An unrecognisable Blackfriars
Blackfriars station has been completely rebuilt by the Thameslink Programme. In a four year rebuild which began in 2009, the old Victorian railway bridge was stripped to its foundations and made wider and stronger to house new platforms, a new ticket hall, new entrances and a 250m-long roof which forms the world’s largest bridge-based solar array.
The station was fully operational in time for the London Olympics in August 2012, a key milestone to help London’s transport network better handle the thousands of extra visitors.
Forward thinking design
The new Blackfriars is unrecognisable from the old. Narrow, exposed and overcrowded platforms only capable of hosting 8 car trains have been completely renovated and extended, transforming the look and feel of the station, while also allowing longer 12 car trains to serve the station’s increasing numbers of passengers.
Despite being completed in 2012, the station was rebuilt with the Thameslink Programme’s key aim for 2019 in mind – 24 trains per hour on the Thameslink network at peak times, and subsequently the greater amount of passengers this brings.
Longer platforms and new concourse spaces form part of this forward thinking design, while other aspects include the significant improvements made to the London Underground station at Blackfriars as part of the Thameslink Programme, demonstrating the holistic approach to redevelopment of public transport hubs taken by the project.
The design undertaken at Blackfriars had a number of unique considerations to incorporate. These included how to build a station over a river while trains continue to operate, how to incorporate the Grade II listed bridge piers into the design of the widened station and how not to impede on the protected sightlines of St Paul’s Cathedral, close by on the north side of the river.
All of this has contributed to creating a unique, landmark station in central London. Both stunning to look at and providing remarkable views of London, the station is now light, open and accessible with a distinct, low-profile ‘sawtooth’ roof structure.
Heritage features at the station were also important to consider in the design. Two railway cartouches, bearing the name of the London, Dover and Chatham Railway that once served Blackfriars, were renovated and returned to the South Bank. On the northern side of the station, part of the original façade built in 1886 was also restored and incorporated within the new concourse.
Nine new lifts and eight new escalators have made every platform at Blackfriars accessible step-free for the first time – and from both sides of the river. There is now more seating and platform space than ever before, help points and induction loops throughout the station, as well as specially designed toilets for passengers with reduced mobility.
Step free access on to the new Thameslink Class 700 trains is also incorporated with a platform ‘hump’ providing level access on platforms one and two, helping not only passengers with reduced mobility but also mothers with prams and travellers with heavy luggage. Access to the Tube is also made easier by removing corridors at the interface between the two stations.
All of these factors combine to make Blackfriars one of the most accessible stations in the country.
Blackfriars is now the only station in London to span the River Thames, with entrances on both sides of the river. The existing northern concourse building was rebuilt with a stunning open and transparent curved glass façade which helps provide natural light through the station.
The new entrance which has been built on the South Bank, the first to be built there for 120 years, means cultural attractions such as Tate Modern, the National Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe are now directly accessible from Blackfriars, opening up the South Bank to the Thameslink network.
Keeping passengers moving
Construction took place in two halves over the three year period, allowing the station to remain operational on weekdays throughout the project, reducing the disruption for commuters. The eastern side of the station, where the through platforms now sit, was rebuilt first, followed by the western side which now holds the terminating platforms.
The track layout through the station was remodelled during the rebuild, with the through and terminating lines swapping sides to prevent clashes between services at the southern end of Blackfriars. This remodelling means trains traveling to or from London Bridge can now carry on across London and beyond unimpeded. Previously, they had to wait to cross over the terminating lines as they entered or left the station – this conflict has now been removed, improving reliability and allowing more services to operate.
Sustainability was at the heart of the project to rebuild Blackfriars, both at the design stages and the delivery stages. The redeveloped station is the world’s largest solar bridge with over 4,400 photovoltaic panels – covering roughly 6,000sqm – or about 23 tennis courts. The roof provides up to 50% of the station’s energy, enough to heat almost 80,000 cups of tea a day, dramatically reducing the station’s CO2 emissions by an estimated 511 tonnes per year.
Intelligent lighting systems, combined with a design which provides high levels of natural lighting mean that in daylight hours almost no electronic lighting is required, providing even more energy savings. Rainwater harvesting is also built into the design of the station, to help provide recycled water for the stations public toilets.
The station was also delivered sustainably, taking advantage of its unique location, with the River Thames being used for delivery and removal of materials. Over the course of the project 14,000 tonnes of materials were bought to site and 8,000 removed via barge. Using this method, approximately 2000 lorries and nine tonnes of CO2 were removed from London’s roads, reducing our impact on both the environment and the communities around the station.
Related Case Studies
The incorporation of PV cells at Blackfriars Station is a flagship project, creating the ‘world’s first solar bridge’ and demonstrating the benefits of solar power and renewables on Britain’s rail network.
Lifts have are now open to all four platforms on both the north and south banks. Four escalators have also been unveiled in the stunning new north bank National Rail ticket hall.
Network Rail, First Capital Connect and Solarcentury surprised passengers arriving at Blackfriars station this morning (Wednesday 22nd January 2014) with a free cuppa drawn from Britain’s biggest tea cup to celebrate the launch of the world’s largest solar bridge.
Thameslink has let the final retail space in Blackfriars station south entrance, highlighting the stunning new station structure that spans the Thames. Passengers and passers-by alike can enjoy a range…