In Praise of Euston Station

I know it is not often that you hear people say this, but I do really like Euston station – from an interpreted transport perspective, it is a good example of a well-thought through hub.

Starting underground, two of the three tube lines are arranged to enable easy transfer from one southbound line to another and vice versa. Access to the main hall is step free, gliding up a succession of three escalators. Arriving by bus is just as easy, with a major bus hub just outside the station. And arriving by taxi (a recent discovery, this) your vehicle descends a steep slope and places you in the bowels of the station, ready to pop up into the station concourse

And what a concourse. I read that the job of a station concourse at a station terminus is to allow the industrial landscape of the railways to meet the urban landscape of the city. At Euston, it does this by providing a modernist airy hall where all the commuters emerging from their various points of entry can come up for air, before scurrying off. Sure, it is not the arching glory of its neighbours in this part of town, but it is worth trying to imagine what the station looked like before the addition of the kiosks which clutter the space. The underlying design is quite simple and elegant. A nod of decoration ca be found in the ticket hall (pictured).

The train platforms are not a thing of beauty, but they are functional and wide, allowing enough space for vehicle access – presumably a relic from a time when Car+Train was still a vision. Passengers wait in the main station concourse, protected from the elements rather than on the platform. The design allows the space above to be used as a postal depot, allowing further integration on a tight site.

Sure, Euston has it faults. It is functional but struggles to compete in the Marylebone/Euston Road beauty pageant (London Bridge, Cannon Street, Fenchurch Street, Victoria, can you do any better?), there is no wheelchair access (ditto). It is not connected to the metropolitan Line (why?). Pedestrian access to the square in front of the station is needlessly restrictive.

It seems sacrilegious among railway enthusiasts to praise the current edifice because it’s construction necessitated the demolition of the old Victorian structure in order to make way for longer platforms. But since it looks like the station as we now know it is going to be demolished to make way for High Speed 2, let us at least give credit where credit is due.

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