An ambition to upgrade the Elephant & Castle railway station has taken a step forward after initial funding was granted for planning work to be carried out.

Station entrance (c) ianVisits

Due to the expected increased footfall at the station following work on the town centre, Network Rail is looking to improve the station facilities by improving accessibility to all four platforms whilst also creating a larger station concourse and installing ticket gates.

The station currently has four platforms, all accessed by stairs, although the central two platforms share just one staircase. While the stairs are narrow and squashed in places, the ticket hall area has a surprising amount of space which provides the capacity for lifts and ticket gates.

An upgrade of the scale that Network Rail is looking at is estimated to cost around £18 million, but before Network Rail can apply for the full funding package, they need to carry out the planning work to understand the opportunities and problems and realistic costs of the upgrade. Last week, Southwark Council’s cabinet meeting approved providing £350,000 to Network Rail to carry out the initial studies so that “the design is developed in parallel with the implementation of the proposals for Elephant and Castle town centre”

The council funded the package from a share of developer contributions to its Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) which is raised to pay for the implementation of new infrastructure to support the growth of communities.

Although it’s too early to say what the plans would look like, a presentation last year by Benedict O’Looney Architects for The Walworth Society gives an idea of what the likely result might be.

The station would see gatelines added at both entrances and a new step-free ramp added to the historic Elephant Road entrance. The entrance building would also have its heritage restored, and there’s an option in the plans to expand the station entrance by taking over a shop in the arches and rebuilding the entrance sympathetically.

Once in the station, three short lifts would link the ticket hall to the platforms.

At the moment, there isn’t a timeframe for when or even if the station upgrade will take place.

Platforms (c) ianVisits

Stairs and corridor (c) ianVisits

Ticket hall area (c) ianVisits


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  1. L says:

    I want to know why this wasn’t done as part of the Thameslink Programme when every other station in zone 1 saw upgrades.

    • ianVisits says:

      The Thameslink Programme through the central core between Bermondsey diveunder and St Pancras didn’t involve any part of the Sutton loop.

  2. Matt Sawyer says:

    Badly needed, it feels totally cut off from the town. But ticket gates? They just slow down passengers. The thieves just push through them and the honest people get slowed down. Even worse at big stations.

    • Keith says:

      Ticket gates are fairly common these days, and it’s slightly surprising that Elephant & Castle didn’t already have them. I suspect at present the lack of them makes the station popular for fare dodgers.

      Worth taking a look at the plans, which can be found in in the appendix of the PDF. These include two different proposed layout options, with fairly significant changes to the ticket hall layout.

    • Robert says:

      Yes, it’s a dump. But sufficient ticket gates are a necessity, especially in a very mixed and high-crime area like this: it won’t solve the fare dodging problem but i will certainly reduce it.

  3. Johninoz says:

    “An upgrade of the scale that Network Rail is looking at is estimated to cost around £18 million”

    If it is anything like Australia, then if the job would put out to a proper competitive tender to everyone qualified to undertake the work, then the real price would be $9 million. Government tenders always come in at least twice the real price of the job. Too much cream on top for the lackeys.

    • ianVisits says:

      Construction contracts ARE put out to tender and a competitive bidding process takes place – and if you want to track them, the contracts are publically announced on TED.

  4. T says:

    Beggars belief this wasn’t considered an integral part of the E&C development – they literally had a train station with connections to major parts of London next to it and no one thought to incorporate it?

    • ianVisits says:

      Of course they thought about it — but the bulk of the council and developer funding was used to pay for the tube station upgrade. They couldn’t do both at the same time.

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