South Kensington station exterior

South Kensington station's current ticket hall and the stair to the District and Circle line platforms are often over crowded. We want to make journeys through the station quicker and easier for our customers.

We were granted Listed Building Consent for capacity upgrades to this Grade II listed building by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in January 2018.

Station upgrade plans

Our station upgrade is organised in phases. Phase one will add the extra capacity needed before the Piccadilly line escalators can be replaced.

Phase one

  • A new dedicated platform for eastbound District and Circle line services
  • A canopy over the new platform designed to complement the historic retaining wall
  • A new staircase between the ticket hall and the new platform
  • A larger, more spacious ticket hall with more gates
  • Preparations for step-free access to the District and Circle line platforms in the future
  • New ticketing facilities
  • Restored skylight
  • Environmentally friendly drainage, with new plantings
  • A new emergency escape stair from the eastbound platform to the bridge where Thurloe Street crosses the Tube tracks (a single, emergency-only door opening onto Thurloe Street)
  • The ability to change the emergency escape stair into a bridge for passengers changing between lines if needed in the future

Future phases of work

Included are:

  • Full replacement of all escalators in the station
  • Commercial improvements and other benefits around the station
  • A new step-free access entrance at 20-34 Thurloe Street
  • Step-free access from:
    - street to train on all District and Circle line platforms
    - ticket hall to the museum subway
    - ticket hall to the Piccadilly line platforms

Why we're doing the work

South Kensington station is a listed heritage site and a gateway to one of the capital's best-known cultural quarters and popular tourist destinations. It is one of the busiest stations on our network - about 34 million pass through each year.

Since 2015 we've been talking with the local community - residents as well as community groups, cultural institutions and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea - about plans to upgrade the station, and about development opportunities in and around the station. Our discussions have helped to shape and develop our proposals.

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

Development around the station

We're searching for a long-term joint venture development partner to work with us to restore and develop our land around the station. By refurbishing existing buildings and creating new opportunities along Pelham Street, we can enhance the area while also respecting the station's unique heritage setting.

The main elements of development will include:

  • Restoration of the historic shop fronts along Thurloe Street and the 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, creating a new station entrance with step-free access to the District and Circle lines

We  will announce our preferred partner in March 2018.

Read more about our search for a development partner.

Development brief

Our work with local stakeholders has helped us 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.

Subject to planning, the development, including step-free access to the District and Circle lines and the pedestrian subway, could be complete by 2022.

Timeline

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

January 2018: granted Listed Building Consent application for station capacity improvements

March 2018: select a preferred partner to help us bring forward development around the station

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

2020: development around the station begins

From 2022: construction for the development around the station completed, including 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're running a series of events to make sure as many people as possible can comment on and help shape our emerging proposals.

We held a drop-in session on 19 September 2017 to get feedback on our proposals. You can download a copy of the display boards if you were unable to make the event.

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.