London Bridge station

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Template:Infobox London station

London Bridge railway station is a central London railway terminus and London Underground complex in the London Borough of Southwark, occupying a large area on two levels immediately south-east of London Bridge and 1.6 miles (2.6 km) east of Charing Cross. The main line station, which is the oldest railway station in central London (current zone 1) and one of the oldest in the world, contains nine terminal platforms and six through platforms for services from the south and south east of London. Through services continue to Charing Cross, Cannon Street or Blackfriars. In terms of passenger arrivals and departures it is the fourth busiest station within London as well as the UK as a whole, handling over 54 million people a year. These statistics do not include the many commuters who transfer between lines at the station.

The mainline station is one of 17 railway stations managed by Network Rail All platforms are accessed through ticket barriers.

The London Underground station serves the Jubilee line and the Bank branch of the Northern line. It consists of a ticket hall and entrance area with its main frontage on Tooley Street, along with entrances and exits on Borough High Street, as well as within the mainline station concourse and the corridor under the through platforms (currently 1-6).

The station is in Travelcard Zone 1. London Bridge is one of two mainline termini in London to the south of the River Thames, the other being Waterloo. For this reason, neither has a direct connection to the Circle line.


London Bridge station was opened as the London station on 14 December 1836 south of the river Thames in Tooley Street, making it the first and oldest of the current London railway termini. It was not the earliest station in the present London metropolitan area, as the London and Greenwich Railway opened stations first at Spa Road (Bermondsey) and Template:Stnlnk on 8 February 1836. Delays in the completion of a bridge at Bermondsey Street postponed the opening of the line into London Bridge station until December. This meant that by September 1836 trains were able to operate as far as the east end of Bermondsey Street bridge, but no further, with passengers having to walk the last hundred or so yards. Since then the station has had a most complex history, involving frequent rebuilding and changes of ownership.

Original London and Greenwich Railway station

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The original London and Greenwich Railway station at the time of the opening of the line in December 1836 before the roof was erected, and before the ground in front of the group of spectators was cleared to build the original Croydon station

The original station was built with a wooden trussed pitched roof, 56 ft by 212 ft (17m by 65m), shortly after opening. However, prior to its completion, the London and Greenwich Railway entered into an agreement with the proposed London and Croydon Railway for the latter to use its tracks from Corbett's Lane Bermondsey and to share its station. The Greenwich railway had however underestimated the cost of building the long viaduct leading to London Bridge and was not able to build a sufficiently large station for the traffic for both companies, and so in July 1836 it sold some land adjacent to its station (then still under construction) to the Croydon railway to build their own independent station.

London and Croydon Railway station

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A 1908 Railway Clearing House map of lines around the approaches to London Bridge

The London and Brighton Railway and the South Eastern Railway (UK) (SER) were also then planning routes from London to Brighton and Dover respectively, and the British Parliament decided that the London and Greenwich line should become the entry corridor into London from South East England. Thus these two railways were required to share the route of the London and Croydon Railway from near Norwood (which in turn shared the route of the London and Greenwich Railway from Bermondsey to London Bridge). As a result, in 1838 the London and Croydon Railway obtained powers to enlarge the station it was then constructing at London Bridge, even before it had opened for traffic.

The London and Croydon Railway opened its line and began using its station on 5 June 1839, the London and Brighton Railway joined it in July 1841, followed by the South Eastern Railway in December 1842. Fairly quickly it was found that the viaduct approaching London Bridge would be inadequate to deal with the traffic generated by four railways and so between 1840 and 1842 the Greenwich railway widened it, doubling the number of tracks to four. The new lines, intended for the Croydon, Brighton and South Eastern trains, were situated on the south side of the existing Greenwich line, whereas their station was to the north of the London Bridge site, giving rise to an awkward and potentially dangerous crossing of one another's lines. The directors of the companies involved therefore decided to exchange the station sites. The London and Greenwich Railway would take over the newly completed London and Croydon Railway station, whilst a new joint committee of the Croydon, Brighton and South Eastern companies would demolish the first station and build a new joint station on its site.

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The proposed London Bridge joint station c. 1844
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The joint stations c. 1858-60

Joint station

Plans for a large new station were drawn up and drawings were published in the Illustrated London News and George Bradshaw's Guide to the London and Brighton Railway 1844. They show 'a quasi-Italianate building building with a picturesque campanile'. It opened for business in July 1844 while only partially complete, but events were taking place which would mean that the bell tower would never be built, and the new building would only last five years.

In 1843 the South Eastern, and the Croydon railway companies became increasingly concerned by the high tolls charged by the London and Greenwich Railway for the use of the station approaches, and gained Parliamentary approval to build their own independent line into south London to a new station at Bricklayer's Arms. This line opened in 1844 and most of the services from these two companies were withdrawn from London Bridge, leaving only the Greenwich and Brighton companies using London Bridge station. The Greenwich company, which was in financial difficulties beforehand, was on the brink of bankruptcy and so was forced to lease its lines to the South Eastern Railway, which took effect from January 1845. The following year the Croydon and Brighton companies merged with others to form the London Brighton and South Coast Railway (LB&SCR). As a result of these amalgamations, there were now only two companies wishing to use the two adjoining stations at London Bridge. As a result the LB&SCR used the unfinished joint station until 1849, when it was demolished to make way for an enlarged station.

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The South Eastern Station (left) and the temporary Brighton station c. 1850 after the demolition of the Joint station

South Eastern Railway station

The SER took over the second London and Greenwich station (which had been built for the London and Croydon Railway) and sought to develop that site rather than continue to invest in the former joint station, which became the property of the LB&SCR. The SER station was therefore rebuilt and enlarged between 1847 and 1850, to a design by Samuel Beazley. At the same time yet further improvements were made to the station approaches, increasing the number of tracks to six, which entirely separated the lines of the two railways. Once these extensions were complete the SER closed its passenger terminus at Bricklayer's Arms and converted the site into a goods depot.

London Bridge station remained the London terminus of the SER until 1864 when its station was again rebuilt and five of the existing platforms were converted into a through station to enable the extension of the main line into central London and the opening of Charing Cross railway station, and in 1866 to Cannon Street station. In 1899 the SER entered into a working amalgamation with the London Chatham and Dover Railway (LC&DR) to form the South Eastern and Chatham Railway Companies Joint Management Committee. Junctions were laid to enable trains through London Bridge to reach the LC&DR stations at Holborn Viaduct and St Pauls.

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The London Brighton and South Coast Railway station c. 1853

London Brighton and South Coast Railway station

The LB&SCR took over the unfinished joint station, which they demolished in 1849 and opened a temporary station in 1850. This was rebuilt and enlarged in 1853-4 to deal with the additional traffic from the lines to Sydenham and Template:Stnlnk. A three-storey box-like structure was erected, with the name of the railway emblazoned on the top parapet.

In 1859 the London Chatham and Dover Railway applied to the LB&SCR for running powers from Sydenham to London Bridge, but was refused. However, some ticketing arrangement was made between the two companies as the LC&DR advertised connections to and from London Bridge in its timetables in The Times and Bradshaw's Railway Guide for July 1861. This arrangement was short-lived pending the construction of the LC&DR line to Holborn Viaduct. The LB&SCR also built the Terminus Hotel at the station in 1861, but this was not successful due to its site on the south bank of the river and so was turned into offices for the railway in 1892.

An Act of Parliament of 1862 gave the LB&SCR power to enlarge the station further. Over the next few years under the direction of new Chief Engineer Frederick Banister,<ref name=GGBanister>Template:Cite web</ref> the company built four more platforms in an adjoining area to the south of its existing station to cope with additional traffic generated by the completion of the South London line and other suburban lines to Victoria station. This had a single-span trussed-arch roof measuring 88 ft by 655 ft (27m by 200m), and was designed by J. Hawkshaw and Banister.<ref name=GGBanister/> During the first decade of the twentieth century LB&SCR station at London Bridge was again enlarged, but overall London Bridge station remained a sprawling confusion.

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The station in 1922 shortly before Southern Railway ownership.

The chaotic nature of the station at the turn of the century was described in John Davidson's poem, ‘’London Bridge’’

... Inside the station, everything's so old,
So inconvenient, of such manifold
Perplexity, and, as a mole might see,
So strictly what a station shouldn't be,
That no idea minifies its crude
And yet elaborate ineptitude. ...

The LB&SCR electrified the South London Line from London Bridge to Victoria in 1909 using an overhead system. Once this experiment proved to be successful other suburban services from the station were electrified, including the lines to Crystal Palace in 1912. Electrification of the main line to Croydon was not however completed until 1920 due to delays resulting from the First World War.

Southern Railway station

The grouping of the railways of southern England to form the Southern Railway in 1923 at last brought the two adjoining stations under single ownership. Between 1926 and 1928 the Southern Railway electrified the SE&CR suburban lines at London Bridge using a Third rail electric system, and converted the existing LB&SCR routes to the same system. At the same time it installed colour light signalling. The Southern Railway electrified the Brighton Main Line services to Brighton and the South Coast in 1932/3, so that by 1936 90% of trains at the station were electric.

Both the London Bridge stations were badly damaged by bombing in the London Blitz in December 1940 and early 1941. The shell of the two stations was patched up but the former Terminal Hotel, then used as railway offices, was rendered unsafe and demolished.

British Railways station

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Central Section concourse before the 1978 rebuilding
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The station approach before the 1978 rebuilding

British Railways, which took over responsibility for the station in 1948, continued the electrification of the lines from London Bridge during the 1950s and 1960s. However, by the early 1970s the station could no longer cope with the volume of traffic. Thus between 1972 and 1978, British Rail (as it was then known) undertook a major redevelopment of the station and its approaches. This included a £21 million re-signalling scheme, and a new station concourse designed by N. D. T. Wikeley, regional architect for the Southern Region. This was opened 14 December 1978. New awnings were added over the former S.E.R. platforms, but the arched Brighton roof was retained. It has been described as "one of the best modern station reconstructions in Britain."

National Rail

thumb The through platforms, 1-6, are on the north side of the station. Platforms 1-3 are served by trains starting and ending at Template:LUL stations. Services to and from Template:Stnlnk use platforms 4-6 and a passing loop to the south of Platform 6. Platforms 5 & 6 are also served by First Capital Connect with its Thameslink Template:Stnlnk to Brighton services via Luton, St Albans, St Pancras International, Template:LUL stations, City Thameslink, Template:LUL stations and Gatwick Airport. Platform 6 is the busiest railway platform in Europe, due to the necessity of routing all trains heading to Charing Cross and Template:LUL stations through it.

Platforms 1-6 were extended to accommodate 12 car trains in the early 1990s, when slam-door suburban rolling stock was being replaced. The track realignment necessary to achieve the platform extensions encroached on the track approaching platform 7, a terminal platform. The platform, which used to be the opposite face of an island with platform 8, was taken out of use and the track-bed filled in.

The terminal platforms, 8-13, are on the south side of the station and are mostly served by Southern services to south London and the south coast. Platforms 14-16 are currently (as of July 2013) closed as part of the rebuilding work.


Template:Railways around South Bank RDT As of December 2011 the typical off-peak service from the station is:

First Capital Connect
  • 4tph (trains per hour) to Template:Stnlnk
  • 4tph to Brighton (2tph semi-fast services, 2tph stopping services)
  • 16tph to London Charing Cross
  • 14tph to London Cannon Street
  • 2tph to Template:Stnlnk via Template:Stnlnk
  • 2tph to Template:Stnlnk via Greenwich, then Barnehurst and returns to Cannon Street via Bexleyheath
  • 2tph to Slade Green via Greenwich, then Crayford and returns to Cannon Street via Sidcup
  • 2tph to Dartford via Bexleyheath
  • 2tph to Barnehurst via Bexleyheath, then Slade Green and returns to Cannon Street via Greenwich
  • 2tph to Hayes avoiding Template:Stnlnk
  • 2tph to Hayes via Lewisham
  • 2tph to Gravesend via Sidcup
  • 2tph to Crayford via Sidcup, then Slade Green and returns to Cannon Street via Greenwich
  • 2tph to Gillingham via Lewisham and Woolwich Arsenal
  • 2tph to Orpington via Lewisham
  • 2tph to Sevenoaks via Orpington
  • 2tph to Tunbridge Wells via Sevenoaks
  • 2tph to Hastings via Tunbridge Wells
  • 1 tph Dover and Template:Stnlnk, dividing at Template:Stnlnk
  • 1 tph Template:Stnlnk via Dover and Canterbury West, dividing at Ashford International

Weekends and Weekdays

  • 2tph to London Victoria via Template:Stnlnk
  • 2tph to West Croydon via Template:Stnlnk
  • 2tph to Caterham via Template:Stnlnk
  • 2tph to Tattenham Corner
  • 2tph to Beckenham Junction via Crystal Palace
  • 2tph to Horsham via Redhill
  • 1tph to Uckfield via Oxted
  • 1tph to Tonbridge via Redhill
  • 1tph to Reigate via Redhill


  • 2tph to Brighton via Haywards Heath
  • 2tph to Sutton via West Croydon
  • 3tpd to Littlehampton via Hove
  • 2tpd to Eastbourne via Lewes
  • 1tph to Southampton Central via Horsham

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London Underground

Template:Infobox London station

The Underground station is between Template:LUL stations and Bank on the Northern Line, and between Template:LUL stations and Template:LUL stations on the Jubilee Line. The station is the sixth busiest on the Underground network and is the only station on the London Underground network with 'London' in its name (while the NR termini are named, for instance 'London Waterloo' the Underground station is simply named 'Waterloo').

Originally Northern Line trains ran to a terminus at Template:LUL stations bypassing London Bridge, but the construction of a new station at Bank to provide greater capacity and allow northward extension required a new tunnel alignment, and provided the opportunity for a station at London Bridge. The station entrance was originally at Three Castles House on the corner of London Bridge Street and Railway Approach, but has since been moved to Borough High Street and Tooley Street. The original entrance remained standing until March 2013 when it was demolished.

The Northern Line platforms were rebuilt during the late 1990s to increase the platform and circulation areas in preparation for the opening of the Jubilee Line.

The Northern Line station opened on 25 February 1900 as part of the City & South London Railway's (C&SLR's) revised route from Borough to Bank and Moorgate. The Jubilee Line station opened on 7 October 1999 as part of the Jubilee Line Extension, although trains had been running through non-stop from the previous month. To enable the Jubilee Line to be constructed, months of major engineering works to relocate buried services in the surrounding streets had to be undertaken. A new ticket hall was created in the arches under the main-line station, providing improved interchange. During excavations a variety of Roman remains were found, including pottery and fragments of mosaics; some of these are now on display in the station. The Jubilee Line platforms have been fitted with platform edge doors in common with all other stations on the extension.

There are two platforms on each line and two main sets of escalators to and from the Tooley Street ticket hall. All four platforms are directly accessible from the Borough High Street entrance/exit.

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River Service/London Bridge City Pier

London River Services London Bridge City Pier on the River Thames is slightly north of the station. It is served by Thames Clipper river boat services to Canary Wharf, Greenwich and the O2 in the east, and Embankment to the west.

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Transport links

There is a bus station on the station forecourt.

London Bridge is served by the following London bus routes:

Routes Destination Destination
17 Archway station
21 Lewisham Newington Green
35 Clapham Junction Shoreditch
40 Aldgate Dulwich
43^ Friern Barnet
47 Catford Shoreditch
48 Walthamstow Central
133 Liverpool Street Streatham
141 Palmers Green
149^ Edmonton Green
343 City Hall New Cross Gate
381 County Hall Peckham
521† Waterloo
RV1 Covent Garden Tower Gateway

London Bridge is also served by the following Night London Bus Routes:

Routes Destination Destination
N21 Bexleyheath Trafalgar Square
N35 Clapham Junction Tottenham Court Road
N47 St. Mary Cray Trafalgar Square
N133 Liverpool Street Mitcham
N381 Peckham Trafalgar Square

^ Operates 24 hours a day.

† Operates Monday to Friday only.

2013-18 rebuild

thumb Template:See also London Bridge station will undergo a major transformation as part of a wider project known as Masterplan to accommodate longer 12-car Thameslink programme trains and provide many other benefits. Three terminus platforms will be closed and three new through platforms created to allow additional services to continue either to Cannon Street or Charing Cross, or to Blackfriars and onwards via the Thameslink route.

A new station concourse will be built to improve circulation; this will require the demolition of brick vaults between Stainer and Weston Streets, which will themselves become part of the new concourse (and therefore cease to be thoroughfares). The space relinquished by the existing concourse will allow Network Rail to expand the adjacent bus station, and new retail facilities will be built into the existing western arcade, which will be re-opened and extended to link the Underground station and Joiner Street.

Work will start in 2013 and is not expected to be complete until 2018. During these works it is expected that Thameslink trains will be diverted via Template:Stnlnk and will not call at London Bridge.

The increase in through platforms will also allow London Bridge to function as an emergency terminus for services approaching the station from the west. To accommodate these alterations, the listed northern wall of the terminus train-shed will be demolished and replaced with a new retaining wall, and the listed bays of the roof over the terminating platform will be dismantled and stored.

Accidents and incidents

There have been 36 recorded railway accidents at London Bridge, the earliest on 6 December 1850 and the latest 22 October 1956, but relatively few of these have involved fatalities.Template:Citation needed The most serious accidents are as follows:

  • On 1 February 1884, the 12:05pm London Bridge to Victoria hauled by LBSC Terrier No.71 Wapping collided with a D1 tank which was fouling the exit from the platform. Two carriages derailed.<ref name=Terrier/>
  • On 27 November 1895, a local train hauled by LB&SCR Terrier No. 70 Poplar collided with the buffer stops.<ref name=Terrier>Template:Cite book</ref>
  • At 09:30 on 23 January 1948, a train formed of a 6PAN and a 6PUL unit, which had formed that day's 08:05 from Seaford and 07:30 from Ore, was allowed to draw up to the inner home signal, where it should have stopped. Instead it overran the signal and collided at a speed of between 15 and 20 mph (24 to 32 km/h) with the empty stock which had formed the 08:20 from Brighton. This train was formed of two 6PAN units. The train that was struck was forced through the buffers and demolished a bookstall. Three people were killed and 34 were injured.<ref name = Crash>Template:Cite book</ref>
  • On 28 February 1992, a bomb planted by the IRA exploded at the station, injuring 29 people.



External links

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Thameslink Programme publicity:

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