the project. Minor finishing works are taking place at the Tooley Street entrance these are expected to be completed by June.