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Pressure mounts to finish King's Cross ticket hall

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MINISTERS THIS week came under increasing pressure to commit to the completion of London Underground's King's Cross ticket hall after putting work on hold in January.

Department for Transport officials are understood to be considering a review of the £250M phase two enlargement, carried out by consultant Mott Parsons Gibb.

This is thought to have examined passenger forecasts, costs and the impact of postponing the scheme further, to determine whether phase two should be cancelled, delayed or continue immediately.

But Camden Borough Council said this week that construction should go ahead as soon as possible.

'The northern ticket hall is fundamental. It is crazy to spend all this money on the CTRL (Channel Tunnel Rail Link) and work at King's Cross and not finish the job, ' Bob West, head of planning at Camden Council's King's Cross team, told NCE.

Chair of the Greater London Assembly transport committee Lynne Featherstone also expressed concern over the scheme.

'It would be appalling if the project did not go ahead.

Construction has now lost eight months and it will cost an arm and a leg to stop and restart it, ' she said.

Construction of the new ticket hall was halted in January when transport minister Kim Howells announced a review of phase two of the station redevelopment (NCE 5 February). Mott Parsons Gibb was commissioned to carry out the review and report back in the summer.

The first phase of the scheme, to enlarge the existing Tube ticket hall and build a new ticket hall to the west of the site, is still under way. The second phase would add a new hall to receive CTRL and Kent commuter passengers on the north of the site.

'It is an essential part of the overall station redevelopment.

It will allow safe and easy passenger dispersal from the mainline stations and make the underground station much safer, ' said West.

'Eurostar and Thameslink services will both generate lots more people moving around the station. By all calculations this ticket hall will be needed by 2010 at the latest, ' he continued.

'If it is not delivered now it will be too late to come along and retrofit in 10 years time.'

The ticket hall is also integral to the London Olympic bid, he said.

'If London wins the bid, the quickest way to get people to the Games will be on a shuttle service along the new high speed track. The northern ticket hall has to be there to push people out to the trains as quickly as possible, ' said West.

Alongside additional capacity, the northern ticket hall will provide the only lift access down to the deep level Northern, Victoria and Piccadilly line tubes.

These are critical for mobility impaired customers and guide dog users (NCE 5 March).

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