Style station

‘Nothing can be finer than the quality of the work, both in brick and stone. Great care has been taken in preserving the bond of the brickwork, and every piece of cut work is beautifully wrought.’

This is what The Engineer wrote about St Pancras Station before its inauguration 140 years ago, and it could easily apply to the station’s second opening this week.

On November 14, the listed construction (its Grade 1 status puts it on a par with the Palace of Westminster) will open its platforms to international travellers, who will find their 306-mile (492km) journey from London to Paris cut by 20 minutes to two hours 15 minutes on the 186mph (300kph) trains.

The William Barlow and Rowland Ordish ‘train shed’, first opened in 1868, held the world record for the largest enclosed space for a number of years. Now the Gothic-style shed has been restored to its award-winning days under the meticulous eye of UK rail architect Alastair Lansley.

The work, which used 10,000m2 of glass panelling and 300,000 handcrafted Welsh slates, cost £800m.

The station houses 15 international and domestic platforms and 24,994m2 of retail space and its roof is 210m long x 30.5m high x 74.1m wide. A glass extension was designed to accommodate the 18-passenger carriage Eurostar trains.

It was Lansley’s idea to open up the station’s former beer ‘cellarage’. The undercroft, which could once hold 28 million pints, is now an area for passengers to access Eurostar ticket machines, check-in points and security controls. Daylight enters from above through incisions in the platform floor.

Once on Eurostar, travellers will benefit from a gamut of engineering achievements. Over 11 years, engineers worked for more than 100 million hours, removing 15 million cubic metresof earth from 60km of tunnels through east London and Kent.

They also laid 499km of track, five million sleepers and 298km of communication cables; not to mention the bridges the engineers ‘slid’ — the rapid transference of large structures from offline construction into permanent position — and the 13 listed buildings they shifted along the way.