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New Departure Hall Concourse at Kings Cross Station

BY Boon Koh
Published 31 March 2012

I hadn’t been to Kings Cross for a while, but on my last visit there last weekend to catch a train to Cambridge, I was awe-struck by the amazing open-air cocoon-like concourse plaza of the Western side of Kings Cross Station.

Opened just a few days earlier before my visit on the 19th March 2012, the new station concourse was designed by John McAslan, and really does provide much more space than the existing Eastern concourse. Train delays are now more bearable than before, with lots of delightful shops and cafes and dining outlets. Much better than either the jam packed WH Smith or the grotty Burger King on the old concourse, and more seating areas too. The new departure concourse is part of a wider Kings Cross redevelopment project.

This new King’s Cross station is being used as the departure area, so all passengers will have to enter this departure hall to access the ticket gates. The old concourse is now for exiting passengers only. The roof of this new departure hall is the stunning bit – lit up with purple lighting, it exudes a calming and ultra-modern feel. For once, we have a “new” train station in London that looks like it belongs to the modern age! Even St Pancras is now starting to look dated.

It is claimed that that the new departure hall roof is the longest single-span structure in Europe, and it does look like it, without any supporting columns or beams in the middle. Half the roof panels are glass, letting in lots of natural sunlight.

While I was there, I noticed something odd and peculiar. King’s Cross Station is probably the only train station in the world that I know of that has a platform zero. What’s the story behind platform zero at King’s Cross? Its a new platform that opened in May 2010, on the east side of the station. One of the original names for it was going to be Platform Y, but then it would have looked weird on the noticeboards as platforms 1-8 and Y, so instead it was decided to be Platform 0-8. The numbering is to be reset though when all the platforms are refurbished by 2013 though, so Platform 0 is not here to stay.