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The fourth Liaison Panel meeting was held in Abbey Wood’s Community Centre
yesterday evening and the numbers attending seem to be growing, especially the number of railway officials present, most of whom made
either very little or no contribution.
Attending for the first time was the chairman of Bexley council’s Transport Users’ Committee, councillor Val Clark, described to me following yesterday’s report, as “a vile woman”. She must like making enemies.
But down to business; was the meeting worth attending? Was there anything new announced that could not be deduced by looking at the work in progress?
Maybe not a lot if you are a keen Bonkers’ reader but Network Rail’s Programme Manager Peter Hume was definitely informative even if he is forced to spend too much time answering questions from regular attendees who do not listen and go around with their eyes shut.
Some still hold out the hope that the ground level station access from Wilton Road will be restored apparently oblivious to the fact that an island platform dictates that the London bound North Kent line will get in the way.
However Mr. Hume probably surprised everyone when he said there would be low level access to Crossrail from Felixstowe Road going behind the buffers of the northerly Crossrail track which terminates in the station. The second track will extend towards Belvedere for train access and maintenance reasons.
The utility diversion work in Felixstowe Road is running behind schedule and the pedestrian footpath has still to be relocated but it should all be restored to something like normality by 2nd November. The works in Gayton Road are already very nearly completed.
As should be well known, the main access point to the station will be at high level from Harrow Manorway but both Wilton and Felixstowe Roads will have access via two lifts each and stairs. Descent to the platforms will be by a single lift and stairs, space considerations precluding anything more extensive. It was again confirmed that there would be no access at the western end of either platform but there would be a third platform interchange (footbridge) there.
The usual suspects were preoccupied with the arrangements that might be made if a lift should go out of order when they were not complaining about the traffic lights outside Sainsburys.
One of the slides put on screen by Mr. Hume showed the programme of works in the immediate future which included line closures on the weekends of 3rd, 10th, 24th and 31st October which is more than announced in August. (See footnote.)
The 24th/25th October will see the last of four track replacement operations to the east of the station. Demolition of the now disused power hut at the end of Florence Road will allow all the new track to be nudged southwards to align with the new platform under construction.
That platform will be brought into use next February but at only half its ultimate width. It should nevertheless provide rather more protection from the elements than is currently the case.
The loss of the footbridge at Bostall Manorway came in for criticism and it was again left to the Reverend Yeadon to make the valid points. There are a lot of school children who need to cross the line twice daily and a mile long detour twice a day is “not proportional”, and the reverend is absolutely right. Greenwich council had once again made the wrong decision favouring the few against the many.
Mr. Hume said he was urgently investigating whether the footbridge could be opened without disabled access while a longer term solution was considered. He rightly said that high screens merely encourage anti-social behaviour.
The owner of the Wilton Road taxi cab office has been particularly hard hit by the weekend line closures and asked how many more were planned. No definitive answer was given but Easter 2016, the following Bank Holiday and maybe another consecutive series similar to the present one in August were all probable. After that, with the whole of the North Kent line safely realigned, further works should not disrupt existing train services.
Note: A letter from Network Rail received this morning states that the additional line closures will be on 24th and 25th October and Sunday 1st November.