There was another meeting of the Crossrail Liaison Panel in Abbey Wood last
night, the tenth in the series and as always, an enjoyable hour or two.
Contrary to what you might expect the meeting does not provide much new information, except perhaps to those who have not attended previous meetings or too busy to read the many newsletters that Network Rail sends by post and email. I suspect that includes a high proportion of locals.
I learned that Mottisfont Road which has been shut for pretty much all of the past two years causing massive inconvenience to residents is scheduled to reopen in mid-April.
The disabled ramps of the Bostall and Church Manorway footbridges have lain unused for 18 months because of privacy concerns and several promised dates for their opening have come and gone. The latest date is a delightfully vague “summer” but the ultimate plan including tree screening looked rather attractive.
It is hoped that the station will open to passengers on Sunday 22nd October 2017 with an official opening the following day. By the time the station opens the public address system will have been further modified. The platform will be divided into three zones which will allow differential volume levels in order to restrict disturbance to neighbouring properties as much as possible.
Network Rail will hand the track over to Crossrail in April so that they can complete cable installation. Everything should be ready for the first test train by 1st November.
There has been no decision on whether the Elizabeth Line will be a 24 hour operation but the personal and unofficial view of one of the Crossrail people was that it probably would be.
There will again be no Southeastern service next Sunday and again on 8th, 9th and 29th April. Then 13th, 14th, 28th, 29th May, 17th and 18th June, 9th July, 3rd and 17th September and 15th October. There could be more station closures if work at London Bridge or elsewhere demands it.
Quite a lot of people in Abbey Wood are still unsure of the access arrangements for the station and some Liaison Panel members share the confusion. Even the Chairman said it was complicated but it’s not really very difficult.
The main entrance will be from the Harrow Manorway flyover and to get up to that level there will be two lifts and stairs from both Gayton Road (the south) and Felixstowe Road (the north).
Once in the high level booking hall the only access to a platform will be a single lift and staircase, duplicated for both North Kent and Elizabeth (Crossrail) lines. The Crossrail platform will have an additional entrance at low level from Felixstowe Road, you will be able to walk behind the buffers but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it open during peak hours only.
The existing station footbridge will only run between the two platforms, The segment that currently allows access from the temporary booking hall will be taken away. That central footbridge will be augmented with two escalators, one to each platform. There will be no other escalators anywhere and those two will be used only in the ‘peak flow’ direction.
There will be an additional small footbridge at the western end of the platforms, the support columns are already in place. The only exit and entry point to the station will be through the main station building. No convenient shortcuts; passenger convenience is secondary to that of the railway operating companies.
One can imagine that if the Elizabeth Line is as popular as seems likely, the stairs (Photo 1) will be immediately congested and the lift shaft (Photo 2) does not look excessively large.
Tiffany Lynch from Bexley Council, in response to a question, said that TfL was still not ready to launch its bus consultation. “Another two or three weeks” she said. Goodness knows where extra buses can go, around the Knee Hill roundabout and back again presumably.
The flyover will became a Red Route with camera surveillance, I fear the present rush hour gridlock will not be improved.
Ms. Lynch’s principal interest was the staircase from Gayton Road up to the flyover walkway. There are proposals that it should be removed, something that was not part of the original plan. I was intrigued by the fact that the most vocal objector was a man who uses a wheelchair but maybe I missed his point. For me, a regular user of the stairs, the main issue must be keeping the traffic flowing which means minimising use of the pedestrian crossing. Surely it will be quicker to walk under the flyover and climb the new station stairs than wait for the flyover lights to change and hope the boy racers obey them?
The losers would be those intending to catch a southbound 180 bus and pedestrians who might wish to get to the BP petrol station or somewhere close to it. There can’t be too many of them.
A straw poll was in favour of demolishing the staircase, at least I think it was because I forgot to look for any hands that may have been raised on my left.
Much as I admire the way that Network Rail has fulfilled its contract to build a new railway I am gradually coming to the conclusion that the station will prove to be inadequate in too many respects. The four external lifts will be part of the public realm and in use 24 hours a day. Whoever dreamed up that idea had no idea about Abbey Wood’s vandal problem.
Lots of CCTV and remote lift locking might be a good start.