Depending on how you look at it, the station is either late as it was due to open last year, or early, as the revised opening date had been this autumn.
The £327 million link with its long curving viaduct, new station and provision for a second station will open up the huge Riverside housing development where eventually some 10,000 homes will be built, and later, if permission is granted, another 11,000 homes to the north where provision exists for a second station to be added at Castle Green.
This morning though was the opening day for the new station at Barking Riverside, so long as people got up very early to avoid the heat and be on the first train. The first passenger train to arrive at Barking Riverside arrived at 6:50am – a minute late because of a delay caused by a late running freight train ahead of it at Barking station. There’s a bit of give in the timetable to allow for that, and what was a 3-minute delay at Barking was almost entirely recovered by the time the train arrived at Barking Riverside, and eliminated by the time the train left.
It’s a short ride along the existing railway from Barking station before the old ballast is replaced with brand new concrete and the railway rises up on a long curving viaduct that offers good views across the landscape that will soon be full of housing.
It’s only a few minutes until the train pulls into the wide platforms at Barking Riverside station.
Possibly the most surprising thing about the station is the view it offers of the surrounding area, as it has a very good vantage of the Thames. This is the industrial Thames, but personally, I find it just as appealing to see as the central London river. Be aware that over time, the view will disappear though as the station will eventually be surrounded by the housing that will provide it with passengers, so pay a visit this year to admire the view. If coming for the view from the platforms, I’d suggest an evening visit, as the sun will be behind you when looking out across the river.
As the station is quite high up compared to the current landscape, there are a number of glass walls on the platform to provide windbreaks
Thanks to the timetable alignment, one train arrives at the station about a minute before the other leaves — so this two-platform station is already making full use of both platforms. The station is also designed for future 5-car trains when they are required. Something else the station has two of is lifts. As this is a new station, there’s space to design two lifts into the building, reducing the risk of people arriving and finding there’s no step-free access because a lift is being repaired. There’s also a disability compliant toilet on the pay-side of the ground floor.
There’s space on the ground floor for the obligatory retail outlet, and also a cashpoint machine. There’s also a substantial secure cycle storage space inside that mirrors the space on the other side of the station for the shop.
The station is also double-sided for entrances, with the eastern side currently a long winding walk through a building site for future homes, but the western side is laid out with a new road and cycle lanes with spaces for drop-off taxi/disabled parking and bus stops.
From the outside, the station is a large long rectangular slab that’s visually split into three horizontal slices and that slicing of the architecture helps to create a visual effect of a long low-level station, when in fact it’s quite tall.
The grey steel and glass upper deck sits above a long line of corten steel panels that have a mixed appearance depending on how close you are to terracotta roof tiles from a distance to the perforated steel sheets up close.
At the moment, the landscape around the station is a building site, which gives the area an oddly nostalgic air as it’s a reminder of how the DLR often felt when it was being first being built. It’s how transport should be done though, built the infrastructure first and then the housing will follow, along with the schools and shops and GP surgeries. That’s what’s happening at Barking Riverside, as a new railway enables the construction, over time, of over 20,000 new homes.
Although most of the land around the station is a building site waiting for housing, to the north of the riverside, housing was built years ago in expectation of transport links that never arrived, they’ve had a couple of decades of broken promises that have now at long last been delivered.
Barking Riverside is finally on the map.
The station opened to passengers this morning, but because of the heatwave, the official opening that was to happen later today has been delayed to a day when the weather won’t melt the ceremonial ribbon before it can be cut. So, just like the Queen, Barking Riverside station will have two birthdays.