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Passenger forecasts undermine King's Cross Tube upgrade

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LOWER THAN expected passenger numbers could lead to the indefinite postponement of the £250M second phase of the King's Cross Underground Station, upgrade contractors said this week.

The Department for Transport is reviewing phase two of the project because increases in passenger numbers are expected to fall short of earlier forecasts.

Phase two covers the northern ticket hall and is intended to increase capacity by improving access to the Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria Underground Lines.

Costs for this work have doubled to £250M since the project began (NCE 5 February).

King's Cross Underground handles 55,000 passengers during the morning peak.

This was expected to rise to about 82,000 by 2012, swelled by the start of Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) services into neighbouring St Pancras in 2007 and the upgrade of the Thameslink commuter line.

But current passenger forecasts fall short of original projections and the Department for Transport is now understood to be recalculating these.

'When the northern ticket hall was originally given the go ahead, it was based on recommendations arising from the Fennel Inquiry and Channel Tunnel Rail Link capacity based on figures of the time, ' Metronet SSL senior station capacity planner Mike Crabtree told a Railway Civil Engineers Association meeting at the ICE.

Metronet took over the project from London Underground last year as part of the privately financed plan to upgrade the Tube.

'But Eurostar numbers aren't as high as envisaged, rolling stock for the North Kent commuter trains will not be functional until at least 2007 and Thameslink 2000 hasn't even happened, ' Crabtree said.

'We now know more definitely what trains are or will be in service and realise that some of the assumptions were incorrect.'

Work on phase two was programmed to enable the station to handle 27,000 more passengers during the 8am to 10am peak.

This would have boosted capacity from 55,000 to 82,000.

INFOPLUS For more on NCE's Stop the Transport Cuts Campaign see p18 or go to www. nceplus.co.uk

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