Kings Cross station: no entry for locals?

The Kings Cross community website has been updating us on the the campaign to keep pedestrian acccess to the north-east end of the station from York Way. For years, pedestrians have been able to reach platform 1 at Kings Cross from York Way opposite its junction with Wharfdale Road. This has huge benefits for the users concerned, and also for the operation of the current station.

One of the big challenges for the current Kings Cross station is that its concourse space struggles to accommodate the volume of passengers. And the new permanent entrance to the station will be on the far, western side. So having another entrance to manage passenger flow is good news all round.

Or would be, if Network Rail were minded to retain it. Frustratingly, as Sophie Talbot reports here, Network Rail has rejected community suggestions for a footbridge to secure pedestrian access at this entrance for the future. Yet the argument for increasing access here is growing, not diminishing: the more exits the better, in case of security alerts, fires or accidents. Distributing passenger flow around the station, reducing bottle-necks and increasing safety is surely the right approach.

Network Rail are ignoring all sorts of external factors; from the growing numbers of bus passengers waiting further down York Way to the recent investment in making Wharfdale Road safer and more attractive. These all strengthen the case for encouraging people into the station at this point to minimise pavement congestion and make best use of pedestrian routes. And that’s without taking into account all the new homes in the area still to come. Good connections outside the station may not be Network Rail’s problem, but they need to remember that this is what integrated transport planning is supposed to be all about.

Network Rail are arrogantly abandoning the long-term wishes of local people, clearly expressed by both the council and a very active local community. As Sophie argues, by the time the transformation of Kings Cross is complete, Islington residents will have be living with disruption for a lifetime. So the community is entitled to get some benefit.

Getting improved connections for Islington residents in and out of a redeveloped Kings Cross has always been a key aim. Throughout my time on the Kings Cross Partnership, we pressed for making the Islington side of the project work for Islington. As as the lead councillor for transport in Islington, I championed the policy priority that “the improved national and international rail links in and around Islington, especially at Kings Cross and St Pancras stations, [should] enhance connections to and within Islington” and got it written into Islington’s sustainable transport strategy. So it’s incredibly frustrating that Network Rail are ignoring this now.

On a personal level, as a woman who used to use that entrance & exit to Kings Cross as part of my daily commute, I know that it’s not merely handy but also really important for passenger safety. So I fully support the community’s refusal to take no for an answer.


1 Comment »

  1. […] Neighbourhood ·Tagged access, Kings Cross A few weeks ago I blogged about keeping east-side access to Kings Cross station. I’ve always seen the redevelopment of Kings Cross as a way to improve what’s on offer […]

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