St Pancras International station is looking at how it can expand its capacity to handle more passengers and is commissioning architects to provide suggestions about how to do that.

St Pancras station (c) ianVisits

HS1, the company that operates St Pancras station, says Eurostar aspires to grow its passenger throughput capacity from 1,800 passengers an hour to 2,700 passengers an hour by 2025.

To handle that growth, the station will need to be upgraded.

HS1 also notes that as the station and track operator, it’s “agnostic about where international growth comes from”, but needs to make plans for increased passenger numbers, regardles of where they come from.

Before the pandemic, HS1 had already carried out various architectural studies looking at how international growth could be accommodated, but says that those studies need to be reconsidered, in light of changing passenger growth assumptions and improvements in travel technology.

The architectural competition is looking for ideas to improve passenger flow in the station to reduce bottlenecks and how they can speed how fast passengers move from waiting to catching a train, to being on it.

In 2016, an interim change was introduced to create more waiting room space in the station, and the latest review will seek to build on that.

At this stage, it’s just a consultation exercise, seeking views from architects on how to improve the station. The ideas will become public only when a shortlist is chosen. The changes only affect the international area of the station and won’t affect domestic rail travel.

The tender documents are here.

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16 comments
  1. Mike Jones says:

    Eurostar have spent the last 30 years milking their “franchise”.

  2. Julian Walker says:

    Certainly Eurostar have been unambitious when it comes to new destinations and appear to have been content to treat their Paris and Brussels routes as cash cows. However they haven’t been helped by the UK’s attitude to border controls, and by the Treaty of Canterbury which makes security screening mandatory for everyone who uses the Channel Tunnel.

    • ChrisC says:

      And definitly not helped by the additional border processes since Brexit. So much so that has severely limited the passenger numbers they can carry. IIRC 30% less because of the lack of space post immigration.

      But the EU also wants border controls so it’s not just because of the UK.

      As to new destinations they added Amsterdam which is a popular route (I think it’s 4 trains a day now). Once the new expanded passport control / security area opens at Centraal passenger numbers will increase as the current ‘terminal’ is very limited in the numbers they can process.

      Other direct routes depend on whether or not border control and security can be provided at the other European Station

  3. Paul says:

    @Julian Walker
    Was it the Treaty of Canterbury? I remember travelling on Eurostar in the 1990s and it’s a long time ago, but I’m pretty sure there was no security screening then. From my memory it was only introduced after September 11th 2001.

    I don’t think Le Shuttle users are required to exit and empty their cars for security screening either, so I can’t see how it can be mandatory for all tunnel users; it seems to me like passenger rail is being unfairly singled out for security theatre – and other options might be more effective.

    • John Abson says:

      There is some scanning of motor cars at least underneath them/ some of them but nowhere the level for Eurostar passengers

      And as regards teminal ‘facilities’ for Eurostar at Ebbsfleet, Ashford and Calais Frethun these are now but a happy memory with no ne trains calling.

  4. Chris Rogers says:

    The eurostar’s lounge is too small and always was. It’s about the same size as Waterloo was and that was too small too. Operations are squeezed into an awkward space between the road and general concourse and its hard to see how much more could be done

  5. Robert Coppins says:

    This is shocking.

    There are unused stations that can be re-opened. This, with ticket pricing to encourage those outside of london to travel to the stations outside of London, will achieve the throughput at a fraction of what this will cost.

    Ashford, with its huge departure lounge and Ebsfleet must re-open and return the benefits to areas other than London that were promised when the countryside was ripped up to provide these routes.

    When will the government intervene? Would it be as acceptable for a national rail company to close a staion in such a way?

    • ChrisC says:

      Ebbsfleet and Ashford International can’t reopen for international service without both UK and French Immigration officers being assigned to them.

      If HMG instructed Eurostar to operate trains to/from Ashford and Ebbsfleet their response would be ‘when are you going to supply border force officers’?

    • David Riddle says:

      As a resident of East Kent I must agree with Robert. It is absolutely ridiculous for people here to have to travel for up to 90 minutes just to get to St Pancras and then come all the way back, sometimes on exactly the same HS1 track, just to take a train from Ashford International.

  6. E says:

    Eurostar trains are leaving at pancras without being full as there simply isn’t the room to process a full train with post Brexit border checks. This plan is partly to help remedy that, and partly to encourage other operators (Deutsche Bahn for example). A major reconfiguration will be needed including greater use of the platform space and probably the removal of some retail to accomodate this. There may be a need to reconsider passenger flow too.

    St pancras will likely also have half an eye on technological solutions like e gates to help speed things up. Long overdue

  7. Sean says:

    I was there just last week and there were zero seats available in the lounge and a lot of people standing until the train just before ours finally opened its platform. Even then it was incredibly cramped.

    It’s difficult to know how they could expand that space, there’s only really the domestic retail that could be eaten into but they’re quite narrow units in themselves. Maybe some sort of mezzanine solution but that would probably make it feel even more cramped. Perhaps it’s as simple as opening the platforms earlier while the train’s being set up. Would be interested to see what they eventually decide on.

  8. David Heathcote says:

    If you think boarding the Eurostar train at STP is bad as an able-bodied person, just consider the plight of disabled passengers! Eurostar refuses to allow wheelchair passengers even a few seconds’ early access to the carriage. The result is a queue of impatient travellers forming while the unfortunate semi-ambulant person is trying to heave themselves out of the way! Eurostar have gone some way to alleviating the situation by granting a free upgrade to Premium Economy to the wheelchair user and their companion, but Premium Economy passengers can get just as impatient! (Eurostar are not subject to the same rules regarding the treatment of disabled passengers as other train operating companies in the UK: the Gallic shrug is well practised! Yet Eurostar staff at Gare du Nord are lovely!)

  9. T Morrison says:

    It is not just Eurostar London. Paris and Brussels are grim, not enough seating if a train is delayed and minimal refreshment choice available once you are through the gate.

    Paris Eurostar appears to want to punish anyone who wishes to travel to the UK.

  10. J Barber says:

    I seem to remember when the channel tunnel was being built we were promised dedicated through trains from a terminal near Manchester. Maybe they could resurrect that, so I don’t have to use the overnight Megabus.

  11. John Abson says:

    And Yes indeed a Eurostar Depot was built at Manchester now used by WCML. Went the same way as the sleepers.

  12. jamesup says:

    I find this problem really interesting. Lots of things you could do:

    Close the 1st floor of the station and make that the arrivals area, then the existing arrivals area can be used as a second (Brussels?) departure lounge.

    Close the 1st floor of the station and make that the/an departures area, glass floor the current lightwell to the shopping area. Creating huge area for security, check in, lounge.

    Remove the shopping area at the north of the station and add another departure/arrival area there.

    Remove the carpark at the far north of the station and add departure/arrival facilities there.

    Change servicing arrangements so trains are waiting in the platform an hour before and you board straight onto the train after checking in.

    Making much better use of the stratford, ebbsfleet and ashford platforms.

    Excited to see what they come up with.

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