Travel and Transport at King's Cross St Pancras during the London 2012 Olympics & Paralympics

If you are using the King's Cross St Pancras transport hub to get to an Olympic or Paralympic event, then use this guide to help you find your way. If you are a regular commuter or local resident, find out when and where there might be problems on public transport or on the roads.

Please note that you make use of the information on this page at your own risk and we cannot be held responsible for any inconvenience or loss resulting from its use.

Javelin Train

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Paralympics update:

The information on this page was originally written for the Olympics. Much of it is still relevant, but please note the following:

  • Roads: unlike the Olympic Route Network, the Paralympic Route Network (PRN) does not come near King's Cross
  • Rail: the Javelin Trains are the fastest way to get from King's Cross St Pancras to the Olympic Park. They are still running to an increased timetable, although there are some gaps of upto 15 minutes between trains, even at peak times. The full timetable can be downloaded here.
  • Javelin train queues: During the Olympics, there were queues for the Javelin trains from around 8-9am, although on most days these were reasonably fast-moving. We posted this guide to beating the queues, and will update it if things change for the Paralympics.
  • Tickets: Games Travelcards can be used on Javelin trains as well as on the tube, buses etc. If you don't have a Ganmes Travelcard because you have print at home Paralympics tickets or are picking up from your venue you can still travel on the Javelin and the tube: more details here.
  • Tube: the nightmare scenario of massive overcrowding and waits of upto 30 minutes to get on tube trains never materialised during the Olympics, and hopefully won't during the Paralympics. However, with more people back at work (and school) and huge Paralympic ticket sales, we can't yet be sure that problems won't happen. The revised projections for waiting times to board a tube "if people don't change their travel patterns" can be found here.

Previous updates:

Read our 3rd August update: How to beat the Javelin queues
31st July update: Roads quiet, no delays or queues on the tube. The Javelin Trains experienced some delays due to a passenger incident, but queues at St Pancras did not build up that much. Javelin trains from St Pancras continue to be uncrowded.
Read our 30th July update: So far so good, mostly

Click a heading or scroll down the page:

Introduction: it's going to be busy

With 27 overground rail platforms, 6 underground lines and 14 bus routes, King's Cross St Pancras is already the busiest transport hub in the UK.

The "Get Ahead of the Games" (GAOTG) campaign is pushing a strong message to commuters and businesses to encourage homeworking and alternative commuting routes, but King's Cross is surely going to see a net increase in passenger numbers, possibly a very big one, because:

  • Some parts of London are a bit quieter in the summer but King's Cross is always busy with tourists and travellers and passing through and is home to many hotels and hostels.
  • For the Olympics, London is expected to have a million extra visitors a day. Many of these visitors will arrive here or pass through as they move around the city.
  • The high speed (6 minute) Javelin service runs from St Pancras to Stratford International, the fastest public transport link from central London to the Olympic Park.

On the roads:

  • King's Cross is already a traffic blackspot where 5 main roads from the north, south and east are squeezed between the railways and the congestion charge zone onto the Euston Road.
  • The core Olympic Route Network and restricted use Games Lanes come close to King's Cross (see PDF map).
  • On 7 days during the Olympics, the ORN is diverted through King's Cross itself because road race events are taking place on core ORN routes.

Going to the Olympic Park

How do I get to the Olympic Park and Stadium from King's Cross St Pancras?

High Speed Javelin Trains

The quickest public transport route from King's Cross St Pancras to the Olympic Park is by Southeastern Trains' "Javelin" service, which runs from Platforms 11-13 at St Pancras International to Stratford International (the nearest station to the Olympic Park) and takes just 6 minutes.

Platforms 11-13 are at the northern end of St Pancras, furthest away from the Euston Road. They are on the upper level and accessed by escalators. Follow signs for Southeastern trains or pink Olympic signs.

Update: some of the pink Javelin sign are very confusing! See our 30th July travel update page for more details.

During the Olympics, the Javelin trains will run 24 hours a day and between 7am and 11pm will leave St Pancras every 7 minutes so there isn't really any need to check the timetable although you can find it in this PDF.

Update: The timetable for the Paralympics is slightly less frequent, but still handling the demand most of the time. The timetable is still at the same PDF link above

Will the Javelin trains will be too crowded to get onto?

According to this Guardian article from 25th May it is a real possibility that "The high-speed train service taking spectators from central London to the Olympic Park is likely to become so inundated that rail bosses have made contingency plans to turn thousands of passengers away at peak times."

On the other hand, the train manufacturer claims a capacity of 862 people per train (see this PDF) and double length trains are going to be used, making space for over 1700 people. So in theory nearly 14,000 people per hour can leave St Pancras on the service. It is possible that getting over 1700 people through the barriers and onto a train every 7 minutes (as well as allowing arriving passengers to get off) may be as big a constraint as train capacity.

We'll just have to see how many people turn up at peak times and will update this page when the situation becomes clearer, and tweet live information when possible.

Whatever happens, you can be reasonably certain that there will be long queues for these trains at busy times, but hopefully they will move quickly.

What other ways can I get to the Olympic Park and Stadium from King's Cross?

If the queues for the Javelin are too long, Stratford station can be reached by the following tube and overground services that are normally easy to get to from King's Cross St Pancras. If the underground is closed due to overcrowding then overground services from Liverpool Street can be reached by bus as well as tube, and Caledonian Road & Barnsbury station can be reached by bus or on foot.

1. Underground: Central Line eastbound
The Central line can be reached via the Hammersmith & City/Metropolitan/Circle lines changing at Liverpool Street or via the Piccadilly Line changing at Holborn. Holborn can also be reached on the 59 or 91 buses from bus stop A in Euston Road (see our bus page and TFL's bus stop live departures). See below for buses to Liverpool Street.

2. Overground: Greater Anglia trains from Liverpool Street Station
Journey time: 7 minutes
Frequency: very frequent service (every 2 to 10 minutes)
Liverpool Street can be reached via the Hammersmith & City/Metropolitan/Circle lines or on the 205 or 214 buses from bus stop E in Euston Road (see our bus page and TFL's bus stop live departures).

3. Overground: London Overground from Caledonian Road & Barnsbury Station
Journey time: 20 minutes
Frequency: frequent service (every 10 minutes, see PDF timetable)
Caledonian Road & Barnsbury station is 1 mile from King's Cross, which is a 20 minute walk (see these Google Maps directions) or a short bus ride from bus stop G in York Way on the 17, 91 or 259 buses (see our bus page and TFL's bus stop live departures).

How do I get to other London Olympic venues from King's Cross?

Here are some suggested routes for reaching other Olympic venues in London. In many cases alternative routes are available. See the London 2012 and TFL journey planners for more detail.

Earls Court Piccadilly Line westbound to Earls Court
ExCeL Northern Line southbound to Bank, DLR
Greenwich Park Northern Line southbound to Bank, DLR
Hampton Court Palace Victoria Line to Vauxhall, train
Horse Guards Parade Piccadilly Line westbound to Piccadilly Circus then Bakerloo Line to Charing Cross. Alternatively 91 bus from bus stop A to Trafalgar Square
Hyde Park Piccadilly Line westbound to Hyde Park Corner
Lords Cricket Ground Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan or Circle Line westbound to Baker Street then 13, 82 or 113 bus
North Greenwich Arena Northern Line southbound to London Bridge, Jubilee Line eastbound to North Greenwich
The Mall Piccadilly Line westbound to Piccadilly Circus then Bakerloo Line to Charing Cross. Alternatively 91 bus from bus stop A to Trafalgar Square
The Royal Artillery Barracks Northern Line southbound to London Bridge, train to Woolwich Arsenal
Wembley Arena Metropolitan Line westbound to Wembley Park
Wembley Stadium Metropolitan Line westbound to Wembley Park
Wimbledon Piccadilly Line westbound to Earls Court, District Line southbound to Southfields then 493 bus

Not going to the Olympics

What changes or problems am I likely to find at the stations?

The GAOTG website includes projections of when and how much busier than usual each station is expected to be "if people don't change their travel patterns".

Click on the images to got to GAOTG pages for more detail; the full-sized projection charts are towards the bottom of these pages.

St Pancras projectionSt Pancras International

St Pancras is likely to get more crowded than usual especially from 3rd August when the athletics events start.

This is likely to be caused by large numbers of people queuing for the Javelin trains, with less impact on Eurostar, East Midland and First Capital Connect (Thameslink) services.

Southeastern Trains' normal high speed service in and out of St Pancras has been significantly altered and many trains will not run to give more capacity to the Javelin Olympic trains. See their FAQ and timetable pages.

Kings Cross projectionKing's Cross (overground)

King's Cross overground station is not expected to be much busier than usual. Although the chart looks a bit random, overall this seems realistic given that the capacity of the station has been greatly increased by the new Departures concourse, and it is not used to reach any Olympic venues.

Kings Cross St Pancras projectionKing's Cross St Pancras (underground)

The tube station looks likely to be the place where people not heading to the Olympics are most likely to get caught up in congestion. According to the GAOTG, delays of over 30 minutes boarding tube trains may be experienced between 8.30 and 10am on most mornings during the games (click the image to see more detail), with shorter but still significant delays possible at other times.

One should remember that these are projections and "show what may happen if people don't change their travel patterns" which means that the problems may not happen at all. It's obviously a bit of a guessing game, so we will try to post updates to this page and on Twitter as the situation becomes clearer.

If the station entrances have to close to stop overcrowding on the platforms (which they will if there are long waiting times to board trains) then large queues and crowds will build up outside. This used to happen regularly before the tube station was extended, but there are now a dozen different entrances when there used to be only four, so it is worth looking around for the shortest queue.

Queues may be shortest at the Pentonville Road entrance (open weekdays 7am to 8pm only) which is some distance from the main stations.

How can I get to where I want to if the underground station is closed due to overcrowding?

If it looks like being too time-consuming or stressful to queue to get into the tube station, here are some options for getting away by bus or on foot.

By bus

King's Cross is served by 14 bus routes which go to all parts of London. Our bus page summarises which bus stops they go from and has links to TFL's live bus departure pages.

On foot

Here are some distances and estimated walking times to nearby tube stations along with links to directions on Google Maps:

Angel Northern line 17 min 0.8 miles Google map
Russell Square Piccadilly line 15 min 0.7 miles Google map
Euston Square Metropolitan/Circle/ Hammersmith & City lines 15 min 0.6 miles Google map
Euston Northern/Victoria lines, Overground 11 min 0.5 miles Google map
Warren Street Northern/Victoria line 17 min 0.8 miles Google map
Mornington Crescent Northern line 19 min 0.9 miles Google map

Bloomsbury, Camden, Islington and the West End are areas that are all within a half hour walk of King's Cross.

On the roads

What happens on Olympic Route Network Roads and Games Lanes and where are they?

Euston and King's Cross are very generous when it comes to sharing each other's traffic jams and the "core route" of the Olympic Route Network, which includes Games Lanes comes along the Euston Road from the west as far as Euston Station, where it heads south down Upper Woburn Place. It passes Russell Square which is the media's headquarters and will itself be a busy transport hub for the Games.

The core ORN is described as "Heavily used every day of the Games with most extensive traffic management measures" (unlike Venue-specific routes which may only operate on certain days).

Olympic Route Network

Here is an extract from the Get Ahead of the Games description of what the ORN involves:

The vast majority of roads where the ORN and PRN routes are in operation will be open to all road users. However, to keep the routes clear for the Games Family and to keep traffic moving, there will be temporary changes to the roads along the route. These temporary changes may include:

  • Games Lanes
  • Suspended turns
  • Changes to traffic lights and signal timings
  • Suspension of parking or loading bays
  • Suspension of some pedestrian crossings
  • Some bus lanes suspended
  • Some bus and coach stops adjusted

There are a lot of changes that are specific to particular roads/junctions on the GAOTG interactive map. You have to zoom in before you can see details of all the restrictions on different dates.

Games Lanes, which will be reserved for accredited Games vehicles and on-call emergency services only, will be used on around one-third of the ORN/PRN in London, where stretches of the road have more than one lane in each direction. Most Lanes will operate between 6am and midnight everyday but this will vary in some cases (check the times of operation on the roadside signs)

You can see from the map above that the Euston Road Games Lanes will use the outside lanes. There are turning restrictions at the Upper Woburn Place junction, so presumably other eastbound traffic will no longer able to turn right off Euston Road, which will send it all on to King's Cross.

It seems very likely that these measures will have a significant impact on traffic in the King's Cross area.

When does the Olympic Route Network get diverted to King's Cross?

On 7 days during the Olympics, the ORN is diverted through King's Cross itself because road race events are taking place on core ORN routes.

The interactive map and road race events pages shows these days as being:

Saturday 28 July Men's Cycling Road Race
Sunday 29 July Women's Cycling Road Race
Saturday 4 August Women's Triathlon / Men's 20km Race Walk
Sunday 5 August Women's Marathon
Tuesday 7 August Men's Triathlon
Saturday 11 August Men's 50km Race Walk / Women's 20km Race Walk
Sunday 12 August Men's Marathon

The revised route includes Euston Road, Pentonville Road and the Gray's Inn Road/Penton Rise/Swinton Street one-way system.

Olympic Route Network

Games Lanes will also be in effect, but unlike Euston Road they will use the inside lanes, are not continuous, and will share the spaces with buses (so good luck to that actually making any difference).

None of these events are happening near King's Cross, so it may seem odd that something like a cycle race that mostly takes place in Surrey will affect the roads here. The reason is this:

"Parts of the race route will take place on Olympic Route Network roads. Therefore, section 1 [which covers King's Cross] of the Road event ORN will be used as the alternative route for Games Family when the road event is taking place."

So because a cycle race finishes in The Mall, the whole ORN has to be diverted for the day.

Therefore ORN restrictions will apply (see what this means above) and some bus stops and pedestrian crossings will be suspended. This PDF gives an overview of the Euston to Old Street alternative ORN route which covers King's Cross and you can see more detailed restrictions by selecting one of the dates above and zooming in on the interactive map.

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