Charing Cross - why so small?

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Sad Sprinter

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Is there any reason why Charing Cross only has six platforms? Even Cannon Street and the terminating platforms at London Bridge have more. Would have thought it would have at least seven.
 
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Bletchleyite

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Is there any reason why Charing Cross only has three platforms? Even Cannon Street and the terminating platforms at London Bridge have more. Would have thought it would have at least seven.

Er, it appears to have 6.

Map here:

 

Wolfie

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Er, it appears to have 6.

Not just appears to but actually does, at least as of last night when l caught a train leaving from platform 6, have!!!
 

ainsworth74

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Not just appears to but actually does, at least as of last night when l caught a train leaving from platform 6, have!!!

You might want to sit down. I have some bad news about platforms four to six to tell you about...

:lol: ;)
 

Ianno87

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Is there any reason why Charing Cross only has six platforms? Even Cannon Street and the terminating platforms at London Bridge have more. Would have thought it would have at least seven.

A) Space. Some incredibly valuable land and real estate, constrained by also by the river bridge.

B) It doesn't need them, if you let me explain....


The constraint at Charing Cross is actually the two Fast Line tracks from Tanners Hill Jn (Lewisham) to London Bridge, and then again from London Bridge to Ewer Street Junction (between London Bridge and Waterloo East); these have a planning headway of 2 minutes, so permit (on paper) 30 trains per hour in each dircetion.

At Ewer Street Junction, these 2 tracks become 4, with services alternating every 4 minutes on each pair of lines (so 15tph on paper). The junction does not limit capacity as the timetable is planned around "parallel moves" so a train to the Fast Lines is at the same time as a train from the Fast Lines, and likewise to/from the Slow Lines.

Then at Charing Cross this 15tph splits between the three platforms on each side, so every platform has 5tph, or a train every 12 minutes. Which permits* a 9 minute turnround time for every train, then a 3 minute re-occupation to the next trains,

*Platform 4 is a bit more complicated as it has an 4 minute re-occupation due to its long access track constrained by the bridge girders.

This all works because, essentially, the entire Kent timetable is planned around this
 

Wolfie

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A) Space. Some incredibly valuable land and real estate, constrained by also by the river bridge.

B) It doesn't need them, if you let me explain....


The constraint at Charing Cross is actually the two Fast Line tracks from Tanners Hill Jn (Lewisham) to London Bridge, and then again from London Bridge to Ewer Street Junction (between London Bridge and Waterloo East); these have a planning headway of 2 minutes, so permit (on paper) 30 trains per hour in each dircetion.

At Ewer Street Junction, these 2 tracks become 4, with services alternating every 4 minutes on each pair of lines (so 15tph on paper). The junction does not limit capacity as the timetable is planned around "parallel moves" so a train to the Fast Lines is at the same time as a train from the Fast Lines, and likewise to/from the Slow Lines.

Then at Charing Cross this 15tph splits between the three platforms on each side, so every platform has 5tph, or a train every 12 minutes. Which permits* a 9 minute turnround time for every train, then a 3 minute re-occupation to the next trains,

*Platform 4 is a bit more complicated as it has an 4 minute re-occupation due to its long access track constrained by the bridge girders.

This all works because, essentially, the entire Kent timetable is planned around this
TY. I hadn't realised it was that finely balanced.
 

Bald Rick

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Is there any reason why Charing Cross only has six platforms? Even Cannon Street and the terminating platforms at London Bridge have more. Would have thought it would have at least seven.
There’s only 6 terminating platforms at London Bridge, too.

And to emphasise the point, Cannon St and its 7 platforms has lower capacity than Charing Cross...
 

Dr Hoo

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Many years ago Cannon Street had four approach tracks, squeezed through Borough Market Junction with two of them shared with Charing Cross, so the balance of services could be different. I just remember the old layouts.
 

Mcr Warrior

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There’s only 6 terminating platforms at London Bridge, too.
Not been through there since the fairly recent re-build.

Platforms 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 are now the terminating platforms. All are capable of berthing twelve car multiple units.

Prior to the rebuild, London Bridge had nine terminating platforms, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16, but platform 8, and the latter three, 14, 15 and 16 could only cope with eight car multiple units.
 

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When Charing Cross and Cannon Street were built in the 1860s, I think the City traffic was probably still more important than the West End to the SER. There was also a Charing Cross-Cannon Street shuttle, which became notorious as a haunt of ladies of easy virtue.

Two of the pictures on my wall are framed full-page engravings from the Illustrated London News, showing the two stations, Charing Cross under construction seen from a boat on the river, with the arched roof still incomplete, and Cannon Street seen from the station throat. In the picture, the west side of Charing Cross is hemmed in by slummy looking property, and of course there was no Embankment or District Line then.
 

Bald Rick

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Not been through there since the fairly recent re-build.

Platforms 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 are now the terminating platforms. All are capable of berthing twelve car multiple units.

Prior to the rebuild, London Bridge had nine terminating platforms, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16, but platform 8, and the latter three, 14, 15 and 16 could only cope with eight car multiple units.

IIRC 15 can berth a 12 car, but only 11 are in the platform.

When Charing Cross and Cannon Street were built in the 1860s, I think the City traffic was probably still more important than the West End to the SER. There was also a Charing Cross-Cannon Street shuttle, which became notorious as a haunt of ladies of easy virtue.

Two of the pictures on my wall are framed full-page engravings from the Illustrated London News, showing the two stations, Charing Cross under construction seen from a boat on the river, with the arched roof still incomplete, and Cannon Street seen from the station throat. In the picture, the west side of Charing Cross is hemmed in by slummy looking property, and of course there was no Embankment or District Line then.

Back then most trains would serve Cannon St, then go on to Charing Cross (reversing at the former).
 

paul1609

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IIRC 15 can berth a 12 car, but only 11 are in the platform.



Back then most trains would serve Cannon St, then go on to Charing Cross (reversing at the former).
Not to mention the Cannon Street to South west mainline trains when Waterloo East was called Waterloo Junction!
 

Mcr Warrior

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IIRC 15 can berth a 12 car, but only 11 are in the platform.
Is that pre or post the London Bridge re-build? (Appreciate that we are drifting slightly off-topic, given that the thread is primarily intended to be concerned with Charing Cross station).
 

Trackman

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Six does the trick in my book, even at busy times. It's my favourite London station to get home or vice versa.
London Bridge I avoid like the plague.
 

yorksrob

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Charing Cross is also handy for a stroll from the Northern terminals. It really is a great little station.
 

ABB125

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There’s only 6 terminating platforms at London Bridge, too.

And to emphasise the point, Cannon St and its 7 platforms has lower capacity than Charing Cross...
What's the reason for Canon Street's lower capacity? Is it that there are only three approach tracks instead of four?
 

Horizon22

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What's the reason for Canon Street's lower capacity? Is it that there are only three approach tracks instead of four?

Yes essentially, plus it gets to two by the time you get to London Bridge - although in the rebuild there are now 3 Cannon St facing platforms.

As to the OP's question, its now in an incredibly constrained place. There's some limitation with Hungerford Bridge and Embankment so even if you added extra platforms, you'd still cause a lot of conflicts - crossing into Platform 1 from the Up Slow already stops Platform 2&3 for departing anyway. Over time it's also become prime real estate, so would be monumentally expensive to change, especially with the hotel on top.

Ideally you'd want Cannon St's number of platforms, with Charing X's number of routes!

Six does the trick in my book, even at busy times. It's my favourite London station to get home or vice versa.
London Bridge I avoid like the plague.

Six just about does the trick, but in the peak you are talking about platforms being unoccupied for usually just 3 minutes and some exceedingly tight turnarounds. Ewer Street Junction does a lot of heavy lifting past Waterloo East. 7 would be more adequate.

In disruption (not during peak), terminating a train at London Bridge is now a much easier option if it starts getting a bit packed.

This all works because, essentially, the entire Kent timetable is planned around this

It's good planning though - work backwards from your biggest constraint!
Although in the peak it rarely works - anything like a 2+ minute delay anywhere entering New Cross / Tanners Hill and you're causing all sorts of trains to back up. An incredibly fragile service which works on paper yes, but struggled to be delivered (pre-Covid).
 
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Ianno87

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Yes essentially, plus it gets to two by the time you get to London Bridge - although in the rebuild there are now 3 Cannon St facing platforms.

There were 3 before the re-build too.

You might be thinking of the Charing Cross tracks, which had 4 tracks but only 3 platform faces (with no "Platform 7")
 

ChiefPlanner

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Read your history and you will find that Herbert Morrison - then of the GLC in the 1930's had a "thing" about Charing Cross and the "unsightly" bridge and had a campaign to remove both. He was sent packing. Good job.


He did recover his gravitas in the WW2 governance , - but that is another story.
 

Horizon22

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There were 3 before the re-build too.

You might be thinking of the Charing Cross tracks, which had 4 tracks but only 3 platform faces (with no "Platform 7")

Indeed I was - having 4 gives that aforementioned space to turn a late train back.
 

yorksrob

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Read your history and you will find that Herbert Morrison - then of the GLC in the 1930's had a "thing" about Charing Cross and the "unsightly" bridge and had a campaign to remove both. He was sent packing. Good job.


He did recover his gravitas in the WW2 governance , - but that is another story.

Indeed. I don't know why Hungerford Bridge was singled out for criticism. With the exception of Tower Bridge they're all pretty non-descript.

I seem to recall reading about a scheme in the 1950's to replace Waterloo and Charing Cross with a super terminal South of the Thames. Strikes me as a waste of money as well as a worse transport network, so I'm not surprised it never went ahead !
 

Bald Rick

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Is that pre or post the London Bridge re-build? (Appreciate that we are drifting slightly off-topic, given that the thread is primarily intended to be concerned with Charing Cross station).


Post rebuild. The old PSB is in the way.

Indeed I was - having 4 gives that aforementioned space to turn a late train back.

It doesn’t though in the peak, unless everything is up the wall.

Pre rebuild, there were still four Charing Cross tracks at London Bridge, two for each direction. In the peaks, trains alternated between the two tracks (in both directions, in both peaks); I need the Up direction only every other train could call of course.

It’s exactly the same now, and in the peaks all trains call. To turn a train round - which takes at least 7 minutes - you are therefore blocking a platform line for at least 2 services due to call. And they can’t use another platform as that is fully occupied.

Trains do turn round there, but usually only off peak if it is a one off train, or in the peak only if there are service reductions which as a by product make the space to do it.
 
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edwin_m

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Does the new layout and flyover make it easier to bounce back a Charing Cross working in one of the London Bridge terminating platforms instead?
 

Dr_Paul

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Read your history and you will find that Herbert Morrison - then of the GLC in the 1930's had a "thing" about Charing Cross and the "unsightly" bridge and had a campaign to remove both.
It wasn't just Herbert Morrison at the London County Council. Here's Wikipedia.

'By the late-19th century, Charing Cross was seen as being inconveniently placed. In 1889, the newly formed London County Council's John Burns proposed that the station and its approach should be demolished, with a road bridge put in place. The idea gained support with in the council as it would allow the Strand to be widened and put a road crossing over the Thames that could bypass Whitehall. When the SECR went to Parliament asking for an act to strengthen the bridge in 1916, Burns suggested the station was in the wrong place and should be rebuilt on the south side of the Thames. The following year, an act was passed to reconstruct the bridge, with strict conditions about its appearance and a ban on enlarging the station building itself...

'In 1926, the Royal Commission on Cross River Traffic proposed that Hungerford Bridge should be replaced by a double deck road / rail bridge, and a new Charing Cross station built to the east of the old one. The SR approved the idea as it would allow them to expand the station. Two years later, a proposal appeared again to build just a road bridge and relocate the station south of the Thames, as it was significantly cheaper. The Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin urged the SR to accept the proposal, as "a matter of national importance", but the bill failed in 1930 after the select committee did not accept building a new Charing Cross on the south bank. The proposal was formally rejected in 1936 by the London & Home Counties Traffic Advisory Committee, which revived the double-deck bridge option. The plans were all abandoned following the outbreak of World War II.'

There also seems to have been a vendetta against Hungerford Bridge; I've read a few books about the Thames in which the authors complain about its supposed ugliness.
 

yorksrob

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It wasn't just Herbert Morrison at the London County Council. Here's Wikipedia.

'By the late-19th century, Charing Cross was seen as being inconveniently placed. In 1889, the newly formed London County Council's John Burns proposed that the station and its approach should be demolished, with a road bridge put in place. The idea gained support with in the council as it would allow the Strand to be widened and put a road crossing over the Thames that could bypass Whitehall. When the SECR went to Parliament asking for an act to strengthen the bridge in 1916, Burns suggested the station was in the wrong place and should be rebuilt on the south side of the Thames. The following year, an act was passed to reconstruct the bridge, with strict conditions about its appearance and a ban on enlarging the station building itself...

'In 1926, the Royal Commission on Cross River Traffic proposed that Hungerford Bridge should be replaced by a double deck road / rail bridge, and a new Charing Cross station built to the east of the old one. The SR approved the idea as it would allow them to expand the station. Two years later, a proposal appeared again to build just a road bridge and relocate the station south of the Thames, as it was significantly cheaper. The Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin urged the SR to accept the proposal, as "a matter of national importance", but the bill failed in 1930 after the select committee did not accept building a new Charing Cross on the south bank. The proposal was formally rejected in 1936 by the London & Home Counties Traffic Advisory Committee, which revived the double-deck bridge option. The plans were all abandoned following the outbreak of World War II.'

There also seems to have been a vendetta against Hungerford Bridge; I've read a few books about the Thames in which the authors complain about its supposed ugliness.

Given that the first Hungerford Bridge was a road bridge, perhaps it was a case of sour grapes !

Hurrah that the motor lobby were defeated by their own lack of agreement !
 

Bald Rick

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Does the new layout and flyover make it easier to bounce back a Charing Cross working in one of the London Bridge terminating platforms instead?

Not really. All* the flyover does is segregate the Thameslinks from the Charing Cross lines, and of course gets the Thameslinks into the middle of the formation at New Cross Gate without conflicting with down traffic from the terminating platforms.

However, pre rebuild the Charing Cross lines and the low level lines into the terminating platforms were adjacent, as they are now. When services are routed off the CX lines into the terminating platforms it relies on two crossovers for all traffic making the move. It also needs services taking out of the terminating platforms to make space.
* It does quite a lot really!
 
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