London commuters will finally get to sample the new western concourse at King’s Cross station next week.
The radical revamp, which is part of a £550m scheme, is the biggest transformation in the station’s 160-year history.
With its futuristic exterior coupled with a bright and breezy interior, Network Rail (NR) hopes the project will prove both functional as well as an awe-inspiring gateway to the capital.
NR’s main aims are to cut-down congestion at the Grade-I listed station – which caters for more than 45 million passengers a year travelling to and from London, servicing routes as far afield as York, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
There have also been a number of significant improvements to the facilities at King’s Cross, including improved links to St Pancras station, more shops and restaurants, and larger destination boards.
It is the latest in a string of key transport upgrades before the eyes of the world descend upon London for the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer.
Before the general public gets a chance to sample the elaborate new surroundings at King’s Cross, there is due to be an opening ceremony on Wednesday that will be attended by London mayor Boris Johnson, NR chief executive Sir David Higgins and transport secretary Justine Greening.
When the new concourse is officially open for public use, travellers leaving on trains from King’s Cross will have to enter the station from the new building on the western side of the station.
New pedestrian arcades will also provide smoother access to the concourse from Euston Road and Pancras Road via the ground floor of the Great Northern Hotel.
Transport watchdog London Travel Watch has described how the disruption of the redevelopment works finally being over will be a relief for businesses and commuters.
A spokesman said: “Passengers will welcome the end to the redevelopment works after so long. The entrances and exits to the underground will be much more spacious and should ease congestion.”
After the Games this summer the existing 1970s building on Euston Road will be transformed into a new public open space, which is expected to be completed by September next year.
Until demolition begins later this year the building will continue to serve both arriving and departing passengers.
Ian Fry, NR’s programme director for the new station, said: “I’m sure that regular users of the current station will be very pleased with the new concourse when it opens.”