Just as it did last time, the Crossrail Liaison Panel meeting clashed with a Bexley council meeting, albeit a minor one. There was an update session on the Lesnes Abbey Enhancement Project, so once again I sent a substitute. He reported back that he learned nothing from a very long meeting.
When asked if it was true that the project was months behind schedule because of artefacts discovered just under the soil surface the suggestion was rejected. When asked for the real reason none was forthcoming and in the words of my substitute reporter, Bexley was “clearly trying to hide something”.
Meanwhile, down at the Abbey Wood Community Centre, representatives from Crossrail, Network Rail and Southeastern trains did their best to answer questions under the chairmanship of Greenwich councillor Steve Offord.
At the last meeting it took an hour and a half to go through the points arising from the previous meeting and this time Steve managed to get it down to 45 minutes. It was scheduled for 15.
I must be very fortunate because all the dumper trucks, JCBs and lorries etc. seen by residents are caked in mud, lights and direction indicators obscured, reversing out of small openings without the benefit of a banksman and leaving a trail of debris along the local roads while narrowly avoiding taking out a few pedestrians in the process. I, on the other hand, take a look most days and have seen almost none of that. Any mud left on the road has been swept up within minutes and banksmen are plentiful. Obviously they only behave themselves when an old bloke with a big camera is nearby.
Councillor Offord ploughed on as fast as he could but the picking apart of the minutes was not enormously productive. Of all the promises made at the last meeting only one had been actioned, the installation of an extra lift bell push at Abbey Wood station - and that was done only yesterday.
Some residents claim that the lift attendants are rarely in attendance whilst I see two or three whenever I pass by - most usually some time in the afternoon.
The central stair rail on the station footbridge is not going to happen due to legal red tape. No news was forthcoming about the fault monitoring and contract with Stannah Lifts. Shop fronts are not being washed down as was discussed three months ago. TfL and Southeastern are still charging Oyster card users who use the station as a shortcut and a compromise is as far away as ever. The Bexley council officers present did not know if the Harrow Manorway bus stop which has been out of use all year had opened again - it did last week.
There had been no progress on alleviating parking problems as Bexley and Greenwich council officers have yet to meet and discuss the issues. One person is off sick apparently and everything must come to a halt. The inability of Abbey Terrace residents to park in their own road continues. No extra seating or shelter has been provided on the station platforms.
It is fortunate that no one was foolish enough to make any more unachievable promises. I smiled broadly when I heard plans for even more notices of impending works to be distributed. I receive them already but the timetabling of major events is no more reliable than any other railway timetable.
I put this to the new Network Rail manager, Peter Hume, after the meeting. He was fully aware that contractors frequently get ahead of schedule. Typically work scheduled during a two day line closure is completed within 24 hours and nothing much is done on the Sunday. As already reported, almost nothing was achieved last Sunday and Peter is very aware of it and has improvements in hand. Line closures must be booked months in advance and everything synchronised perfectly for maximum efficiency. Not easy.
The formal illustrated presentation produced remarkably few questions. I learned that…
• Noisy piling has finished for the immediate future.
• The disabled access to Church Manorway footbridge remains closed because of privacy issues with the houses that lie to the north.
• The Bostall Manorway bridge will be replaced in August.
• Felixstowe Road will be restored to two way use by the end of July. (Photo 1 below)
• More North Kent track realignment will commence in September and be completed by February next year.
• The Gayton Road utility diversion works will be completed by the end of September. (Photo 2)
• The overhead electrics which were at one time expected to end just short of the Lesnes Abbey footbridge (Photo 4) will now extend only 200 metres east of Abbey Wood station.
• The special train (for concreting the tunnel track bed) currently stationed in Plumstead sidings was delivered by road. There is still no track to any part of the Crossrail track from the North Kent line.
Four Bexley councillors attended the meeting, all Labour, and at least three from Greenwich. None of Bexley’s Conservative members bothered to come as far north as Abbey Wood.
More Crossrail related blogs.