“It’s probably fair to say that it’s not been easy. Everything fits in only one place, and almost everything had to happen at a very specific time. Frankly, this station was some kind of infernal jigsaw.”

– Rob Lines, Project Manager for Network Rail

Last weekend saw work at Blackfriars station reach a significant milestone, with the end of weekend and evening blockades and the opening of the new bay platforms. In addition to the return of various FCC services at night and at the weekend, this also meant that the new Southeastern service to Sevenoaks could begin, and the new FCC service to Sutton can start next Sunday. From a passenger perspective this will effectively mark the completion of the Blackfriars rebuild project, although some repair and finishing work on the bridge will still take place post-Olympics. In essence, this means that one of the most complex terminal rebuilds in London has now finally come to a close.

Whilst the impressive work at Kings Cross to the north has attracted a great deal of attention in recent months, it is arguably Blackfriars that represents the greater engineering achievement. Over the last three years the station has essentially been completely reworked, impressive given the station’s restricted site on the north bank of the Thames and the need to maintain as full a service as possible through the station at all times. Indeed in some ways the restrictions brought about by Blackfriars location have been turned into advantages – the new station spans the Thames, becoming the first London station to do so, and adds a new exit on the south bank that is already being used by almost one third of all passengers to the station.

As this article will show, however, bringing this new station into being has not been a simple exercise.

Spanning History

Originally opened as St Pauls in 1886, the station took its name from the railway bridge itself – St Pauls Railway Bridge, a wrought iron bridge designed by Henry Marc Brunel (son of Isambard) and Sir John Wolfe-Barry (more famous for a certain bascule bridge further downstream). The station saw the London, Chatham & Dover move its terminal to the north bank of the Thames. Services had originally terminated just south at Blackfriars Bridge, which became goods-only when St Pauls opened.

Tower Bridge, John Wolfe Barry's more famous proposal

Tower Bridge, John Wolfe Barry’s more famous proposal

The rationalisation of the railways after WW1 and the creation of Southern meant that Blackfriars (as it was finally renamed in 1937) gradually became more of a suburban terminal, as intercity services began to be increasingly consolidated into Waterloo. This shift in focus, combined with the gradual deterioration of the infrastructure, led to Blackfriars being extensively rebuilt in the 1970s. This was followed, in the 1980s, by the demolition of St Pauls Railway Bridge itself and the complete shift of traffic to the current Blackfriars Railways Bridge immediately to the east. This moved the focus of the railway slightly eastwards, with the supporting piers and the southern abutment of the original St Pauls bridge left in place. The abutment was Grade II listed, but the piers were retained largely because removing them from the Thames would have been a costly exercise.

The original bridge piers, via Wikipedia

The original bridge piers, via Wikipedia

Expanding the Bridge

In order to fully understand the work that has taken place on Blackfriars as part of the Thameslink Programme, it’s important to understand the infrastructure legacy of all the above. Blackfriars had limited space for expansion to the north and one bridge, but – as much through luck as judgement – also an entire set of “spare” piers. Thameslink needed a reworked layout and longer platforms. The decision was made, therefore, to use the old St Pauls piers to widen the bridge and expand the station southwards out over the Thames. As an additional benefit, this would allow a southern entrance to be constructed, giving passengers a direct exit onto the southern side of the river for the first time.

The New Layout

The New Layout

The image above gives a good idea as to the general change in both track and platform layout that the rebuild has brought about on the bridge itself. What it doesn’t necessarily convey, however, is the complexity involved in putting this into place. The need to maintain a running (if not fully served) railway throughout the process meant that closing the bridge entirely during the rebuild wasn’t possible. As a result the work had to take place in stages, with the eastern half of the bridge redeveloped first whilst rail traffic continued to run on the west.

Rebuilding the eastern half

Rebuilding the eastern half

In order to accommodate the new platforms without changing the track layout too much, the bridge also still needed to be widened to the east, even if it was not as much as to the west. With no handily placed spare piers on the eastern side of the bridge, the decision was made instead to remodel the existing eastern piers to support the additional structure. Concrete shoes were thus cast and added to the bases, upon which the additional ribs required to support the platforms were then placed. The ribs themselves needed to be individually engineered, as each spandrel at Blackfriars is unique.

The concrete shoes in place

The concrete shoes in place

Lifting ribs into place

Lifting ribs into place

Beneath the new bridge deck

Beneath the new bridge deck

Steelwork within the spandrels

Steelwork within the spandrels

Mother Thames

The above exercise may sound relatively straightforward. Look closer at the photos of the process above, however, and you’ll see hints as to why Blackfriars was an incredibly complex project – all this work took place above the Thames – a working, and importantly tidal river.

The impact that the Thames had on the nature, and complexity, of the work undertaken is difficult to underestimate. Beyond the obvious difficulties that come from working over major river traffic, the tidal nature of the Thames made heavy lifting difficult, as it could not be performed from the bridge deck. Lifting required the use of barges as lifting platforms – a process tricky enough without the ebb and flow of the river’s tide.

Indeed the tide also meant the need for some lateral thinking in relation to other elements of the work on the eastern side. In order to expand the piers, the existing facings needed to be removed. These extended below the high tide point though, and so simply surrounding them with a scaffold structure on which the work could be carried out wasn’t possible. The solution was to create a movable platform from which the work could be carried out – one that could be raised or lowered depending on the level of the river.

Removing the eastern pier facings

Removing the eastern pier facings

Similar problems affected the process of putting the concrete shoes into place for the new eastern ribs. Their shape and weight meant that casting them in place would have been by far the preferred solution on a bridge elsewhere, but the pier bases on which they sat were below the high tide point. Given the previously mentioned difficulties involved in heavy lifting from the surface of the Thames, lifting was far from an ideal alternative. In the end, the decision was thus made to build a casting platform for each section on the piers themselves but well above the water line. This allowed the concrete shoes to effectively be cast in situ, and then placed via a controlled drop.

Dropping the shoes into place

The Bridge Slide

As the “before and after” diagram towards the top of this article shows, the new layout for Blackfriars effectively saw the bay platforms flipped from the east to the west. By changing the path the track takes onto the bridge, however, this changed the load dispersal pattern on the short bridge that connected the existing station infrastructure to Blackfriars Bridge itself on the northern bank. This resulted in the construction of a new bridge section, with safeguarded space for platform width expansion, being slid into place over the Christmas blockade in 2009/2010.

The new bridge, pre-slide

The new bridge, pre-slide

Looking West

The track was finally slewed to the east over the Christmas blockade in 2010/2011. From this point, work began on the western half of the bridge. Here, the bridge structure was expanded outwards, with the nearest of the original piers being used to support the extra weight.

The work on the old piers at night

The work on the old piers at night

Whilst the presence of the piers made expanding westward easier, it also meant that the entire bridge deck needed to be relaid. This was not a complex process, but it was a lengthy one – especially given the presence of the live railway on the eastern half of the bridge. Ultimately this was carried out in a north to south sweep, with the graphic below giving a general idea as to the process.

Laying the bridge deck

Laying the bridge deck

With the bridge deck laid, the new bay platforms could be built. It is these that came into play last weekend, and the photos below show them shortly before completion. As has been commented elsewhere, in comparison to many other London terminals (particularly the reworked Kings Cross) Blackfriars features a low ceiling. This is sadly a necessity, brought about by the protected sight lines to St Pauls. Having checked with the engineering team, however, we can confirm that they are high enough (just) to allow OHLE. One additional consequence of the low, flat roof over the new platforms has been sufficient space to include an extensive range of solar panels. Whether these will provide the 40% of station power figure quoted by Network Rail remains to be seen. It’s a welcome development in looking to creatively use the space nonetheless.

The new bays, looking south

The new bays, looking south

Looking up the bays

Looking up the bays

319-422, in the bay to check platform clearances

319-422, in the bay to check platform clearances

Work on the panels earlier this year

Work on the panels earlier this year

Protecting the Underground

The purpose of this article is largely to highlight some of the complex – and interesting – engineering that has taken place at Blackfriars as part of its rebuild. As a result, we’ll take a more detailed look inside the new northern and southern entrances at a later date. One final element of the project worth looking at here, however, is the work carried out over the District Line during the rebuild of the northern terminal.

As we have covered before, the work on Blackfriars necessitated the temporary uncovering of the District Line station below. In order to allow work to continue without disruption to the Line, a steel Track Protection Structure was erected through which trains ran whilst work continued above.

The Track Protection Structure (TPS)

The Track Protection Structure (TPS)

The diagram above gives a good idea as to the nature of the TPS. Essentially, it featured a series of steel arches sitting on top of a steel base anchored to the platform.

The TPS in place

With the TPS in place, the new steelwork for the structure above could be built around the District Line without disrupting the service pattern. This work was carried out with relative ease, although the shape of the site meant that it was impossible to lift the concrete support bars above the tunnel directly into place. As a result these were lifted onto one end and then, as with the connecting bridge above, slid into position.

The supporting structure takes shape

The supporting structure takes shape

Finishing the Job

As was indicated at the beginning of this article, Blackfriars is still not complete – although from a passenger perspective there is little left to be done. With the Olympics looming large, however, much of the remaining work will be deferred until after this summer’s giant School Sports Day. The majority of the engineering challenges have, however, already been met. We will visit Blackfriars again in the near future to look briefly at the new entrances on both north and south banks, but in infrastructure terms at least, it seems fair to say that Blackfriars is now essentially ready to face the future.

jump to the end
There are 78 comments on this article
  1. Kit Green says:

    I believe that the old western bridge did not serve Blackfriars as it was the line to Holborn Viaduct.
    The track layout is seen in this picture that was taken from Ludgate Hill Station.

    Was the eastern bridge really rebuilt in the 70s / 80s as suggested above, as I don’t remember this?

  2. John Bull says:

    I’m pretty certain I’m right in my order of bridge events and the setup, but I’ll happily admit that bit was based off of memory. I’m completely happy to be corrected/change it though if people say I’m wrong.

  3. swirlythingy says:

    Given that the article states outright that Blackfriars was blockaded during evenings and weekends, I don’t think you can accurately say that the project had a “need to maintain the maximum number of services through the station at all times”. The later mentioned “need to maintain a running (if not fully served) railway” is closer.

    When you say “London Dover & Chatham”, do you mean “London Chatham & Dover”?

    Also, can you explain exactly (or point to a previous article about) why the tube station needed to be dug up? Here it just gets brushed off with, “As we have covered before, the work on Blackfriars necessitated…”.

  4. Pedantic of Purley says:

    John Bull is correct about the new Blackfriars Bridge being built in the 80’s but he got the century wrong.

    To be clear. The orginal bridge (the western one on top of the red piers) was removed in the 1980’s as some of us remember. It had not been used for years and was becoming a dangerous structure as well as being unsightly.
    The “new” bridge was built in 1864 according to Alan A. Jackson in his book “London’s Termini” which I often refer to for reference even though published in 1969.

    The history around this area is very complicated and interesting (and confusing) and probably justifies at least one article on its own.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Tower Bridge is down stream from Blackfriars

  6. Ratty says:

    I had a look around on Saturday. There is still a lot of work to do. It’s largely aesthetic, but it’s still a lot of work.

  7. NLW says:

    Difficult to over-estimate?

  8. Greg Tingey says:

    Two valuable books for reference on this subject.
    one is Jackson’s London Termini, as mentioned.
    The other is the classic by Betjeman & Gay, with photos and wonderful description by Betjeman.
    But, by the end of the 60’s. with the SNow Hill through route closed, Blackfriars was really decaying, and Holborn Viaduct was incredibly tatty.
    I’ll probaly go and have alook soon.
    The new timetabling arrangements, in themseleves might merit a short piece from someone?

  9. John Bull says:

    Yup, upon investigation (now that I’m home and have access to the bookshelves) you’re right – it appears that up until now I’ve had a complete mental mis-picture of the bridges at Blackfriars. How embarrassing. Pedantic is right, there’s an article in the history there itself.

    Should hopefully read a bit better now (and I’ve fixed the various typos identified as well). Thanks all.

    @Ratty – indeed. That’s why I thought it best to take this opportunity to focus on the engineering, with a more station-building-focused look inside later on. They’ve definitely still got some polishing to do.

    @swirly – well only the Evening Standard and the occasional London Assembly Member assume that work on this scale can happen without any disruption at all, so “maximum” meant “within realistic expectations.” I’ve rephrased it a bit though now. With regards to previous talk about the Underground element, I’m actually still hunting for the reference myself, which is why its not linked yet – I know we talked about it, but my archive-fu is currently failing me. I didn’t want to hold this article back any longer though as I’m hoping to do the Farringdon one this weekend.

  10. James Bunting says:

    In the context of Blackfriars should not the reference to Waterloo actually read Victoria?

  11. swirlythingy says:

    It now says “…the eastern half of the bridge redeveloped first whilst rail traffic continued to run on the right.” By “right” do you mean “west”?

    There’s also a caption which reads “Removing the easter pier facings”.

  12. timbeau says:

    “the bridge also still needed to be widened to the east,…… With no handily placed spare piers on the eastern side of the bridge, the decision was made instead to remodel the existing western piers to support the additional structure”

    Surely it was the eastern piers that had to be remodelled to accomodate the widening on that side.?

    I pass through Blackfriars occasionally – so far been disappointed that there are no views of the river from the train or platform. I’ll believe it’s finished when the hoardings come down (and when we get the pavement back on the road bridge!)

  13. Djc0207 says:

    Great article once again, thanks!

  14. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Aah. It is so easy to get things wrong or even get them right but type them out wrong. Further to my earlier comment, the eastern bridge was constructed in 1864 but for some reason Blackfriars station (then called St Pauls) was not opened until 1886. Quite why there was such a delay between the bridge being built and the station opening is not explained or even directly commented upon in the book mentioned. However an earlier comment in Alan A. Jackson’s book (London’s Termini) mentions that the London, Chatham and Dover was virtually bankrupt in1866 and this would seem to be the most logical explanation. Indeed poverty is a major reason why the L,C & D was never really able to fully exploit the benefits of owning the only main-line rail artery through central London.

  15. Marc m says:

    Grear article guys. The London terminal’S’ appears to denote a possibility of further articles… Could I request one on cannon street. This redevelopment of one of the most unsightly of London terminals seems not to get any attention to its more glamourous neighbours and would be useful to know when and what improvements are being made to the underground station, beyond the long promised step free access from the westbound circle/district

  16. Anonymous says:

    James – “In the context of Blackfriars should not the reference to Waterloo actually read Victoria?”

    The London and South Western Railway used to run trains into Blackfriars via Herne Hill. When the decision was made to concentrate services from the SW at Waterloo, Blackfriars’s share of inter-city services evaporated.

  17. James Bunting says:

    To [email protected]

    Thank you. My understanding had been that LSWR’s involvement had been for suburban services only. I must obviously go to the library for a reread of Alan Jackson’s book.

  18. Lemmo says:

    The LSWR ran a Richmond-Ludgate Hill service, which then used the Smithfield Sidings just south of Farringdon, more info over at Basilica Fields.

    So what is the potential for the station to be expanded westwards over the remaining bridge piers? It seems sensible to safeguard the space, for more intensive use of the Elephant & Castle route when they grade-separate Herne Hill. To this end, is TfL staking a claim at the southern end of the station which is restricted by the Ludgate House office building… which is currently up for redevelopment, as discussed here here and here .

    Related to this, I’ve been raising the issue of the flat junction at the south end of Blackfriars, which is the key pinch-point on the route. If a northbound service from London Bridge holds up a southbound service to E&C then this delays following services through the core. I wondered if an additional Down platform would help, which would require the terminating lines to be moved westwards.

  19. Fandroid says:

    Blackfriars is an illustration that Network Rail is no longer afraid of doing imaginative things in its projects. Who, back in the days, would have thought of reconstructing a London station right across the Thames? I just happened to be lucky enough to be around Borough Market when the new viaduct was being launched. (We’re clever us engineers!). Thameslink has spawned some amazing engineering. London Bridge will be next. We look forward to the insights of LR into that. London railwaywise, we live in exciting times.

  20. Blackfriar says:

    I always though the plans were really missing a trick by not expanding to use the full width of all the disused piers. A wider station could have accommodated two extra terminus tracks, increasing capacity for peak-hour services to neglected southern suburbs with parking space for trains off-peak. Will there ever be scope to extend further or have they blown all their budget now?

    (Clever idea: they could always brand it “Thameslink 2015”, because that always makes projects happen on time….)

  21. Greg Tingey says:

    Well, I’ve copied some pictures from both Jackson & the Betjeman/Gay book, to show y’all just how ghastly & “decaied” it used to be ….
    But there is no longer a “contact us” pointer (that I can see) on the web-site.
    Someone e-mail me, so I can send them across, please?

    Meantime, I note that FINALLY recostruction of the extra up platforms at Finsbury Park has begun – only about 30 years late, but better than not at all, I suppose.

  22. mr_jrt says:

    One minor sticking point (there’s always at least one!) is that they didn’t take the opportunity to widen the District station to 4 platforms, even just as safeguarding for a future date given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity the Blackfriars rebuild afforded. The potential exists at Mansion House and Tower Hill for such arrangements, then it’s just a case for linking them up.

  23. Saffy says:

    They were still working on the tracks leading up to the bay platforms this morning. As Ratty says up thread, there still looks to be a lot of work to be completed.

  24. Paul says:

    Swirlything raises the point about the tube station. IIRC there were no engineering reasons why the LU station had to be rebuilt, but under the TWA decisions it fell to NR to upgrade the tube station completely to reflect the expected numbers of interchange passengers using the future 24 tph (with many 12 car) Thameslink services.

    This is similar to the work to improve the LU facilities at Farringdon – NR have managed it all (so far) as their plans will lead to more interchanging.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Having inside knowledge, but speaking personally…

    The trickiest bit for me was the deck that sits both under the original track alignment and the present one – there were two temporary bridges introduced that had to be removed and reinstated a number of times. Not only that, the new deck is at a different level so these bridges had to be modified every time. We also had to introduce “ladder” bridges that could allow concrete to be poured through big gaps between the rails. The bridge designers (Tony Gee) should be congratulated for an innovative and can-do attitude (and no I don’t work for them!)

    The eastern bridge was redecked in the 70’s, meaning some people have worked on the bridge twice in their career. For others, they feel that they’ll be back before retirement…

    The train road alongside the route to London Bridge will be converted in the future to a down line, so London Bridge trains will be able to skirt around an (8 car) E&C service “trapped” between the up spur and train road, mitigating some of the flat junction issues.

    Not only should passive provision have been made for at least one extra (bay) platform here, but for two more (through) platforms at St Pancras. The lines south of Blackfriars junction are woefully underused – from what I can work out they have the lightest use of any central London railway (4 tracks, ~14TPH in 2018). Unfortunately the development proposals for Ludgate House and Sampson House sound like they’ll preclude it for good. In theory the 2 bays can deliver 12 car trains at 10TPH – probably more than Herne Hill or Denmark Hill can deliver in the short-medium term. Approaching from the west via Canterbury road is unlikely to ever happen – you’d compromise the Southeastern Victoria service too much. Anything that doesn’t come from Denmark Hill or London Bridge is at a huge disadvantage for going through to St Pancras so I wouldn’t hold out much hope for that.

    Finally, Herne Hill not only needs grade separating but lengthening to 12 car, or at least provision made for it. The only way I can see to achieve this is to go straight on at Tulse Hill, then turn left after Knight’s Hill tunnel, knowing down the garages to run 4 track into Herne Hill. There is sufficient length for a few crossovers southeast of the station, but then I think the north juntion could be largely removed. This should also allow platform extensions at Tulse Hill as the north junction flexibility requirements are significantly reduced. As an aside, I always questioned why the long siding was shoe-horned in alongside platform 4 rather than on the run between Loughborough Jn and Herne Hill – there’s still space.

  26. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Mr__jrt, Never mind not extending District to four platforms. I cannot see the point personally and even assuming that you could do the same at Mansion House and Tower Hill (I doubt it) the comment “it is just a matter of linking them up” rather trivialises the real issue – and even then what have you usefully achieved ?

    More critically, they didn’t even extend the platforms beyond their current length. So I suspect S7 stock will have to use SDO at Blackfriars as D6 stock only just fits. Even if S7 does somehow squeeze in, I find it incredible not to have taken advantage of the opportunity to extend the platforms whilst they could have. Space for both temporary and permanent equipment at Underground stations always seems to be tight anyway so it is unlikely that newly created space is ever wasted.

    I understand that there was the issue of a weak sewer (the Fleet ? ) that was desirable to be dealt with and I understand that they did at least take advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to rectify this.

  27. Fandroid says:

    A lot of folk here are asking why not 4 platforms at Blackfriars, Mansion House, Tower Hill LU stations and ditto at St Pancras Thameslink? What operational reasons would there be for such generous provision?

    It’s interesting to hear that the Blackfriars- Loughborough Junction 4-track is the least heavily used example in London. Perhaps there’s capacity for the dreamed-of extra station(s) south of the Elephant with a Metro service to suit? But then, it would probably need those extra bay platforms at Blackfriars to allow that to happen.

    With NR having paid for all the LU modifications at Farringdon, perhaps they could tell TfL to remove all those blinking LU roundels from the Thameslink platforms!

  28. Anonymous says:

    might be a bit slow here, but what would the new southeastern services to sevenoaks consist of, weekends only? what stations called at? any help? thanks =]

  29. StephenC says:

    Its true that the E&C route is very underused, but it does point to a different way to look at enhancing London’s rails. As well as drawing up a map of the most congested lines, draw up a similar coloured map of underused lines. Then work out how to increase the usage of those underused lines.

    On the E&C route, new stations at Walworth and Camberwell on a London Overground service to Lewisham and Charlton might well be a viable project.

    At Herne Hill I agree that the best approach for southbound is to stay north of the Bromley route and then tunnel around to the east side of Tulse Hill via a single bore tunnel next to Knights Hill Tunnel. Since I believe very strongly in cross platform interchanges, I’d keep the northbound on the current route, with a flyover at the NW side of Herne Hill itself where there is a little more land.

    I’m also interested in Ludgate/Sampson house as they’d make a great location for an underground station (or even tunnel portal) on the Swanlink proposed line from Waterloo to Liverpool Street .

  30. Lemmo says:

    @ Anonymous 10.02, interesting to hear about some of the engineering challenges and successes.

    I don’t quite understand your description of the new junction layout. Are you saying that the Down line will split immediately south of the platforms, providing space for an 8-car southbound E&C train to pull forward and wait for the junction to clear, allowing a following London Bridge service to enter the platform and then depart using the new loop?

    Also, are you saying that it will now be impossible to provide additional bay platforms?

    On that, did anyone go to the public exhibition for the plans for Ludgate House ? I’m keen to hear whether TfL are trying to safeguard a wider alignment at the south end of Blackfriars for further bay platforms.

    I agree with you, the 4-track route up from Loughborough Jn is woefully underutilised, a terrible waste of infrastructure. Herne Hill grade-separation will free up paths both on this and the Southeastern route to Victoria, and a 12tph metro service into the bay platforms. Presumably then the existing Tulse Hill-Herne Hill section would no longer be needed, but the pinch-point then becomes the 2-track section through Knight’s Hill, shared with London Bridge services.

  31. Greg Tingey says:

    I’m still suprised that the Blackfriars layout didn’t have the bay platforms in the middle, with the through roads on the outside?
    Would the old river columns have been capable of carring extra weight again (with reinforcement/modification)?
    If so, then you could then have had 4 bays – 2 in the middle, and one on each outer side.

  32. Anonymous says:

    If you had the bay platforms in the middle then Up through trains via London Bridge would be crossing the Up and Down lines to/ from Elephant and Castle – My understanding is that the demands of providing a 24 trains per hour peak service through the Thameslink Core would make that highly undesirable, adding an unnecessary potential confounding factor.

  33. metrication says:

    What are the chances of the Wimbledon loop being taken over by London Overground? It would seem a good candidate, there’s scope for new interchanges if there’s the cash (Loughborough junction with the ELL extension, as well as the northern line depot being just metres from Morden South). All services round the loop won’t go beyond Blackfriars after 2016 anyway, meaning no train on it will ever travel outside Greater London again. I’m aware there is talk of Tramlink extensions to Sutton and Tooting possibly based on part of it, but that’s been in discussion for so long I can’t believe it’ll ever happen. Also LO would be much cheaper to implement. Perhaps this is but a pipe dream though…

  34. timbeau says:

    An LO Wimbledon loop is a nice idea, but the route is completely isolated from the existing LO network. The present South London line passes over Loughborough Junction but there is no station on the SLL, and the physical connections from the Blackfriars direction are with the ex LCDR Cambria lines at Canterbury Road junction nd Cambria Road Junction, rather than with the LBSC Atlantic line to be used by LO

    High level platforms at Loughborough Junction are unlikely – ,and I cannot see a major traffic flow that such an interchange would allow that isn’t alread catered for – there are already services catering for such flows

    Elephant – Peckham via Denmark Hill (SE trains)
    Elephant – Clapham HS (Northern Line)
    Chatham Main line to Peckham (via Catford Loop)
    Tulse Hill – Peckham (via East Dulwich)
    That only leaves the Herne Hill/Tulse Hill to Clapham HS axis, which would be better served by high level platforms at Brixton.

    A thought: what might make some sense is to extend the LO West Croydon service to Sutton, Wimbledon, Tulse Hill and Blackfriars. Possibly also the Crystal Palace service to Tulse Hill and Blackfriars. This would leave Southern to keep the service via Mitcham Junction

  35. Fandroid says:

    A Blackfriars based LO service via the Wimbledon loop would be isolated from the rest of the LO network, but I’m not sure that matters except in some purist minds. It is connected to the Tube at Blackfriars, Elephant & Castle and Wimbledon and to Tramlink at Mitcham Junction. That would be enough for new potential passengers to understand how it connects into the TfL ‘turn up and go’ Metro network.

    As has already been mentioned, a ‘simple’ enhancement to connectivity could be done by some fiddling with the Northern Line at Morden depot to provide an interchange to the ‘loop’ station at South Morden.

    The hitch may be the availability of paths for a true Metro service between Streatham South Junctions and Sutton and capacity through other junctions. However, there has always been a lot of London Reconnections interest in the Wimbledon Loop becoming part of LO, so perhaps we should officially sponsor the idea with TfL!

  36. ChrisMitch says:

    I’d love the Wimbledon loop to be taken over by LO. Once it starts terminating at Blackfriars, there seems no logical reason to include it in the FCC franchise. It is also wholly within Greater London, and could do with a more frequent service than 2 trains per hour.

  37. Anonymous 10:02 again says:

    My comments about 4 platforms at St Pancras come for the following reason: a metro service relies on each station stop taking the same time – which is not always true. Let’s do some maths: Thameslink 12 car trains operating at 1m/s^2 braking and acceleration (moderately harsh but not unachievable, especially for a route that’s not fully subsurface) take 30 seconds to enter or leave the platforms (assuming a platform and overlap length of 300m, a linespeed of 30mph (i.e. 14m/s) and constant acceleration). Trains will be timetabled a nominal 2:30 apart (24TPH), so removing the platform entrance and exit time that leaves an absolute maximum of 90 seconds stationary. At Blackfriars, City Thameslink and Farringdon this may be achievable. At St Pancras, with all those continental tourists with their suitcases and a major London terminal upstairs, 90 seconds is looking less and less achievable. Therefore, the 4 platforms come into play, allowing a train to dwell for longer while leaving the sausage machine that is the Thameslink core free to pump trains through. Mid platform signals and/or ATO will act to increase the possible dwell time, but 90 seconds is an over-estimation already so it appears fair. Think London Bridge platforms 4 and 5 receiving trains from Borough Market – dwell time is easily over 90 seconds but yet it copes with 28TPH. The entry points must swing hundreds of times a day to achieve that. On a more conventional tube line the dwell time can be longer for two reasons: linespeeds are slightly higher (I think), but more importantly the trains are much, much shorter.

    Gut feel is that the Ludgate/Sampson development will screw every last penny out of the site, and will need a hefty political intervention to make the safeguarding happen. Junctions take too much space (even at 20mph) – you’d be rebuilding a wedge equivalent to ~50% of the viaduct that has already been removed. I would think the north and south banks and bridge structure itself would be relatively easy to sort out, but the footings in the river will be megabucks. I would think if it is safeguarded it will be sat on until the next Thameslink project, then the whole station staged westwards to keep it more open than during the project just gone, although the final (through) alignment will end up back where it is now.

    As others have said, without grade separation elsewhere central bay platforms do not work. If there was only a two track approach it may work. On a more practical note, there is nowhere for passengers to go at the northern end of the station if the through tracks went round the outsides – the barrier line (to be) is in mid air over the road. Note from the layout diagrams above the station is now further south than north – a stopped train now sits on spans 1-4 whereas before it was sitting on spans 4, 5 and the north bank.

  38. timbeau says:

    To James Bunting

    The LSWR services to Blackfriars

    according to my copy of Jackson’s book, the chronolgy is as follows
    June 1864 – original Blackfriars station opened (on south bank)
    Dec 1864 – four tracks opened across the bridge to Ludgate Hill
    Jan 1866 – extension to Farringdon opened
    march 1866 – Kingston to Ludgate Hill service started (via Richmond and Factory Junction)
    January 1869 – Kingston service replaced by two new services:
    Richmond – Turnham Green – Addison Road – Factory Junction – Ludgate Hill and
    Wimbledon – Tooting – Tulse Hill – Ludgate Hill
    There were also through services from the LCDR to the GNRand the Midland via the Widened Lines, including services from Victoria to Barnet, Hendon and South Tottenham
    1871 – services to Moorgate started
    March 1874 – Holborn Viaduct opened as an overflow terminus for Ludgate Hill, with short platforms intended for the City portions of long distance trains (which divided at Herne Hill). Trains for HV passed Ludgate Hill on a new spur branching off the old line south of the station.
    August 1874 – Holborn Viaduct Low level opened.
    1878 – SER connection to London Bridge opened – through services between the GNR and SER ran non-stop over the LCDR section beacuse of the acrimonious situation between the LCDR and SER
    1885 – Blackfrairs (south bank) closed
    1886 – east bridge and St Pauls built (renamed Blackfriars in 1937). Three new terminal platforms, plus two on a new loop off the old line

    “Most of the main line trains to and from HV called at St P, as did all the local trains, except those between Moorgate and Victoria. StP was also the terminus for the City portions of Gravesend and Greenwich Park services, The LSWR trains continued to terminate at Ludgate Hill, working foirwqard to Snow Hill sidings. Trains routed through St Pauls were obliged to use the main line platforms at Ludgate Hill, but those using the original liones to and from Snmow Hill or Holborn Viaduct could be diurected through either the main or local platforms [at LH].”

    1907 – end of GNR services
    1908 – end of Midland services
    1912 – main line platform at Ludgate Hill removed, local platform widened
    1916 – all passenger services through the Snow Hill tunnel ceased, also the LSWR and Victoria services
    1919 – Ludgate Hill opened only in peak hours
    1925 – most suburban services electrified, cease to call at LH (platforms too short for 8-car trains)
    1929 – Wimbledon service electrified , caseses to call at LH which is closed
    1961 – old (west) Thames bridge reduced to double track

    The last paragraph of this section of Jackson’s book (written in 1969) makes interesting reading in view of subsequent developments

    “The fate of the Metropolitan Extension north of the river is uncertain. The County of London Plan of 1944 proposed that it be placed in tunnel, but desirable as this might be on aesthetic grounds, such an operation would be fabulously expensive and is unlikely to be undertaken. At gthe time ofd writing consideration is being given to the ;possibility of providing main-line elctrified links across the centre of London, and in any such scheme, these lines would play an important part. It is not impossible that future generations will see the construction of a new Ludgate Hill station, replacing both Holborn Viaduct and Blackfriars, and served by electric trains working between north and south London outer area stations”

    When I first read that, in about 1982, (when I was a daily commuter into Holborn Viaduct), I thought that to be a wild flight of fantasy, but thirty years later it has all come true, apart from the fact that the new stations only replaced HV – not Blackfriars.
    “the fate

  39. Greg Tingey says:

    Meanwhile, can everyone else see just how grim it was in 1970-1, when John Gay took his photos of Blackfriars?

  40. Lemmo says:

    Thanks timbeau, and let’s hope Herne Hill grade-separation (and other infrastructure investments) will allow some of these services to be resurrected.

    For those interested in the subterranean maze of sidings and depots in the Farringdon area, there’s a fabulous plan HERE from Basilica Fields. The Smithfield Sidings used by the LSWR trains are in the bottom right corner of the diagram, accessed from the south. They ran alongside part of the extensive Farringdon GN goods depot but were not connected to them. They include some sort of table/plate for reversing locos… I wonder if any remains still exist down there?

    The signalling diagrams below clarify the complex track layouts:

    Smithfield Sidings and Snow Hill
    Ludgate Hill and Holborn Viaduct
    Blackfriars (PDF)

  41. mr_jrt says:

    My point about a current utility of 4 platforms at Blackfriars LU without line widening is the same as described above for St. Pancras by Anon., namely that it enables longer dwell times at major interchanges, which Thameslink surely is.

  42. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @mr_jrt, A fair point and in the right place it could make a dramatic difference. It would certainly be helpful at St. Pancras Thameslink – especially as there will be a critical non-conflicting junction just north of the station from 2018. If only we could have two northbound platforms at Victoria for the reason you describe. If you read the Victoria Station Upgrade public enquiry documents this was seriously looked at but the current curves and layout precluded an acceptable solution. However if it is not a critical station then it just adds cost and complexity without achieving anything. In Follenfant’s book, Reconstructing London’s Underground, such a feature was taken away from South Kensington because it achieved nothing.

    In chess there is a maxim “castle because you want to and castle because you have to but don’t castle because you can do” and sometimes public transport enhancements are like that. I get the impression that often people suggest enhancements because an opportunity becomes available and not because they are needed or the best use of money. Of course the distinction between a missed opportunity and a needless extravagance because it was possible can be a fine line. King’s Cross Underground Northern Ticket hall was probably one of those times when mercifully the opportunity was taken despite the enormous costs (over £400 million) and doubts at the time as to whether this was a wise use of money.

  43. Anonymous says:

    [unneeded comment snipped – JB]

    Very interesting article John, thanks.

  44. Geoff says:

    My understanding is as Timbeau and others
    St Pauls Railway Bridge ( the Wolff-Barry / Brunel 1886 east bridge ) is the one still standing . The first one on red piers designed by Cubitt , built 1864 has gone . I can’t find a reference to its name but I supect it was Blackfriars Rail Bridge to distinguish it from the pre existing road bridge. The LCDC south bank temporary terminus was named Blackfriars Bridge station after the road bridge ( 1st one 1769 ) as the rail bridge hadn’t been completed at that point . Of course this is made all more confusing when St Pauls Station and the Bridge were renamed Blackfriars in 1937 (?) . So at that point both east & west became Blackfriars Bridge.

  45. Ignorant says:

    Sorry for ignorance, but what’s the point of all this? I mean there are no extra tracks at all, just the line has flipped across, the platforms are longer and there’s another exit! If you look on the Thameslink website, there’s just blah blah about extra trains per hour. On an earlier article someone said: “The main aim is to get through trains lined up for London Bridge, and terminating trains lined up for Elephant & Castle”. But why, do we need to get trains lined up for London Bridge? Presumably that’s where the demand for through trains is coming from, rather than little-used local services to E&C?

  46. timbeau says:

    That’s exactly it – the flipping of the through and terminal platforms at Blackfriars, the three extra through platforms at London Bridge, and the Bermondsey diveunder will between them eliminate all three flat junctions that the main Thameslink route to and from the Brighton line currently has to negotiate. The conflicts at these junctions currently restrict the number of trains that can run through London. Blackfriars also needed extensive rebuilding anyway to accommodate the 12-car trains – which is also one of the reasons KXTL was replaced by StPancrasTL.

    The services via E&C are quite crowded, but mainly because they are very infrequent (2 tph each way round the Wimbkledon loop is pathetic for an inner suburban line)

  47. Anonymous says:

    Since the switch over it feels like journey to LBG from Blackfriars is slower than it was before.

  48. Paul says:

    Ignorant, 25th

    Please have a look at this article from 2008 which was one of the last on the predecessor London Connections site:

  49. Fandroid says:

    Us LR commenters may be rooting for a frequent Overground service from Blackfriars onto the Wimbledon Loop, but June’s Modern Railways indicates that FCC are planning through trains from the loop to St Albans on summer Saturday evenings. Those timetable wonks! They just cannot be kept down! There is also some enigmatic mention of half-hourly Sunday services to Blackfriars from Sutton.

    While it’s apparently good to be clever and try to provide for every need, I’m convinced that the way to make big metropolitan public transport work is to have regular unchanging routes at high frequency accompanied by good interchanges.

  50. Kit Green says:

    Anyone would think that Tooting is in the middle of nowhere. First train to St Pancras on a Sunday is after 10.00 and the last return is just after 21.00. Metro this is not.

  51. Paul says:

    The ‘enigmatic’ Blackfriars to Sutton half hourly Sunday service just links to an existing service round the loop from St Albans (via Blackfriars) to Sutton doesn’t it?

    So the difference is that unlike the Mon-Sat service, the loop trains don’t start and finish in St Albans.

    I also assume that what has been touted as the ‘new Blackfriars to Sevenoaks’ Sunday service is just the old service reinstated that has been diverted to Victoria for the last few years of work on the station?

  52. ChrisMitch says:

    I live near Tooting station. If the service was more frequent, it would be great. Frankly most people who get on a train at Tooting don’t care that it goes to St Albans, Luton, or wherever, as long as it goes into London. I would agree strongly with Fandroid – we want a predictable frequent service, rather than multiple destinations.

    My other local station is Mitcham Eastfields. This can have up to 6 trains an hour, but they go to 1 of 3 different London terminals, with almost no subsequent stations in common, making it useless as a metro station – you can still end up waiting 30mins for your train.

    Sigh. If only we were in charge!

  53. Anonymous says:

    For people in Tooting itself the Northern line is generally cheaper, quicker, and just more convenient. And I say that as someone who used to live halfway between Broadway and the railway station, and made regular use of both routes. Unless you specifically wanted Farringdon or a station further north, the tube was the better option regardless of frequency.

    So to say it is served like the middle of nowhere is very unfair. There are a lot of places that would gladly accept a half-hourly National Rail service if it meant they also had a frequent tube one.

    Obviously if you live out towards Mitcham or Streatham the tube station becomes less of an option.

    I do not know if it is the “enigmatic” service Fandroid is referring to, but with the new timetable that has just been introduced, there is now a half-hourly Sunday service running between Blackfriars and Sutton via Hackbridge. This means there is now a half-hourly service on both sides of the loop Blackfriars seven days a week, at least during the times a service operates.

    The service is now (in both directions):

    Luton (Mon-Sat) or St Albans (Sun) to Sutton via Wimbledon
    St Albans (Mon-Sat) or Blackfriars (Sun) to Sutton via Hackbridge

    As an aside, I do miss the old way of giving destinations as Sutton (via Wimbledon) and Wimbledon (via Sutton) though. You knew instantly where a train was going. With it being Sutton regardless of route now you have to pay attention to the small print.

  54. Whiff says:

    It just goes to show that you can’t please all the people all of the time. To me a service of 6 trains an hour going to 3 different terminals sounds ideal.

  55. Fandroid says:

    My info was based on relative personal ignorance (I’m only an occasional casual user of trains in South London) and incomplete info in Modern Railways (in that it didn’t state what the current service is).

    I was also probably jumping ahead of the Thameslink programme. Presumably the cutting back of the Wimbledon Loop service to serve only the Blackfriars bay platforms will not arrive until the full 24 tph is in place through the tunnel. Does anyone know whether this 24 tph ambition only applies to the peak services, or is Wimbledon Loop to St Albans likely to survive outside the peaks and at weekends?

    @whiff – yes 6tph going to 3 terminals sounds great to those willing to get to know all the ins and outs of the railway, but it’s just utterly confusing to those without the detailed knowledge and who want to just turn up and go. (Most people?)

  56. Timmy! says:

    #Paul 05:19PM, 27th May 2012 – thanks for the link.

    Good to know there’s 2 lines to Charing Cross from London Bridge (SouthEastern trains) and 2 lines to Blackfriars from London Bridge (Thameslink). Does anyone know if the loop from Cannon Street to Charing Cross will still exist (they ran a shuttle service a weekend or two ago)?

    Blackfriars is impressive albeit a little awkward at the moment for passengers. It’s a pity the Thameslink Orpington service doesn’t run later or on weekends. Selfishly, I think the more Metro-style services, the better for south London!

  57. peezedtee says:

    The 4-track line through Elephant is indeed underused in the off-peak, but it doesn’t feel like it in the peak, if you stand on Elephant station. Remember there are also a lot of Southeastern ECS workings whizzing through at all sorts of strange hours. I have never quite understood where they are coming from or going to. Does anybody know?

  58. Lemmo says:

    @ Timmy, the west curve at Cannon Street is used for empty carriage stock (ECS) in the peaks, as a way of getting stock into or away from Cannon St while avoiding the busy tracks through London Bridge. The need for this may be reduced when there are six tracks west from London Bridge, i.e. Cannon St, Thameslink and Charing Cross each get a pair of dedicated tracks.

    The ECS movements used a siding right up at the southern end of Blackfriars. In 2018 the intensive Thameslink service commences, and the ECS siding at Blackfriars will become a Down loop for trains to London Bridge (see above Anonymous 10:02am, 23rd May). This may mean the East Curve at Cannon St is no longer used.

    A shuttle service from Charing Cross or Waterloo East is most unlikely as it would have to cross the busy Thameslink tracks at Borough Market Jn west of London Bridge.

    Perhaps with some track reconfiguration at Cannon St they could provide more stabling on the West Curve. Perhaps also they could extend into the old Ewer St depot, but this would depend on whether the narrowest part of the viaduct at Borough Market Jn is wide enough to take five tracks. Whatever, I assume there has to be sufficient length at Ewer St and/or on the Cannon St West curve for 12-car trains.

  59. Timmy! says:

    @ Lemmo. Thanks for the update.

    The route from Cannon Street to Charing Cross was a strange one but was due to engineering work on two/all of the tracks from London Bridge. It was certainly not quicker than the Tube as a route but there were fewer stairs for our pram!

    Given there will be 4 tracks in the future, I presume it’s unlikely a shuttle would run again if engineering work occurred.

  60. Whiff says:

    @Fandroid – I appreciate the potential problems of having a timetable that’s too complex. However, in the original example I think I’m right in saying that Mitcham Eastfields only has trains to 3 terminals during peak hours. I would have thought that most passengers at this time would, therefore, be regulars using the same services at the same time every day and not the ‘turn up and go’ passengers who might be more easily confused.

  61. Anonymous says:

    “To me a service of 6 trains an hour going to 3 different terminals sounds ideal.”

    Presumably you do not care where you end up, then?

    Otherwise such a service pattern is as good as only half-hourly. And even if you could be flexible as to your destination, the return journey requires you to commit to a starting point and be bound by that limitation.

    That said, the peak service at Mitcham Eastfields offers four trains per hour to Victoria, in addition to the half-hourly services to St Albans and to London Bridge. You can also change at Streatham from a St Albans service for a London Bridge one, and vice versa.

    So Mitcham Eastfields effectively provides three different destinations each a with four train per hour service.

    This is hardly useless. Arguably it is better than ideal as it offers both a reasonably frequent service (particularly to Victoria as no change is required) while also offering the convenience of a range of destinations in completely different parts of London.

  62. ChrisMitch says:

    Mitcham Eastfields service is very irregular and unpredictable. If you are a timetable wonk, it is great. But for us average Joes, who turn up and hope, it is hopeless. The service is also asymmetrical – there are definitely NOT 4 trains per hour from Victoria to ME in the evening peak.
    This is why a regular 4 trains per hour all day on all metro routes was part of the mayoral transport aspiration – reliablity and predictability are key for public transport, not range of destinations.

  63. Geoff says:

    To correct and amend my post of the 24th – the original rail bridge ( west bridge on red piers ) was Alexandra Bridge – Joe Browns London Rail Atlas supplied the answer. Named after the Princess of Wales of the day ( Edward VII’s wife )

  64. Ignorant says:

    Do we assume also that the services that the Thameslink currently clashes with will also benefit? I mean the other (Kent communter?) trains that use these flat junctions should benefit from TL being out of the picture, in terms of frequency, reliability or safety?

    (Thanks Paul & timbeau for your earlier answers).

  65. Greg Tingey says:

    I note from elsewhere ( “Railway Eye” ) that the destination stones from Blackfriars ar back on display in the new concourse.

    However, they have NOT put them baack in the original sensible order, which was in individual columns at each side of an entry arch, but as a “solid” block.
    Good try – could do better.

  66. Littlejohn says:

    There is a picture of the destination stones at

  67. Pedantic says:


    I don’t follow. Judging by the picture, no 31, in “Holborn Viaduct to Lewisham” (Mitchell/Smith) and the accompanying description the destination stones were in four individual columns between two entrances – not at each side of an entry arch as you describe it. The ones at the top would have been extremely difficult to read from pavement height. They weren’t much of a feature. It would have been easy to pass by and not notice – especially as they were all black and covered with London grime like the rest of the facade.

    From memory, in the awful 1970’s rebuild they were displayed much as they are now but not in such a magnificent setting.

    Given that the current station is a steel and glass rebuild I do not see what else they could have done without looking crass. I think they have done an excellent job and do not see how it could be bettered.

  68. Pedantic says:

    If you follow the link from Littlejohn above you will see one of the commenters has posted a picture of one of the columns of the original station.

  69. timbeau says:

    I’ve found a picture of the pre-1977 (i.e. original 1866) facade of Blackfriars in Alan A jackson’s “London’s termini” (1969). The description describes it thus: “In pink-red brick, it huddled apologetically against the viaduct, trying hard to look dignified by displaying stumpy towers at each corner, seeking to impress by showing, in incised letters on the stones around the street doors, the names of fifty-four towns and cities which could somehow be reached from its platforms. This catalogue was a curious mixture of the romantic and the mundane, ranging from St Pedtersburg and Vienna to Westgate-on-Sea and Crystal Palace”

    The photo is too grainy to show the wording (and in the 1952 photo the station was extremely uncared-for: very grimy, with most doors boarded up, and several broken windows), but clearly shows five arches giving on to the street doors, so four intermediate columns, and two narrower ones at the ends. It would seem that these six columns were closed together to form the “wall” we know from the 1977 and now 2012 stations.

  70. Pedantic of Purley says:

    I can find the description but not the picture the Timbeau refers to in my paperback copy of “London’s Termini”.

    In my picture there are indeed five arches but the middle three are bricked off with an upper semi-circular window leaving only the outer two qualifying as an “entrance arch”. I had presumed that this was always the case but maybe the original “St Paul’s” station had five entrance arches and they were bricked up later.

    Nevertheless I cannot see how the original formation could be incorporated into the 21st century station without looking out of place. However that is just my opinion. It is all clearly subjective. I like what they have done but not surprisingly the Evening Standard doesn’t have a kind thing to say about the entire station.

  71. timbeau says:


    The photo is on page 190, the description on p197. The picture was taken in 1952 and shows the Queen Vic Street frontage – with the bridge to Ludgate Hill on the right – the caption mentions war damage, and most of the upper storey windows appear to be broken. The arches seem to be boarded (not bricked) up for their full height, with doorways let into the outer two and a smaller aperture in the middle one.

    I can’t make out the names on the pillars, but the panels appear to be in the right proportions.

    Perhaps surpisingly, I cannot find a single picture of the facade on line.

  72. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @timbeau. I have now spotted “This edition printed 1972” in my book. Description is on page 200 but no picture.

    I have now discovered excellent close-up pictures of the stones in their original setting in “London’s Historic Railway stations”. I am surprised Greg did not pick up on that. The relevant chapter is entitled “Blackfriars, Holborn Viaduct and Cannon Street” and is subtitled “Multilated Masterpieces” which says it all really.

    The close up picture indicates that the columns of destinations was rather tall. Given the height involved, I cannot see how they could be incorporated into Blackfriars station in their original formation. It would be lovely to see them again as they originally were but I still think that would look out of place if it was recreated at the current Blackfriars station.

    The whole thing does raise questions about how we best preserve our past.

  73. EC4Res says:

    I think that the re-building of Blackfriars station has been an expensive, missed opportunity. The current station is some 300 metres from City Thameslink, which was already a 12 car station and, with modification suitable for the new high density service. This could have been further enhanced by the re-development of the site on the opposite side of Ludgate Hill to the current entrance. A new entrance could have been incorporated into this new space, with Piazza and pedestrian access to Ludgate Hill. Bus stops could have been taken away from the main highway.

    I think Blackfriars itself should have been re-built south of the river. Close to Southwark Street and Chartwell street, again another area of redevelopment. The cost of rebuilding the station here, as opposed to on the bridge, would I suspect have been far lower.

    To ensure integration with the tube network a pedestrian link could have been build from Blackfriars Underground to City Thameslink. this is only 300 metres and would have offered a transfer time not that far different to now.

    The new Blackfriars, south of the river could have had a link to Southwark Underground. This would have provided a useful second link to the Jubilee Line for passengers travelling from Wimbledon for example.

    What we have now is an over engineered, albeit it very attractive station,.

    Just a thought.

  74. Geoff says:

    ref my post of 2nd June .
    To correct the correction – Joe Browns London Railway Atlas edition 2 is actually wrong when it comes to the bridge name. Alexandra Bridge is the one into Cannon Street . The two Blackfriars bridges were St Pauls & Blackfriars. Edition 3 corrects the error.

  75. timbeau says:

    Passing through Blackfriars recently I was struck by how gloomy it is – disappointingly so given its elevated position, and needing artificial light even in the daytime. The problem is the roof: its solar panels absorb all the sunlight falling on them – they would, after all, be little use as solar panels if they did not! It seems a little perverse to have the sunlight falling on the roof converted into electricity, only to be converted back into light to replace the direct sunlight lost by having the panels in the first place!

  76. timbeau says:

    Sorry to raise an old thread, but another point about the roof at Blackfriars is the danger of this happening

    I think I saw it about to happen again today – a train climbing up from City TL to Blackfriars with its pantograph reaching for the sky (the wires end at City TL). From the street I couldn’t see what happened next but I noticed on the website services were disrupted because of a broken down train. Is there something to prevent an errant pantograph damaging the roof?

Leave a Comment

In order to make LR a pleasant place for discussion, please try to keep comments polite and, importantly, on topic! Comments that we feel do not meet these criteria, or that contain language that could cause some people trouble at work, may be moderated or deleted.

acceptable tags

* (This won't be shown, but you can link it to an avatar if you like)

Recent Articles

Friday Reading List – 24 March


As anyone looking to properly understand London’s transport needs and network knows, context, background and best-practice are important. As readers might imagine, behind the scenes here at LR Towers we thus spend a lot of time sharing links and reading

Read more ›

Friday Reading List – 17 March


As anyone looking to properly understand London’s transport needs and network knows, context, background and best-practice are important. As readers might imagine, behind the scenes here at LR Towers we thus spend a lot of time sharing links and reading

Read more ›

LR Magazine Issue Five: Overgrounded


With print copies now being prepped for dispatch to subscribers at LR Towers, London Reconnections Magazine Issue 5: Overgrounded is now available to purchase in our online store. Transport is politics, politics is transport You don’t get transport without politics.

Read more ›