The above News Shopper headline has caused a minor Twitter storm but I’d put money on it erring on the side of scaremongering. Scaremongering to wake up the witless.
The fact is that every time I go on a photo reconnaissance during ‘line possessions’ I find myself explaining that the station is closed. Occasionally I have to explain that a new station is being built and tracks have to be moved.
It seems to me that people go around with their eyes closed. I’ve even had to stop a couple planning their journey to Paddington with the aid of the Crossrail track map unaware that the next train will be in three years time and not three minutes.
Last week I was told by a helpful bystander that the new Crossrail track was installed to which the correct response was “why has it got a third rail then?”. Instead a full explanation was called for.
My understanding of Crossrail during 2016 is as follows…
There will be intensive weekend line closures until the end of February. During this time the new half width platform will be completed along with the adjacent new track which will be connected to the existing London bound line. The latter will be nudged southwards behind Fendyke Road, Coptefield Drive and Halifield Drive to provide a smooth transition.
If you stand on the Lesnes Abbey footbridge and eye up the fence posts you can see how they gradually move southwards the nearer to the station they get.
Once London bound trains are stopping at the new platform the existing London bound track will be redundant and both it and the old platform can be ripped out and replaced with little impact on either the east or west bound North Kent lines.
Given Crossrail’s enthusiasm for fencing I would expect them to protect their workers from Dartford bound trains but in essence they will be clear to build the other half of the island platform unhindered and eventually lay new track alongside it.
At that stage the switchover will no doubt be more complex than a casual observer might expect so another period of travel disruptions should be expected. Some estimates have suggested there may be a month of no trains around next August.
However once the North Kent Down line is in its new place the need for further ‘line possessions' should be minimal. The Crossrail developments will not impinge on existing services except perhaps when something has to be built over the line. The second station footbridge maybe.
My guess is that Crossrail is trying to shake the travelling public out of its complacency - or maybe ignorance - and the News Shopper headline, doubtless based on a Network Rail Press Release, will prove to be unduly pessimistic.
Meanwhile, down in Abbey Terrace their nightly torture may be reduced.
Thames Water fixed the leak this morning and the pump that ran for four days and three nights fell silent. No let up from the deliveries though.
Note: It’s not inaccurate reporting in the News Shopper, it's just that the PR does not line up with what has been said to Liaison Panel members. I suspect that the powers that be are becoming tired of the complaints of no trains and are playing down expectations.