#148: Liverpool Street 25/08/2022

Liverpool Street Station

I know this station so well, as it was part of my daily commute from home to London for over 30 years. But it’s when you take a close look that you get to know its ins and outs, as I did when I explored TfL Rail on 15/03/2019 and The Overground on 12/07/2019.

But today, I’m here because the station is the end of the line for Greater Anglia and c2c. Greater Anglia runs services to the east of England into Essex, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk, and the Stansted Express. And c2c operates limited evening and weekend services through Stratford to Barking and onwards.

My first introduction to Liverpool Street station was in 1990 when it was still undergoing extensive modernisation, with scaffolding, temporary lighting and protective sheeting all over the place being the norm. This was when Broad Street station was being demolished and merged with Liverpool Street station, the cost of which was paid through a land deal to develop the Broadgate Centre. But let me take you back to the beginning of this station.

Why is it called Liverpool Street?

The easy answer is that it was built with access to Liverpool Street. The street was named after Robert Jenkinson, the 2nd Earl of Liverpool, who was Prime Minister in 1829.

The station opened in 1875 to serve the growing demand for rail travel from the east of London and was built on land previously occupied by the Bedlam Hospital. Fast forward nearly 150 years, and excavation works during the construction of Crossrail revealed the hospital’s mass burial ground of several hundred people dating from the 17th century.

A lot has happened in those150 years. The rail operating companies, for starters. Life began with the Great Eastern Railway (GER), which merged with other companies in 1923 to become the London North Eastern Railway (LNER). Nationalisation of the rail network in 1948 saw the name change to British Railways, but the network’s privatisation in 1996 saw its next name change to the Great North Eastern Railway (GNER).

Stay with me. The speed of change of operating companies accelerated during a difficult franchising period. GNER became National Express branded as ‘One’, Greater Anglia and Abellio Greater Anglia. Phew!

Continuing Development

As you’d expect, the station is a mix of old and new. The original station sheds provide platforms for London Overground and Greater Anglia trains. That’s because of the three main lines into the station, London Overground uses the first line, which was once the route into Broad Street station.

The second (middle) line is used for most of all Greater Anglia services and the Stansted Express, which I ride on a later journey exploring Tottenham Hale. I did stop and ask a train driver to explain the apparent randomness of some windows on his train as they appeared different to all the others. He pointed out that where the train carriages are fixed together (not coupled), they provide additional escape routes in the event of an accident.

The station platforms are busy. I didn’t count the time between arrival/departure, but I noticed none of the commuters looked up. Why would they, as they are focussed on their journey and fumble for their phones or tickets to exit the barriers? But if they had, they would get this fantastic view of the vaulted and glazed roof – almost cathedral-esque?

The third line enters the station into a low-lying roofed shed where passengers will see these lights that float overhead, making their route along platforms 11 to 17 bright and easy. Their symmetrical shapes add a sense of design to an otherwise gloomy space. Well, I think so!

During my 30 years commuting through the station, I was amazed at the skilful construction work that took place overhead without disrupting travel. None more so than the building of Exchange Square at the northern end of the station. I remember when pile driving began, pillars emerged, creating a new tunnel.

The station is managed and operated by Network Rail. It is one of 18 stations they manage across the mainland, and in the first quarter of 2022, it has been their busiest, with over 18 million visitors. So here are a couple of slow-motion photos that capture a few visitors as they make their way through the station.

‘Escalator Service’. Look to the left, even with a slow shutter speed; passengers are captured as if glued to their 21st-century devices.
‘Leaflets’. Have you ever stopped to pick up a leaflet in the concourse? The blurred movement of passengers suggests they haven’t. Do you?

Most recently, the new Elizabeth Line underground station physically connects Liverpool Street station with Moorgate station. And from the 6th of November 2022, trains will run directly from Shenfield to Paddington, with changes at Whitechapel possible to connect with trains to Abbey Wood, Reading and Heathrow.

What next for Liverpool Street?

Network Rail has plans to improve the step-free access for passengers to all the underground platforms with more lifts and a better passenger experience through the station. And whilst plans are still to be revealed, this article from the Architects Journal raises concerns about the proposals. Watch this space, but I wonder if this commentator will see the next round of improvements in his lifetime. 

I end my day a little weary, so why don’t I put my feet up and enjoy the surroundings of Broadgate Exchange Square, just as this woman has?

Picture of the Day – The Three Amigos

Ah, this made me smile. Travelling with the destination board overhead, these three companions have no doubt where they are going as they walk through the east entrance from Bishopsgate.

The moment I saw these ladies walking towards the entrance, I anticipated this opportunity, especially with the destination board hovering in the background. And the image is nicely framed by the ladies walking through the opening.

Having spotted the moment, I had to act quickly to capture the perfect image, so I took a series of quick-fire shots as I stood on the pavement surrounded by the milling travellers. I played with the photos in post-production as I thought an intense black and white image would work best, but I settled on this colour one as its vibrancy helps to make the shot.

What do you think?

  • Location: Liverpool Street Station, Bishopsgate Entrance
  • Date/Time: Thursday, 25th August 2022, 11:35 AM
  • Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture -f/7.1; Shutter Speed – 1/640; Focal Length – 200mm; Film Speed – ISO400

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