South Kensington station

South Kensington station exterior

South Kensington station is a listed heritage site and a gateway to a world-famous culture quarter and popular tourist destinations. It is one of the busiest stations on our network.

In 2015 we began talking with the local community about plans to upgrade the station, and about development opportunities in and around the station.

Benefits for our passengers and the local community include:

  • Quicker journeys, thanks to less congestion
  • Step-free access from street to District and Circle line platforms and the museum subway followed by step-free access to the Piccadilly line platforms
  • Restored heritage features
  • Improved residential properties around the station, and better quality advertising and retail space
  • Keeping the station open while we replace all five escalators to the Piccadilly line

Proposed station upgrade

High demand at the station throughout the day makes it a challenge to improve the level of service for our customers.

The proposed station upgrade includes:

  • A new dedicated platform for eastbound District and Circle line services
  • A reconfigured, updated and larger ticket hall
  • A new staircase between the ticket hall and the new platform
  • A canopy over the new platform designed to complement the historic retaining wall
  • A bridge between the District line platforms to provide an interchange from the Piccadilly line
  • Step-free access from street to train on all platforms
  • A new step-free access entrance on Thurloe Street
  • Step-free access from the ticket hall to the museum subway

These works will be delivered in phases in order to coordinate the development and delivery with other proposed works at and around the station. The initial phase will deliver the extra capacity needed before the Piccadilly line escalators can be replaced.

Listed Building Consent

The station is a Grade II listed building, so before we start any of the capacity improvement works we must submit a Listed Building Consent application to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

The Listed Building Consent application will seek permission to:

  • Demolish and rebuild the disused platform on the north side of the station to provide a dedicated eastbound platform
  • Construct a new staircase from the ticket hall to the eastbound platform and canopy. The design of these features will enhance the views and setting of the historic Victorian revetments
  • Provide a secondary means of emergency escape from the new platform to Thurloe Square bridge
  • Reconfigure the ticket hall to centralise the gateline and update the look and feel

Development around the station

We're investigating opportunities for development around the station that would respect the historic nature of the site, and provide for new homes, retail and offices.

The main elements of development will include:

  • Restoration of the historic shop fronts along Thurloe Street and station arcade
  • Restoration of the bullnose (the curved front of the station) and addition of a first floor to provide commercial space
  • Opening up and making use of currently redundant areas to allow development along Pelham Street
  • Appropriate development along Pelham Street with new homes and commercial space, restoring the active frontages to this side of the street
  • Refurbishment of 20-34 Thurloe Street, including a new station entrance with step-free access to the ticket hall

We're preparing initial feasibility studies for what could be put on the site, and hope to submit a planning application in 2017/18 for the elements above.

We have been working with local stakeholders to create a development brief and supporting architectural proposals for the site. These documents establish principles and set the tone for any future development around the station.

The development brief reflects our ambition for a respectful, high-quality development at South Kensington.


Summer 2015: Started pre-application meetings with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Autumn 2015 (ongoing): Presentations to local residents, and consultative working groups with stakeholders about capacity improvements and development around the station

Summer 2016: Public exhibition on improvements held in London Transport Museum shop in the station retail arcade

February 2017: Submit Listed Building Consent application for station capacity improvements

2017-2018: Station capacity upgrade works carried out and Piccadilly line escalators replaced. Planning application for development elements around the station submitted

2018/2019: Development around the station begins

From 2022: Step-free access from street to District and Circle lines and ticket hall to museum subway

From 2025: Step-free access to the Piccadilly line

Consultative Working Groups (CWGs)

We've been discussing our plans for improving South Kensington station with local residents' associations and societies. These meetings followed the creation of the South Kensington Station CWG.

Documents showing our initial activities in planning the station upgrade and development around the station are on the presentations and documents page. Presentations and minutes from CWG meetings are also on that page.

Latest minutes and presentations

Public events

We've also run events to make sure as many people as possible could comment on and help shape our emerging proposals.

History of the station

South Kensington station is one of the oldest on the London Underground network. It opened in 1868 as the terminus of both the Metropolitan Railway and the Metropolitan District Railway.

1871 - The station was substantially rebuilt within three years of opening. It was widened to the south to allow the two rival companies to run their own trains on their own dedicated tracks and platforms. A reversing track in the central passenger platform was included and the tracks were covered by a double-arch glazed roof.

1885 - The pedestrian subway was built from the station to the museums

1907 - The construction of the electric Piccadilly line prompted the electrification of the existing District line and a modernisation of the station. The Metropolitan District Railway's architect, George Sherrin, designed a new entrance to the District line that included a shopping arcade, a new ticket hall space and new canopies over the platforms.

The architect for the Piccadilly line, Leslie Green, provided a new ticket hall building with access to the deep-level platforms via stairs and lifts. The building deliberately did not follow the architecture of the rest of the station but instead featured the oxblood red, glazed terracotta façade.

Late 20th century - In 1966 the reversing track separating the central platforms was decommissioned and filled in to make the wide island platform in use today. The two outside platforms were closed and the tracks and passenger access were removed. In 1970, escalators were installed from the ticket hall to the Piccadilly line and the lifts were decommissioned. In 1987, the ticket hall was extended to the current configuration.

The original parade of shops and residential premises along the northern side of Pelham Street were demolished in the early 1970s when piles were sunk for a mothballed hotel development. Since then this side of Pelham Street has been left bare with a wall and hoardings.

Today - South Kensington station is often congested with a high demand from the local community and tourists and school groups accessing the nearby museums and cultural centres.

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