Aerial view of Kings Cross station

London King’s Cross – currently undergoing a significant upgrade to improve journeys for passengers – was opened on this day in 1852.

We’re upgrading the approach to the station to re-lay 1.5 miles of track in a simpler layout. This will mean faster arrival and departure times and smoother and more reliable journeys.

The track layout has reached the end of its design life and become harder to maintain. The station itself was modernised in 2012 but the existing track and signalling was installed over 40 years ago and is nearing the end of its operational life:

The multi-million-pound investment will also increase the number of tracks into the station from four to six through the reopening of one bore of a disused railway tunnel. Meanwhile, we’re updating the signalling system and overhead line equipment.

It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve this vital part of the railway, which carries trains bound for as far afield as northern Scotland, as well as many commuter services across the South East, and prepare the infrastructure for the future.

East Coast Upgrade

The project is the biggest investment in the route in a generation – the East Coast Upgrade. It will complete in 2021 and provide up to 10,000 extra seats a day on long-distance services. 

This means even more potential tourist traffic for locations along this busy line and better links for businesses – to London, the north of England, the coast and Scotland. Crucially, better connections will give passengers more choice with their journeys.

The history of London King’s Cross

The area known as King’s Cross got its name from a statue of King George IV erected at the crossroads of what is now Euston Road, York Way, Pentonville Road and Grays Inn Road. The monument itself was short lived, being completed in 1836 and demolished in 1845, but the area retained the name.

King’s Cross station opened to passengers on 14 October 1852, designed by Lewis Cubitt to be simple and functional. At the time it was the largest railway station in Britain.

The station saw significant change throughout the 20th century to meet passenger and freight demand, turning King’s Cross into a significant transport hub.

Today, Cubitt’s original Grade 1 listed façade has been revealed once more, together with a square at the front of the station, creating a new public space right in the heart of London.

Historical timeline of London King’s Cross

  • 1850: 7 August, the Great Northern Railway’s temporary terminus at Maiden Lane (now York Way) is opened.
  • 1851: Maiden Lane has large numbers of passengers passing through the station making their way to the Great Exhibition. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert depart for Scotland from this temporary terminus.
  • 1852: 14 October, the Great Northern Railway’s permanent King’s Cross station is opened for passengers.
  • 1854: 17 May, The Great Northern Hotel next door to King’s Cross and designed by Lewis Cubitt opens. Facing the west side of the station it follows the original curve of Pancras Road.
  • 1858: Accommodation at King’s Cross is given to Midland Railway trains, an arrangement that lasts until St Pancras opens in September 1868.
  • 1860s: demand for suburban services at King’s Cross increases, particularly after 1863 when the station is linked with the Metropolitan Railway, the world’s first underground railway.
  • 1866: 1 January, York Road platform for through suburban and underground services opens.
  • 1869: Improvements are made to strengthen the east side of the station.
  • 1875: Between 1875 and 1895 suburban platforms are added to the west side of the main line station.
  • 1886: Improvements are made to strengthen the west side of the station.
  • 1906: A new underground entrance is built at the front of King’s Cross.
  • 1923: The Great Northern Railway becomes part of the London & North Eastern Railway.
  • 1955: King’s Cross is used as a location setting in the Ealing Comedy The Ladykillers.
  • 1973: 25 June, a single story travel centre, ticket office and concourse opens to the front of Cubits façade.
  • 1977: 4 March, the Suburban and York Road platforms close.
  • 1997: King’s Cross becomes famous in the Harry Potter series of books and films, platform 9 ¾ being the departure point for Hogwarts.
  • 2006: Regeneration of the old goods yards and locomotive depots around King's Cross begins and is expected to last until 2020. The area is the largest inner city regeneration site in Europe.
  • 2009: A new underground ticket hall and improved access arrangements for the King’s Cross St Pancras underground station are completed.
  • 2012: 19 March, Phase one of the King's Cross redevelopment project is completed with the opening of the new western departures concourse, a steel and glass dome designed by John McAslan.
  • 2013: September, The final stage of the redevelopment draws to a close after the removal of the 1973 extension, the restoration of the original façade and the creation of a new public square to the front of the station.