The Royal Borough has been lobbying for a Crossrail station at the former Kensal Gasworks for almost ten years. Initially this was proposed as a “turnback” station for trains that would otherwise be returning to central London after terminating at Paddington.
When plans were announced for an interchange between HS2 and Crossrail at Old Oak Common, a turn-back station at Kensal was no longer an option because nearly all trains would need to run as far as Old Oak Common.
The Council had produced evidence demonstrating the regeneration benefits that a station at the former Kensal Gasworks would provide, both in the immediate vicinity of the station and the surrounding area: North Kensington is poorly connected to central London by public transport and it contains wards that are amongst the ten percent most deprived in the UK. See the Map of the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2010.
However, railway investment decisions are typically based on the value of passenger journey time not wider benefits. Rail planners calculated that if all Crossrail trains called at Kensal, the extra journey times for “through” passengers would outweigh the benefits to passengers using the station. On this basis, the Transport Minister decided the proposal could not go ahead.
Since then the Royal Borough has successfully petitioned against parts of the HS2 Bill that could have prevented a station at Kensal and it has also developed a new station proposal.
This proposal would provide additional railway tracks so that most Crossrail trains could by-pass Kensal Portobello station but at least four trains an hour would call there. This gives a positive journey time saving and the additional track capacity would also benefit the operation of railway services in this congested part of the network.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, can see the merits of this proposal and has announced more detailed design work will be undertaken to ensure that the station and additional track can be built. Read the press release 'New Crossrail station in North Kensington back on the agenda'.
Evidence for Kensal Portobello station
A Crossrail Regeneration Benefits - Kensal Addendum 2012 followed on from a GLA report looking at the regeneration benefits of the Crossrail line. The report suggested that there was a stronger case for a station on the Kensal site than at any other confirmed station site outside of east London. It concluded that, on this basis, had the Kensal site been looked at from the outset, it would certainly have been included in the original Crossrail plans.
A subsequent report, also in 2012, examined the economic impact of the proposed station. It is estimated that the delivery of an additional Crossrail Station at Kensal could be worth £690 million to the local economy and could create 2,000 jobs.
The North Pole Depot and Kensal Gasworks Valuation Study 2014 identified the Gross Development Value, Land Sales Value and Gross Value Added of development in the Kensal Gasworks area. The study looked particularly at the North Pole Depot because this site, which had previously been identified for development, was being proposed as a relocation site for the Heathrow Express (HEX) Depot in the HS2 Bill. The report indicated that relocating the HEX depot to North Pole East would prevent 3,300 homes, 1,900 jobs and an estimated £1,088m Gross Value Added. The Government has since decided that the depot should be located elsewhere, paving the way for North Pole East to be used for much-needed housing.
In 2015 a Development Uplift and Infrastructure Study identified that the market would provide up to 5,000 homes on the site with a Crossrail a station, and only 1,500 without a station. It calculated the economic impact of the proposed station at £0.7-£1.2bn and identified that the scale of development would be sufficient to fund the infrastructure including a new bridge, station and additional track.