The scale of things to come – HS2 station to be the largest station ever built in the UK
21 May 2020
The announcement this week that the Old Oak Common station will be built as the UKs largest station – is a grandiose statement. Especially when we can look back on a grand era of Victoriana and remark on some of their major construction achievements. On balance, everything the Victorians did was bigger and to a certain degree better. With major construction from that era standing the test of time and sticking around to this day. With perhaps only the gauge of railways slightly restrictive – we cheer them as the rest was spot on. The Old Oak Common Station name will become as synonymous for UK public transport for decades to come.
But what does it take to be the largest station in the UK?
One can be forgiven for thinking that Euston is the biggest station, with it multiple lines both over and underground and that distinctive waiting hall where you join masses of commuters gazing up at colossal information screens – eagerly awaiting their outbound train back up north.
You would be wrong though the current mantel for UK’s biggest and busiest station goes to London Waterloo with 24 platforms, Euston only has 18. Larger platform numbers allow the stations to ferry the public around the capital as they go around their journeys. The numbers of which are colossal.
When Old Oak Common comes online it will be a bit different to the traditional stations we are used to. Nestled to the north of Wormwood Scrubs and a stone throw from iconic Wembley Park, the station location is already a massive rail head providing engineering and train operations. A massive sprawling site and a location of historic rail activity, there is a huge preparation job for developers and contractors in clearing and preparing the landscape for the HS2 line and the colossal station.
What construction work will there be?
Work has already begun with existing and outdated rail infrastructure starting to be cleared. To make way for the new station concourse, platforms, and surrounding structures. Cursory overview of the site there will be a lot of waste being moved from demolition, thousands of tonnes of rubble will need to be moved. However, equally the jobs and economic boost to West London will be welcome.
Whilst Old Oak Common HS2 station will be big, it will not have any more platforms than the current largest stations in the UK. Only 14 platforms, servicing a mix of six high speed and eight conventional service platforms. The station will become a super hub, providing connections for the Elizabeth Line, Heathrow Express and trans to further destinations such as Wales and the South West.
But where Old Oak Common varies in comparison to older stations is the sheer size of the construction of an 850-metre-long station box. Looking at the plans the station will be a new breed of transport hub, enabling connection and release from HS2 to the standard rail services.
We cannot help but think that although not such a grand scale as the Old Oak Common HS2 station. The additional HS2 stations up and down the country, will have potential to be as substantial to enable the UK further to embrace the growth needed to move us about and into the future. These are exciting times for the UKs infrastructure.