A plan has emerged that could see Charing Cross station rebuilt in a style similar to Blackfriars, with platforms running across the Thames.

A long term report into upgrades needed across the Kent routes for Network Rail looks at a number of options, many of which are routine capacity upgrades needed by 2024, but also some blue-sky thinking for the future.

One of the more radical proposals is to overcome capacity restrictions at Charing Cross station. At the moment, it has six 12-car platforms and half of the platforms are very narrow. Additionally, there are restrictions on what sorts of trains can use the station, as not all of them can comply with the required selective door opening.

Network Rail suggests one solution would be a major rebuild of the station, along the lines of Blackfriars, extending it across the Thames, so that wider platforms can support longer trains.

It’s also speculated that such an arrangement could see Waterloo East closed.

Network Rail notes, unsurprisingly, that there would be many issues with “a project on this scale”.

Financials would be a serious constraint, as the existing Charing Cross station would probably need to be demolished and rebuilt to cover some of the cost, but it is currently shared with offices and a hotel leaving limited room for additional development.

That’s all for the distant future though.

Elsewhere, the report looks at more immediate issues, such as how to run more 8 and 12-car trains into increasingly crowded spaces.

Issues such as the way the 3rd-rail power supply drops sharply when longer trains are introduced need to be addressed, and more strategically than in the past.

Station upgrades would also be needed at stations such as Waterloo East and Woolwich Dockyard, where due to the mixture of trains on the routes, reliably offering selective door opening would be difficult.

The shuttle service that runs to Bromley North could end up with drivers at either end of the trains, so that they can turn around faster, increasing the number of trips per hour.

Services into Victoria that already run with 8-car trains where stations cannot be lengthened may see the trains replaced with higher capacity (aka, fewer seats) trains to cope with demand.

One of the more curious issues is that London Bridge can allow more trains into London during the rush hours than it can get back out again. An option being considered is to turn the little-used curve between Charing Cross and Canons Street into a siding, to store an extra train each morning and evening.

Further ahead, upgrades at Victoria Station and dealing with bottlenecks at Herne Hill and Catford are marked for attention, possibly with a new rail flyover to avoid junction conflicts.

Capacity issues at Hayes also exist, but there’s also the possibility of the Bakerloo line being extended and taking over those lines.

There is also the proposal that crops up every so often, to extend the future Elizabeth line from Abbey Wood out to Gravesend. The line has now been safeguarded for the extension out just past Gravesend to the stabling yards at Hoo Junction.

Freight is not overlooked, with a possible short rail link near Greenwich for the Angerstein Wharf to avoid a 21 mile capacity absorbing diversion that freight trains heading west currently undertake.

A number of new stations are also being investigated, such as reopening Camberwell and Brixton East.

The 77 page document is here, and a consultation on the plans is open now.

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7 comments
  1. Alan Ingram says:

    Why say close Waterloo East then Say extend Waterloo East ?

    • Ian Visits says:

      Two different plans, one is to extend the platforms as short-term plan to deal with immediate issues.

      If, and huge gigantic IF, Charing Cross is rebuilt, then MAYBE close Waterloo East.

  2. Melvyn says:

    If Charing Cross Station is rebuilt in a similar fashion to Blackfriars Station then consideration of providing direct interchange between Charing Cross Mainline Station and Embankment Underground Station to provide new interchange facilities needs to be made .

    I can’t see the proposal to close Waterloo East Station as being very popular given how it is used to provide interchange between South Eastern and South West Train services at Waterloo Mainline Station.

    The new Shell Centre development on the south Bank lends itself to a new south bank entrance similar to the one built at Blackfriars Station.

  3. Nile says:

    The existing office development in the ‘airspace’ over the tracks approaching Charing Cross is very desirable – and very expensive – property.

    All the more reason to create more of it: but the short-term cost of disrupting the existing leases could be prohibitive.

    On the other hand, I remember reading about that development, and the bowstring arches that support it, more than 20 years ago. I wonder when the leases are up…

    Meanwhile, I think other commentators are right to draw attention to a replacement for the link between Waterloo East and Waterloo at the South end of the proposes new station.

    Among other issues, there must be a question about capacity at Waterloo’s Jubilee Line station.

  4. Mike Pellatt says:

    Metropolitan curve was used to get empty trains out of Cannon Street in the mornings and back in the evenings via Elephant & Castle. Thameslink 2000-and-counting took that capacity, and the possibility of reversing at Blackfriars, out of the equation. So having (eventually) decided to leave the junction in place, a siding is about the only use for it.

  5. Nicholas Bennett says:

    Removing Waterloo East would end the link to Southwark Underground Station and the ability to exit on to Blackfriars Bridge Road.

    Bromley Council favour creating a link to Docklands by extending the Overground to Bromley North from New Cross. To prevent inference with the fast lines a flyover at Grove Park in suggested which might cost c £250m The Council’s original proposal was for the DLR to be extended using Network Rail lines from Lewisham but TfL suggested that a new line via Catford and Bellingham including tunnels at a cost of c £2bn which was clearly not feasible given other, competing proposals.

    The Council supports the Bakerloo extension to Lewisham but sees no advantage to residents of the Mid Kent Line from the replacement of their current full size train service to Cannon Street and Charing Cross by a replacement Tube service. Passengers wishing to use the Bakerloo can access it at Charing Cross and when the extension is completed, at Lewisham.

  6. Duncan Martin says:

    I’m probably being naive, since I live 500 miles north of London, but, like another poster in a different thread, I have never understood why a Crossrail hasn’t been planned to take the Charing cross services, dive them underground before or after London bridge, passing under Euston station to resurface after Willesden, taking both the DC and AC services as far as Milton Keynes, thereby leaving space in Euston for HS2.

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