London

London Bridge upgrade offers relief for rail passengers

London Bridge concourse Image copyright Network Rail

Relief is on its way for passengers who have faced delays and lack of space at one of London's busiest rail stations.

Two thirds of a new concourse linking eight platforms will open to passengers at London Bridge on Monday.

The concourse, set to be completed in 2018, will ultimately link 15 platforms serving 80 trains an hour.

The project has not been without challenges, with the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) citing "life-threatening chaos" during one crush.

London's oldest station, which opened in 1836, is used by 55 million people annually.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Commuters experienced severe delays and disruption in January because of the station upgrade work
Image copyright @Blowers Son
Image caption People jumped over or clambered beneath ticket barriers to try to avoid a crush at London Bridge in March 2015

Network Rail said the work, as part of the £6.5bn Thameslink project, involved the station "effectively being rebuilt" while keeping it open to passengers.

This led to some jumping over and crawling beneath ticket barriers in an effort to avoid a crush on the concourse.

Monday will also see new stairs and escalators linking platforms unveiled, while Charing Cross trains - via Waterloo East - will start calling at London Bridge for the first time since January 2015.

Tim Witcomb, from Network Rail, said: "The concourse is very impressive. It's spacious, easy to navigate and very modern, but still keeps some of the character of the old London Bridge."

The next phase will see construction work relocated to the north of the station, where Southeastern trains to Cannon Street currently run.

It will mean major changes to services, including Cannon Street trains not calling at London Bridge, until January 2018.

The Thameslink Programme is focused on improving north-south travel through London with upgrades to Blackfriars and Farringdon stations and Borough Viaduct.


Timeline

Image copyright Network Rail
Image caption The Shard sits next to London Bridge

2011 - Planning permission granted

2013 - Complete redevelopment of London Bridge station started

2014 - First new platform opened

2016 - Partial reopening of concourse

2018 - Station redevelopment complete


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