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Bonkers Blog October 2015

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4 October - Crossrail. Not a hive of activity

I think most people affected by the Crossrail work in Abbey Wood accept that inconvenience is unavoidable while the work is going on and the enormous benefits bestowed by the new railway line will make it all worthwhile.

Yesterday while out and about in the area I spoke to two people who were unaware that the train service was subject to another weekend closure, the sixth since the end of August with three more to come up to 1st November. One young man who had approached on foot from Felixstowe Road and who I assumed was a local, had no idea of what was going on. He was amazed when I told him about the tunnel not much more than a mile away and confessed to never having looked out of the train window on his way to London. Or read any of the station notices presumably.

Over the past five weeks about 750 metres of new track has been laid in three weekend sessions to the east of Abbey Wood station with another one to come. A new bridge has been installed at Bostall Manorway and the old one removed, but this weekend there is very little work in evidence.
Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail Crossrail
A trip along the whole length of the line from beyond the Green Chain bridge (which Crossrail calls the Thamesmead bridge) to the tunnel revealed just a handful of men scratching around in the track ballast east of that footbridge. Elsewhere there was not a soul to be seen.

It must be very difficult to book a line closure with the train operator many months in advance of the required date and coordinate the work and the contractors such that they can always make good use of it.

Crossrail Crossrail CrossrailRather less spectacular work than bridge installation has continued on a wide front during the week. Utility cable diversion continues in both Wilton and Felixstowe Roads (Photo 6) and trackside fencing and cabling continues almost everywhere, along with some tree trimming.

To the east of the station the steel gantries that will support the 25kV overhead power cables now boast their horizontal supports (Photos 3 and 4) and track is delivered daily into the tunnel.

ExpectationUnfortunately the past six weeks have not improved the situation for the travelling public or residents in general. Access to the station has become more of an obstacle course and the removal of the Bostall Manorway footbridge with no immediate prospect of the replacement being brought into use is not helpful.

The diversion was not planned (see Crossrail document) but it causes a mile long detour and its semi-permanency was emphasised this week by the wooden barriers shown in Photo 7.

Crossrail management has been keen to avoid attributing blame for this sorry state of affairs but I see no way that Greenwich council cannot be the ultimate obstacle.

If I have correctly interpreted what was said at the Liaison Panel meeting last Tuesday, no formal planning permission was required for the bridge as the 2008 Act authorised all the necessary infrastructure. However it was said at Tuesday’s meeting that Greenwich council must authorise use of the footbridge and the council representative made no secret of the fact that permission had not been given.

Network Rail on behalf of Crossrail may well be playing a diplomatic game but my guess is that they would happily open their new bridge if only Greenwich council would give them the nod.


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