Okay, Crossrail hasn’t even finished yet, but there’s no better time to get excited about all things Crossrail 2 than at least 12 years too early.
By far the most impressive sounding of the improved stations it’ll bring is north London’s new, so-called ‘megastation’: Euston St. Pancras. This will involve joining Euston and King’s Cross St. Pancras together as one giant underground station. Some versions of the plans show Euston Square being absorbed into the whole thing, too.
And so, to whet your appetite, here are five (loosely defined) facts about the proposals.
1. It will be the biggest station in London…
At the moment, the south rules, with Waterloo receiving 100m or so entry and exits annually – a number very likely to grow over the coming years.
The proposed Crossrail 2 route.
Fairly impressive, you might think. Not to Euston St. Pancras, which merges two of the busiest train stations in the capital (and, let’s not forget, Euston Square).
Even without considering the capacity increase brought by Crossrail 2 – around 10 per cent, to be precise – a merger of the three stations now would serve a whopping 150m people per year. That’s about 5 per cent of all the passengers on the entire underground network, passing through that station alone.
2. ...so big, in fact, that you might be able to get a train from one end to the other
“This is Euston St. Pancras. The next station is Euston St. Pancras.”
Sure, Bank may be a hellish labyrinth (especially in this never-ending heat) but it’s not quite a 15-minute brisk walk end-to-end. That’s about how long it takes to walk along the Euston Road, from the westernmost proposed entrance to the easternmost entrance of King’s Cross St. Pancras, as it currently stands.
Oh god: an unofficial draft of the 2040 tube map, showing Crossrail 2. Image: Ali Carr.
Just as well then, that Euston St. Pancras may well end up having a tube journey from end to end. Today, both the Victoria line and Bank branch of the Northern line run east from Euston to King’s Cross St. Pancras. If HS2 ends up meaning Euston Square gets in on the action too, that’ll be five different tube lines which will do this. If that’s not the definition of a megastation, I’m not sure what is.
3. Its trains will serve destinations over 1,000 miles apart
Okay, I accept that maybe this is cheating. This isn’t technically a fact about the tube station – although it would be a pretty impressive show of one-upmanship on Crossrail’s Reading-Shenfield record.
It is, however, the distance you’ll be able to travel with just one change in the Euston-King’s Cross-St. Pancras complex. Euston’s Caledonian sleeper can take you up to the capital of the Highlands, Inverness, whilst St. Pancras’s Eurostar service stretches down to Marseilles on the Mediterranean coast in the summer.
Unfortunately, no reliable source could tell me whether Hogwarts is to the north or south of Inverness, so I haven’t been able to account for services departing from Platform 9¾.
4. Euston St. Pancras will finally out-do Liverpool Street for number of lines served
Right now, King’s Cross St. Pancras serves the largest number of lines on the tube network, six. It shares this title with Bank (Central, Northern, Waterloo & City, DLR), if you count Monument (District, Circle). It sort shares it with Liverpool Street (four tube lines, plus Overground and TfL Rail), too.
Thanks to that pesky Crossrail 1, Liverpool Street will soon increase its count to seven – replacing TfL Rail with the proper Elizabeth Line, and gaining a direct link to the Northern line’s Bank branch at Moorgate. But, following a £30bn infrastructure project and three-station merger, Euston St. Pancras will finally leave Liverpool Street in the dust with an unprecedented eight lines – gaining Euston’s Overground coverage and, of course, Crossrail 2.
5. It has a really stupid name
Now, this may sound like an opinion rather than a fact – but hear me out.
King’s Cross is perhaps the most significant station of the three. Firstly, it is the name most associated with that area of London these days, despite St. Pancras’s long history as the rightful title of the area. It thus seems ludicrous to drop it from the name of the station.
Secondly, doing so threatens to reignite a centuries-long rivalry. The original King’s Cross station, home of the Great Northern Railway, used to host its rivals, the Great Midlands Railway, until the latter decided to build the bigger, fancier station just over the road.
Despite the Great Midlands’ best efforts, King’s Cross still stands strong, even beating St. Pancras in passenger numbers. So, let’s not let the TfL naming system glibly allow the neo-gothic flashman of a station finally do in its older, less ostentatious rival.
Proposed works in the Euston St. Pancras area. Image: Crossrail 2.
Then what should we end up calling it?
Perhaps we can add another fact to the list with the most convoluted name: Euston Square King’s Cross St. Pancras. Or opt for the subtler Somers Town, the home of all three stations, from the Great Northern-Midlands rivalry until now – and the place shaped most by this monumental project.