Showpiece London Bridge concourse to emerge this month

Network Rail has announced that the first two thirds of the newly reconstructed lower concourse at London Bridge will open to the public at the end of August, two years out from the expected completion date of the £400m project.

An alliance team of NR and Costain with design support from an Arcadis and WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff joint venture has been working on the reconstruction of London Bridge station for the past four years. The station is being gradually and completely rebuilt as part of NR's Thameslink Programme, in sections two to three platforms wide, from the south west St Thomas Street side across to the opposite Tooley Street entrance.

The new ground level concourse will be the showpiece of the rebuilt London Bridge, stretching unbroken across the entire 165m width of the station between St Thomas' and Tooley Street. Trains will use new platforms constructed on elevated structures above, while the reopened concourse will house new retail units in an enlarged space, which also retains restored quadripartite masonry arches around its outer perimeter.

Thameslink Programme director Simon Blanchflower said: “Passengers have been using our new platforms for some time, with the work on the new concourse hidden behind hoardings. This August we will open the doors for the first two-thirds of the new station and people will see the massive scale of the work we have been doing, as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan.”

The London Bridge rebuild project has been the cause of significant disruption for rail passengers in the south east, which has caused NR to issue promises of reviews into the way it plans and carries out major station upgrade projects. Further disruption due to changes in services is expected from this August as the project enters its next phase. Cannon Street trains will no longer call at London Bridge, but Charing Cross services via Waterloo East will return. Thameslink trains between Brighton and Bedford will not stop at London Bridge until the project finishes in 2018.

Southeastern's train services director, Richard Dean, said: “We’re really pleased that our passengers will be able to start using the new station. There’s still a lot of work to do and we need to make major changes to our services to allow the next phrase to happen. We ask that passengers check for full details of how their services will be affected, especially on the working days, Tuesday 30 August – Thursday 1 September when we’ll be running fewer trains than normal.”

Dyan Crowther, chief operating officer at Govia Thameslink Railway, said: “We’re thrilled that this major phase of the station is nearing completion. The new lower concourse with a permanent ticket office and escalators to our Southern platforms above will be welcomed by passengers.

“We look forward to the end of the project, in 2018, when our Thameslink services can return to London Bridge, increasing frequency and capacity on the route.”




While this is, indeed, a fantastic undertaking, Network Rail have singularly failed to engage with the travelling public about the enormity of the task, and the benefit to all rail passengers, not just those using London Bridge Station, not just those travelling on Thameslink, but also the thousands whose journey involves passing through London Bridge, and who have also borne a large part of the disruption. It has been a missed opportunity, the consequences of which has alienated the travelling public, while they should have tried to enthuse them with the vision. For example, many passengers do not even know what the Bermondsey Dive Under is, because even though they travel past the construction site every day, there has been very little explanation of the real benefits for all that will be achieved. It is, in fact, an integral element of the satisfactory use of the new London Bridge station -as important in its way as the new concourse.