King's Cross is spelled both with and without an apostrophe.
King's Cross is used in signage at the Network Rail and London Underground stations, on the tube map and on the official Network Rail webpage. It has been used on official maps from Underground companies since 1951 – the apostrophe was used on them only very rarely before 1951.
Kings Cross is used in the National Rail timetable database and other National Rail railway pages, and on the thetrainline.com online booking system. Kings X, Kings + and London KX are abbreviations used in space-limited contexts. The National Rail station code is KGX.
King's Cross was built in 1851–1852 as the London hub of the Great Northern Railway and terminus of the East Coast main line. It replaced a temporary station next to Maiden Lane (now York Way) that had been quickly constructed with the line's arrival in London in 1850.
The station took its name from the King's Cross area of London, named after a monument to King George IV that was demolished in 1845. Construction was on the site of a fever and smallpox hospital and it replaced a temporary terminus at Maiden Lane that had opened on 7 August 1850.
Plans for the station were first made in December 1848 under the direction of George Turnbull, resident engineer for construction of the first 20 miles (32 km) of the Great Northern Railway out of London. The detailed design was by Lewis Cubitt, the brother of both Thomas Cubitt (the architect of Bloomsbury, Belgravia and Osborne House), and of Sir William Cubitt (who was chief engineer of The Crystal Palace built in 1851, and consulting engineer to the Great Northern and South Eastern Railways). The design was based on two great arched train sheds, with a brick structure at the south end designed to reflect the main arches behind. The main feature of the original station was a 112-foot (34 m) high clock tower that held treble, tenor and bass bells, the latter weighing 1 ton 9 cwt (1.47 tonnes). In size, it was inspired by the 200 yards (180 m) long Moscow Riding Academy of 1825, leading to its built length of 268 yards (245 m).
The main part of the station, which today includes platforms 1 to 8, was opened on 14 October 1852. Upon opening, it was the biggest station in England. The platforms have been reconfigured several times. Originally there was only one arrival and one departure platform (today's platforms 1 and 8 respectively), with the space between used for carriage sidings.
Suburban traffic quickly grew with the opening of stations at Hornsey in 1850, Holloway Road in 1856, Wood Green in 1859 and Seven Sisters Road (now Finsbury Park) in 1861. Midland Railway services ran from King's Cross on 1 February 1858. New platforms were added in 1862; No. 2 was full-length but No. 3 was stepped into the northern end of the station. In 1866, a connection was made via the Metropolitan Railway to the London, Chatham and Dover Railway at Farringdon, with goods and passenger services to South London via Herne Hill. A separate suburban station to the west of the main building, which is platforms 9-11 today and known initially as "Kings Cross Main Line (Local) Station", was opened in August 1875. This was followed by a connection to the Metropolitan Line on 1 February 1878. Two new platforms (now 5 and 6) were opened on 18 December 1893 to cater for increased traffic demands. A new iron footbridge was built halfway down which connected all the platforms together. By 1880, half of the traffic at King's Cross was for suburban services.
A significant bottleneck in the early years of operations was the Gas Works tunnel underneath the Regent's Canal immediately to the north, which was built with a single up and down track. Commercial traffic was further impeded by having to cross over on-level running lines in order to reach the goods yard. Grade separation of goods traffic was achieved by constructing a skew bridge, opening in August 1877, while a second and third Gas Works tunnel opened in 1878 and 1892 respectively. A further problem was with bad weather, which caused flooding in the tunnels. One such incident in July 1901 suspended all traffic from King's Cross for over four hours, which happened at no other London terminus.
King's Cross was fortunate to sustain no damage during World War I, particularly as large amounts of high explosives were carried to the station in passenger trains during this time. Where possible, trains were parked in tunnels in the event of enemy aircraft.
Kings Cross came under ownership of the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) following the Railways Act 1921. The LNER made improvements to various amenities around the station, including new toilets and dressing rooms underneath what is now platform 8. The lines through the Gas Works tunnel were remodeled between 1922–4 with signal improvements, to make it easier to manage the increasing number of local trains.
A number of famous trains have been associated with King's Cross, such as the Flying Scotsman service to Edinburgh, and the Gresley A3 and later streamlined A4 Pacific steam locomotives, which handled express services from the 1930s until 1966. The most famous of these was Mallard, which still holds the world speed record for steam locomotives at 126 miles per hour (203 km/h), set in 1938.
King's Cross saw heavy patronage during World War II, handling large amounts of troops alongside civilian traffic. Engine shortages meant that up to 2,000 people could be accommodated on each train. In the early hours of Sunday 11 May 1941, two 1,000 pounds (450 kg) bombs fell on the west side of the station, destroying the general offices, booking hall and a bar, and blowing out a large section of roof. Twelve people were killed; the death total would have been higher if the blast had occurred at another day and time.
Diesel services began to increase during the 1950s, with steam being phased out. All mainline services had converted to diesel by June 1963. Platform numbers were reorganised in 1972, to run consecutively from 1 (east) to 14 (west). The track layout was simplified in the 1970s by reusing an old flyover for freight near the Copenhagen Tunnels at Holloway, and reducing the number of running lanes through the Gas Works Tunnels from six to four. A 25kV overhead line was installed at the same time to cater for suburban services. The works were completed on 3 April 1977. Electric services began running from King's Cross to Hertford, Welwyn and Royston; one of the few service improvements made in the area under the late 1970s Labour government.
The construction of the Victoria Line, which included an interchange at King's Cross, was seen as an opportunity to modernise the station. In 1972, a single-storey extension designed in-house by British Rail was built on to the front of the station to contain the main passenger concourse and ticket office. Although intended to be temporary, it still stood 40 years later, obscuring the Grade I-listed façade of the original station. Before the extension was built, the façade was hidden behind a small terrace of shops. The extension was demolished in late 2012, revealing once again the Lewis Cubitt architecture. In its place, the 75,000 sq ft King's Cross Square was created, which was opened to the public on 26 September 2013.
On 10 September 1973, a Provisional IRA bomb exploded in the booking hall at 12.24, causing extensive damage and injuring six people, some seriously. The 3 lb (1.4 kg) device was thrown without warning by a youth who escaped into the crowd and was not caught.
King's Cross was a major terminus for the InterCity 125 high speed services. By 1982, almost all long-distances trains leaving the station were 125s. The service proved to be popular, and the station saw regular queues across the concourse to board departing trains.
The King's Cross fire of 1987 started in a machine room for a wooden escalator between the King's Cross mainline station and the London Underground station's Piccadilly line platforms. Eventually, the entire escalator burnt up, and much of the tube station caught fire (with smoke spreading to the mainline station), ultimately killing 31 people.
In 1987, British Rail proposed a new station under King's Cross, with four platforms for international trains through the Channel Tunnel, and four for Thameslink trains, with some commuter trains to be diverted to St Pancras. After six years of design work, the plans were abandoned, and a new international terminal was constructed at St Pancras instead.
Following the Privitisation of British Rail in 1996, express services into the station were taken over by GNER. The company refurbished the existing British Rail Mark 4 "Mallard" rolling stock, used for long-distances services from King's Cross, and the inauguration of the new-look trains took place with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in 2003.
Though it successfully re-bid for the franchise in 2005, it was asked to surrender it in December 2006. National Express East Coast took over the franchise on 9 December 2007 after an interim period when GNER ran trains under a management contract. In July 2009, it was announced that National Express was no longer willing to finance the East Coast subsidiary and the franchise was taken back into public ownership, handing over to East Coast in November 2009.
Before privatisation, King's Cross had a notorious reputation for housing a number of run-down buildings and questionable businesses including prostitution services in front of the main entrance. A major clean-up scheme took place during the 1990s, and the station's atmosphere was much improved by the end of the decade.
In 2005, a £500 million restoration plan was announced by Network Rail; it was approved by Camden London Borough Council two years later. The plan included a restoration and reglazing of the original arched roof and the removal of the 1972 extension, to be replaced by an open-air plaza, scheduled for completion in 2013.
A new semi-circular departures concourse opened to the public in March 2012 to the west of the station behind the Great Northern Hotel. Designed by John McAslan and built by Vinci, it was intended to cater for much-increased passenger flows and provide greater integration between the intercity, suburban and underground sections of the station. The architect claimed that the roof is the longest single-span station structure in Europe and the semi-circular building has a radius of 59 yards (54 m) and over 2,000 triangular roof panels, half of which are glass.
The land between and behind the two stations is being redeveloped with around 2,000 new homes, 5,000,000 sq ft (464,500 m2) of offices and new roads as King's Cross Central. As part of this restoration programme, refurbished offices have opened on the east side of the station to replace the ones lost on the west side, and a new platform 0 opened underneath them on 20 May 2010. Diesel trains cannot normally use this platform for environmental reasons. The restoration project was awarded a European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award in 2013.On 18 August 1855, a passenger train collided with the buffer stops.
On 30 May 1860, an excursion train collided with the buffer stops. About fourteen people were injured.
On 2 November 1865, a coal train became divided at the station. The rear portion ran back and ran through the buffer stops. One person was injured.
On 30 October 1873, a passenger train stalled on leaving the station and ran back. The following passenger train collided with it. Several people were injured, one seriously.
On 22 March 1875, a passenger train was derailed entering Gasworks Tunnel. Some passengers were injured.
On 8 January 1878, a freight train became divided. The rear portion ran back and was in collision with a passenger train. Three people were severely injured.
On 9 April 1881, a passenger train was in a rear-end collision with an empty stock train in Gasworks Tunnel. One person was injured.
On 15 September 1881, a light engine and a coal train were in collision near the mouth of Copenhagen Tunnel due to a signalman's error. One person was killed and one was severely injured.
On 8 November 1884, an empty stock train collided with a rake of carriages. One person was injured. The driver claimed brake failure as the cause.
On 30 June 1885, a freight train and a passenger train were in collision at the mouth of Gasworks Tunnel. No injuries were reported.
On 23 December 1893, a passenger train ran into an empty stock train on leaving the station due to a signalman's error. Two people were injured.
On 22 July 1896, a passenger train was derailed when leaving the station. One carriage overturned. Twenty people were injured; two people suffered broken arms.
On 10 March 1897, an excursion train collided with the buffer stops. Twelve people were injured.
On 4 February 1945, a passenger train to Leeds and Bradford stalled in Gasworks Tunnel, ran back and was derailed in the station. Two people were killed and 25 were injured. Services were not fully restored to the station until 23 February.
On 16 September 2003, a passenger train was derailed due to a signalman's error, compounded by a maintenance error. There were no injuries.
On 17 September 2015, the 12:18 arrival from Cambridge collided with the buffer stops at platform 11 at a speed of 7.5 miles per hour (12.1 km/h). The train was operated by Class 317 electric multiple unit No. 317 346. Fourteen passengers were injured.
From 1863, part of King's Cross was an intermediate station. On the extreme east of the site was King's Cross York Road, with suburban trains from Finsbury Park calling here, then using the sharply curved, and sharply graded York Road Tunnel to join the City Widened Lines to Farringdon, Barbican and Moorgate. In the other direction, trains from Moorgate came off the Widened Lines via the Hotel Curve, with platform 16 (latterly renumbered 14) rising to the main-line level. Services to and from Moorgate were diverted via the Northern City Line from November 1976. The station remained in occasional use until completely closed on 5 March 1977.
The Great Northern Cemetery Station was based 50 metres (160 ft) to the east of the main King's Cross station complex, and was designed to transport coffins and mourners from the city towards the burial grounds at New Southgate Cemetery. The station opened in 1861 but was never profitable and closed in 1873.
The station serves inter city routes to the East of England, Yorkshire, North East England and eastern and northern Scotland, connecting to major cities and towns such as Cambridge, Peterborough, Hull, Doncaster, Leeds, York, Sunderland, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bradford, Aberdeen and Inverness.
Four train services operate from King's Cross:
Virgin Trains East Coast operates high speed inter-city services along the East Coast Main Line. Basic off-peak timetable includes:Half hourly service to Leeds
1 train per hour departing at xx:05 calling at Peterborough, Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate
1 train per hour departing at xx:35 calling at Stevenage, Grantham, Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate
1 service extended daily to Bradford Forster Square
1 service extended daily to Skipton
1 service extended daily to Harrogate
Hourly semi-fast service to Newcastle Central departing at xx:30 (extended to Edinburgh every two hours) calling at Peterborough, Newark North Gate, Doncaster, York, Northallerton, Darlington and Durham
Services at peak hours are extended to Edinburgh Waverley calling at Alnmouth
1 semi-fast service is extended daily to Glasgow Central via Edinburgh
1 semi-fast service is extended daily to Sunderland
Hourly express service to Edinburgh Waverley departing at xx:00 calling at York, Darlington, Newcastle Central and Berwick-upon-Tweed.
3 express services extended daily to Aberdeen via Dundee
1 express service extended daily to Inverness via Stirling and Perth
1 express service extended daily to Stirling
Two-hourly service to Newark North Gate/York calling at all stations on route.
1 service extended daily to Newcastle
1 service extended daily to Lincoln
Great Northern operate outer-suburban services to North London, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire. Basic off-peak timetable includes:2 services per hour to Peterborough (1 semi-fast, 1 stopping)
1 service per hour non-stop to Cambridge
1 service per hour to King's Lynn
2 slow services per hour to Cambridge (1 semi-fast, 1 stopping)
Hull Trains operates daily inter-city services to Hull and a limited weekday service to Beverley via the East Coast Main Line. Unlike the other train companies in FirstGroup, Hull Trains operates under an open-access arrangement and is not a franchised train operating company.
Grand Central operates inter-city services to Bradford and Sunderland along the East Coast Main Line and is an open-access operator. On 23 May 2010 it began services to Bradford Interchange via Halifax, Brighouse, Mirfield, Wakefield, Pontefract and Doncaster which had originally been due to begin in December 2009.
Several London bus routes, including 10, 30, 59, 73, 91, 205, 390, 476 pass in front of or at the side of the station.
In May 2016 ORR approved a new operator called East Coast Trains which would operate services to Edinburgh Waverley via Stevenage, Newcastle & Morpeth. The service would begin operation in 2021.
King's Cross St Pancras tube station is served by more lines than any other station on the London Underground, and is one of the busiest. It is in Travelcard Zone 1.