02 December 2007
What St Pancras will be doing when it’s finished
Brian Micklethwait

Further to the previous posting, I took some pictures last week of St Pancras, and mentioned as an afterthought, that the place didn’t look entirely finished.  Fellow Transport Blogger Michael Jennings responded thus:

It is also worth observing that as well as being unfinished in the sense of shops not open and stuff like that, the station is very much unfinished in an operational sense as well. When St Pancras is finished, there will be four sets of services running from it. The first set is the long standing Midland Mainline services to places like Derby and Sheffield. The second set is the Eurostar services to continental Europe. The third is the Thameslink services, which will move from the present disgusting station in Pentonville Rd to a new set of platforms at St Pancras underneath the main station on December 9. Then in a couple of years time high speed domestic services to Kent (which will be operating Japanese Shinkansen “bullet trains” by the way) will start operating from more platforms inside the main old trainshed. And finally, the Thameslink line is going to be upgraded in the next few years to at least quadruple its capacity, which is going to mean that a large range of services to Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Surrey, Sussex, and Kent will be operating from St Pancras as well.

The point is that when all this happens, St Pancras will be just about the most important domestic station in London, even regardless of the international services.

I want to press Michael on the Shinkansen thing.  Will trains travel towards Kent at three hundred miles an hour, like in Japan, or will they trundle about the countryside at a mere hundred and fifty miles an hour?


  1. The Japanese have done a fine job of making people believe that their trains travel at 300mph, but actually they don’t. The Shinkansen is an older system than the French TGV or German ICE, and as a consequence actually generally operates a little slower than either. (There are some express Shinkansen that are of comparable speed, but even these only do about 190mph). The Kent services will do around 140mph, which is a little slower than the Eurostars, actually, but is comparable with the speed of Shinkansen trains in Japan. The trains are a modified version of the Shinkansen series 400. I still think they will be really cool.

    For high speed trains, you really have a choice of French, German, or Japanese rolling stock. For the CTRL domestic services, Hitachi of Japan made the best bid, so Japanese rolling stock is what we are getting. Interestingly enough, Deutsche Bahn has clear ambitions to run services to London through the Channel Tunnel (possibly from Amsterdam, possibly from Cologne). It may well be that a few years down the line we see rolling stock of all three nationalities at St Pancras.

    Posted by MIchael Jennings on  02 December 2007 at 03:16 pm

  2. I’m a bit puzzled by all this because my understanding is that the TGV (ie Eurostar) has some special kind of in-cab signalling which implies that it is unique.  I presume Shinkansen’s have something similar but different.  So, have the Javelins had to be adapted to accept TGV signalling?

    Posted by Patrick Crozier on  02 December 2007 at 03:38 pm

  3. To answer my own question: it would appear that they do.

    Posted by Patrick Crozier on  02 December 2007 at 03:43 pm

  4. My understanding is that both TGV derived trains (Thalys) and German ICE trains use the high speed line between Brussels and Cologne. (I have seen ICE trains at Brussels Midi, so I guess they have to). Also, the Spanish bought ICE derived trains for their second batch of AVE rolling stock. (The first batch were TGV dervived). Does this mean that there are also ICE trains in service using the French in cab signalling system?)

    Posted by MIchael Jennings on  03 December 2007 at 05:33 am

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