Today was the end of an era in Abbey Wood, from tomorrow
access to the railway station platforms is changed; most people will find entry
easier and before long, when all the lifts are operational, everyone will benefit from the improvements.
It’s possible I’ll find myself taking fewer photos as the pace of work slows. The first was taken in August 2013 when Network Rail took over the Felixstowe Road car park and before long I was taking more every day. I think I missed only one major event, the removal of the rusty old station footbridge and more than 6,500 photos on-line show the extraordinary amount of work that has gone into tomorrow’s achievement.
At the outset I couldn’t see how train services could be maintained during construction and I was in awe of the ingenuity that went into keeping most things going most of the time, similarly the planning that must go into coordinating the various jobs.
Even in the last month or so with lots of things still to be done it was planned and timed to perfection with the final essential pieces being put in place right now as I write late on a Saturday evening. Tomorrow morning everything must be in working order - shame about the external lifts but they will be only a day or two behind.
There has of course been inconvenience and not a few complaints but given the cramped site the scope for alternatives were few or non-existent.
Not once while poking my lens over fences and through holes has any construction worker taken exception and at senior level there has been nothing but help and a willingness to answer innumerable questions. Peter, Raj, Andy, Guy and Deborah deserve special mention along with James from Balfour Beatty. They didn’t quite make a civil or railway engineer out of me but they did their best.
The same goes for the Southeastern staff who never lost patience with me prowling around daily and when permission was forthcoming from Network Rail, escorting me to various places, complete with orange suit, on days when the station was closed. Tomorrow Southeastern passes the management of Abbey Wood station to TfL and their contractor MTR. Most if not all the regular station staff have made the transfer.
I’m not sure I know every name but Joe, Chris, Julie, Eileen and Abdi all had infinite patience and displayed an eagerness to help. And then there’s the lift men who are now out of a job. Three in particular were always ready with a friendly greeting and sometimes longer conversations, Fred and Anthony and another whose name I never learned. Not the best of jobs hanging around in all weathers while irate passengers complained that the lifts were slow and they had to wait a minute while someone ran from underneath their heater on a bitter cold day.
Below are some ‘landmark’ pictures from 2013 to 2016. 50 more taken today are in the usual place. I hope Anthony and Fred (pictured) are not out of a job too long.