Earlier today, with music and free food, the Elizabeth Line’s first railway station opened to the public.
There’s no ticket hall in this new station. In fact, there’s no trains either. This is Canary Wharf, and while the station building is open, and busy, no trains will call here until 2018.
What they have done is open up the top half of the building, which is, in line with St Pancras, more shopping centre with trains as an added extra. When they eventually arrive.
The absence of trains is further emphasized by the advertising for the new building, which has shown it more as a cruise ship than a railway station, with promotional boarding passes being handed out to visitors rather than train tickets.
So the opening of the first Crossrail station to passengers shoppers has been a very muted affair as far as the railway is concerned.
But what’s the shopping like?
Actually almost as muted as the railway. A few eateries on the ground floor, a bank, a cycle shop and not much else really. That is in part due to not all of the shopping having opened, with an entire floor downstairs still closed off.
It’s more likely because this is passing through shopping, aimed at future railway passengers, and maybe some of the local office workers not fancying the lengthy lunchtime queues in the main shopping arena.
However, railway station below aside, the main draw is likely to be at the top of the station, with the huge semi-open air garden.
Anyone who has visited the SkyGarden in the City might feel rather at home here as it will look rather familiar. Which is not surprising, as Canary Wharf Group built the building. Yes, Canary Wharf built the Walkie-Talkie.
Unlike the open spaces elsewhere in Canary Wharf though, this roof top garden is more for looking and wandering around, not lounging around in. Don’t come up here expecting to be able to set up a picnic on a summer’s day.
An unsurprisingly packed afternoon on its first day, with the free food as lure, and loud Jazz shaking the plants a bit near the loudspeakers, but it was still possible to find clever photo vantage points for almost empty shots.
The gardens are also closed at night, or at least from dusk, although that may change if the commercial lure proves strong enough.
So, today a decent looking to look at and not much else garden opened to the public, with a few shops, and two floors of empty space below pregnant with expectations of Crossrail to come.
Some more photos: