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The node

King's Cross-St Pancras is one of the most intensely used transport interchanges in London (Figures 9.1 and 9.2). Every morning, 30000 travellers come into King's Cross-St Pancras, more than anywhere else in the UK, except for Oxford Circus tube station. The node includes several above-ground and underground levels and stations. Two bundles of national railway lines converge here (the Midland main line at St Pancras, and the East Coast main line at King's Cross). Furthermore, the node includes the West Anglia, Great Northern and Thameslink regional railways. The latter is the only through-London rail line. Six Underground (metro) lines and numerous bus lines—urban, regional, national, and international - all stop at King's Cross-St Pancras station. Euston Road, tangential to the two main railway station buildings, is part of a London inner ringway.

Plans to strengthen the node centre hinge on the decision to locate here the second and main London terminal of the high-speed Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL). Since the approval in 1996 of the CTRL Act, those plans are finally entering the implementation phase. The total cost of the CTRL is estimated at £3 billion (February 1995). About half of that amount will be contributed by central government. The other half is to be provided by London & Continental Railways (LCR), the private consortium that in 1996 won the competition to build and operate the link. At King's Cross-St Pancras, even more is envisaged than the work on international and domestic CTRL tracks and platforms, which are due to open in 2003. The plans for the upgrading of the interchange include a new underground Thameslink station, improvements on the existing Underground facilities, and better connections between all modes. A fast airport rail link to Heathrow Airport is also under discussion.

Fig. 9.2 King's Cross-St Pancras in the metropolitan public transportation networks. (Source: London Transport and Network South East)

The CTRL will bring increased speed and more capacity to the London-Channel Tunnel corridor. Travel time will be cut from 70 to 35 minutes, bringing the trip to Paris down to 2 hours 20 minutes, and the trip to Brussels down to 2 hours. With the greater capacity, the corridor will be able to handle up to eight trains per hour each way, or twice as many Eurostars as are now possible. It will have four stations: a main London terminal at St Pancras; two intermediate stations, one at Stratford in East London, and one at Ebbsfleet in North Kent; and the existing Channel Tunnel station at Ashford. St Pancras will be the interchange between Eurostar and the existing Intercity, regional rail and Underground services. The node is designed to allow, at peak times per hour, in each direction, five international Eurostar trains, eight express domestic trains serving north Kent, ten Midlands main line trains, and 24 Thameslink trains. Some trains will stop at Stratford, bypassing St Pancras on a new link with the West Coast main line, and continue onwards to the North-West of England (Manchester, Birmingham). Additionally, Waterloo station will be connected to the CTRL south of Ebbsfleet, and will be maintained as a second international London terminal. At peak times there will be five international trains per hour from St Pancras, three from Waterloo, and two through Stratford. Express commuter trains between Kent and London will also use the CTRL on part of their journey, significantly cutting the travel time of about 25 000 daily commuters.

9.3.2 The place

The King's Cross railway lands are adjacent to the King's Cross-St Pancras transport node (Figure 9.3). These lands form one of the largest development sites in Europe. At present, the property is occupied by partly disused freight and industrial yards (including some notable examples of the Victorian industrial heritage), and a nature reserve. The Regent's Canal cuts across the site. The area lies just outside central London, and its features reflect this anomalous location. Various public institutions -including Camden City Hall and recently the new British Library—are located there. Some offices line Euston Road. There are hotels near the terminals, and retail establishments along the major thoroughfares. More to the north of the area, and on the railway lands, there are a number of light industrial sites. On the whole, public open space is scarce and fragmented. With the exception of the south side, the area 'is set alongside a poor general environment, dysfunctional streets and roads, a deprived population and a dreadful reputation' (King's Cross Partnership, 1997). The 3 square mile (780 ha) area identified by the Single Regeneration Budget bid (Figure 9.4) as 'the stations and their surroundings' is where 16 000 people live. A third of the residents are minorities, and three-quarters live in social housing. Unemployment is well above the national average. Commercial rents are significantly lower and vacancy rates higher than in other central London areas.

9.3.3 The process

For the last 10 years, the redevelopment process of the King's Cross railway lands has been the subject of complex negotiations involving local and central governments, the local community,

Fig. 9.3 The King's Cross railway lands, viewed from the south. St Pancras and King's Cross stations foreground. The development site, in the background, is now mainly occupied by partly disused freight and industrial yards, and includes some notable Victorian industrial heritage and a nature reserve. (Source: Union Railways (London & Continental))

Fig. 9.3 The King's Cross railway lands, viewed from the south. St Pancras and King's Cross stations foreground. The development site, in the background, is now mainly occupied by partly disused freight and industrial yards, and includes some notable Victorian industrial heritage and a nature reserve. (Source: Union Railways (London & Continental))

transport operators, and property developers. Negotiations have concerned both land and transport development issues, but have often been held at separate tables.

A series of planning documents have provided a rather weak framework for the negotiations. The Greater London Development Plan (GLDP) of 1976 first identified King's Cross as a potential office location linked to an improved public transport node. A GLDP revision in 1984 attempted to impose limits on future tertiary developments in the area. The

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