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Bonkers Blog August 2016

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2 August - Public Transport running two weeks late

Two weeks ago there was a meeting of Bexley’s Transport Users’ Sub-Committee, definitely the longest delay ever for a meeting report on BiB.

It’s chaired by Councillor Val Clark in a relaxed style, she admits to knowing little about railways. “A lot of it goes over my head because I don’t understand the minutiae of all this train lark.”
The police reported that they had issued a couple of speeding tickets but “the big issue” for the borough is people riding motorcycles without helmets. “They are very much aware that by not wearing a helmet there is nothing we can do. There is a group of people who will not wear a helmet specifically so that we can’t pursue them.”

Councillor Brian Beckwith (Conservative, Blackfen & Lamorbey) asked how many hand held speed cameras there were to cover the whole borough. The answer was two.

Councillor John Davey (Conservative, Crayford) said the helmetless riders were wearing balaclavas and they were doing “wheelies on the pavement” and “not chasing them was absolutely ludicrous. It sends out completely the wrong message”. The police officer agreed but then dropped back into politically correct mode. Sometimes air support is called in to track the bikers “but it is not always practical. I don’t know what the answer is and I don’t see it changing”.

The constant problem of badly behaved school children on buses and waiting for buses particularly around the Bexleyheath Clock Tower came up again. There is usually a police presence by the Tower but nothing in Mayplace Road West for eastbound buses. Occasionally TfL’s revenue protection officers take on a crowd control role but it cannot be a regular occurrence. For its part, the Youth Council had reported cases of badly behaved bus drivers, one of them allegedly threw someone’s Oyster Card out of his window.

A man from Network Rail reported on long term future plans through to 2044. There is little scope for more trains through this borough but trains may become longer. Crowding will be a problem except perhaps on the North Kent line where Crossrail will provide relief. There will be “horrible horrible congestion” from Hither Green into London. It is difficult to justify relief because the Department for Transport will not accept that standing for less than 20 minutes is a problem. Trains are so crowded that it can be difficult to get the doors closed and the answer to that is to remove more seats. Detailed planning is hampered by the unknowns, for example the 2018 ThamesLink timetable is not yet available.

The London Bridge changes will happen on time after the August Bank Holiday but there will be no trains at all on the following Tuesday to Thursday to and from Cannon Street. This means no trains whatsoever from Deptford through to Westcombe Park. Thereafter Cannon Street trains will not stop at London Bridge. The only good news is that the new London Bridge concourse is “amazing. You will be blown away when you see it. It is truly incredible. Brilliant”.

Access to the Angerstein Wharf freight line at Charlton is expected to be “tweaked” to allow access from both directions thereby avoiding huge diesel fuel wasting loops around Kent and South London.

CrossrailCouncillor Davey said the Council was keen to see Crossrail extended to Ebbsfleet. Network Rail said “we have been working with our colleagues at TfL to see how that would work”. Meanwhile Network Rail is putting huge quantities of concrete into Abbey Wood station where the track would have to go and building a street level entrance which does not allow track extension. See enlarged Photo.

Councillor Stefano Borella (Labour, North End) asked about Charing Cross station and whether there was a plan to convert the third rail system to overhead electrification. The option to move Charing Cross out over the river had been looked at but getting rid of the third rail would be “a bit of an expensive folly at the moment. However all new structures would provide for the possibility”. Station canopies were a problem and even hanging baskets have to be hung by qualified personnel. “There are a myriad of extra issues.”

Returning to roads, “there has been a significant increase of serious casualties and collisions. It is alarming when you look at the percentages.” However there were only six more casualties than in the previous year. (2014 compared to 2015.) No pattern was discernible.

The plan for various ‘quiet way’ cycle routes is progressing.


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