I gambled on last nights Crossrail Liaison Panel meeting being more
interesting than Bexley Councils People Scrutiny meeting and probably I was
right. It has quite often been the case with the Crossrail meetings that if you took along an
old Agenda and an old set of Minutes you might not notice much of a difference.
Last night was a little more useful than that implies.
There were of course the usual moans but not totally without cause. The replacement buses are frequently inaccessible to wheel chair users and from personal experience parents with buggies and those unable to negotiate the steep stairs found on some luxury coaches are similarly barred from access. On November 19th they were turfed off to wait another 20 minutes in the pouring rain. Nice coach for a Continental tour but not for a Plumstead to Slade Green shuttle.
Someone at Network Rail has had the bright idea of reversing all the platform loudspeakers so that they now point to the east - where there are no nearby houses - rather than Abbey Terrace. Simple, cheap and hopefully effective. In the immediate future the light levels, and the possible nuisance factor, is to be assessed.
Network Rail has been cleaning the Church Manorway and Bostall Manorway weekly to good effect according to the latest reports although the latter was filthy when I crossed it last Saturday.
The long awaited solution to the garden flooding affecting houses In Abbey Grove to the west of the station is now within sight. It will entail soak-aways and installing a new drain which will connect to the station car park drainage system. Installation will commence during the first quarter of 2017. Emergency pumps are dealing with the problem until then.
Tiffany Lynch from Bexley Council confirmed what I had heard a lady from Greenwich Council say a month or so ago, that is that the Wilton Road public realm work scheduled for the first week of the New Year should cure the persistent flooding at the station entrance. Bexley Council has ignored it for years and sometimes only the Network Rail gully sucker has prevented thousands of wet shoes.
The complaint that Network Rails removal of the trees and fences between their track and the flats in Coptefield Drive and their apparent intention not to replace them has now reached Crossrails Complaints Commissioner.
I live in the same road but not adjacent to the railway and shielded from it by a terrace of flats and houses. The only real difference I have noticed is that following the loss of the trees all the birds disappeared. Over the years I have seen nearly 40 varieties of birds in my front garden and for a year there have been almost none. Not even a plague of parakeets. Some sparrows and tits returned during the recent cold snap.
The affected householders are being asked to pay for a replacement fence themselves and as they are leasehold with a managing agent who will merely pass on the cost, residents appear to have a legitimate grievance. The agents fencing contractor was on site today measuring up. The cost will be horrendous.
The Bostall Manorway footbridge ramps are due to open during the first quarter of 2017.
Key dates for the next few months are
16 December 2016 - Zinc cladding goes on to the station roof.
17 February 2017 - Planned completion of Crossrail platform.
17 February 2017 - Installation of the North Kent line to Crossrail points. (This is a Friday but that is what Network Rail said.)
17 February 2017 - Crossrail track installed within confines of station.
17 April 2017 - Final piece of Abbey Wood section Crossrail track laid.
Network Rail will then hand over the track to Crossrail for the electrical fit out, signalling etc.
Crossrail related line closures will be 4th, 5th, 12th, 18th, and 26th February 2017. In March the dates are 3rd, 11th, 12th and 27th followed by 8th, 9th and 29th April. There may be additional closures due to engineering work elsewhere. Always check the Network Rail website before travelling at the weekend.
There will be no trains - Bexleyheath line too - next weekend but it is nothing to do with Crossrail.
Finally drivers heading in or out of Thamesmead will be pleased to hear that Tiffany Lynch (Bexley Council) has also noticed that the Harrow Manorway crossing lights have been cycling through red, amber and green, almost constantly over the past two weeks without encouragement from a pedestrians thumb. She has promised to report it to Transport for London.
In other train related news, you will have read that Transport Minister Chris Grayling has been playing political games with The Mayor and blocked his proposal for TfL to take over the Southeasterns Metro lines.
I am not Southeasterns biggest critic because I dont have to use their service during the rush hour and outside it I appear to lead a charmed life and only very rarely inconvenienced. However I do recognise that it causes rail travel in this part of London to be more expensive than elsewhere, and of course Freedom Pass users have to queue at the barriers until 9:30 which residents of other boroughs do not have to do. Only Bexley has no rail alternative to Southeastern.
It is therefore very disappointing that two of our MPs are in favour of Graylings endorsement of making travellers on all the local railway lines pay more than elsewhere.
Something to be remembered come the next election.
For the record, the Southeastern representative at last nights meeting confirmed that Freedom Pass users will be accepted at the Abbey Wood barriers at all times but will be expected to use only the Crossrail services until 9:30.