48 hours after featuring
the plight of residents of Coptefield Drive and Tunstock Way who have sacrificed their fences and trees to Network Rail, the
company sent me an explanation. Overall I was not hugely impressed.
The letter confirms my assumption that removing conifers does nothing to reduce leaf fall and explains that it became essential because of “the expanded railway corridor” which would bring the drainage system “dangerously close to the trees requiring the removal of some roots”. I accept that is a wholly reasonable explanation.
What isn’t either reasonable or acceptable is that the trees and wooden fences were taken down very nearly a year ago and the residents have been left to suffer the consequences. The old fences were barely adequate but were a good deal better than the wire grid which has been its replacement for the past year. Photo 1 was taken while leaning against the back wall of one of the houses.
Network Rail will come up with all sorts of excuses based on their interpretation of the Crossrail Act. To the west of the new station residents (Photo 2) are entitled to a high acoustic screen at the back of their gardens some of which I estimate to be 80 plus feet long. On the Bexley side they not only get no screen but what little protection they had has been taken away.
The email from Network Rail refers again to the fences being flattened by high winds and denies that their team removed them. There are many residents prepared to swear that they did.
There is no explanation of how it is that the fence still stands where there were no trees or acknowledgement that the gales came after their disappearance and cannot be the cause.
The email also refers to consultations. What actually happened, I have seen some of the correspondence, is that Network Rail notified the land owner, it’s leasehold, and they correctly decided that they were powerless. All they could do was notify their lessees. The Crossrail Act gives Network Rail dictatorial powers and they use them.
Not only are residents now subject to extra noise and vibration they have lost all their privacy too. With the trees no longer there, train passengers have a clear view into houses. The picture below was taken through the rain spattered window of a Belvedere to Abbey Wood train last Friday. The ramps to Bostall Manorway and Church Manorway footbridges have remained closed for a year or more (Photo 4) because one family complained that it allowed views into their bedrooms.
Because east of Abbey Wood is not strictly speaking Crossrail residents there get no consideration. But I suppose that things are just a little better than at Chantry Close (Photos 3) where railway workers can very nearly press their noses against residents’ windows.
Coptefield Drive. The view from the train.
If you think that BiB is showing signs of no longer being a big fan of the Crossrail construction
project you could be right. The past week has changed everything.
It has become much more difficult to take pictures of the Crossrail site. The station building which I increasingly think may be ugly and totally out of keeping with its southern approaches can only be photographed while dicing with death on the flyover. High level pictures of the construction of the Crossrail platform is now restricted by the footbridge rearrangements. All of which was both predictable and inevitable. No problem with that.
But now access has been further restricted. It used to be the case that if one asked nicely you could persuade one of the Southeastern staff to be an escort and so get a sneeky picture from the bridge during a line closure. However Network Rail has decreed that can no longer happen and even SE staff are now forbidden from climbing the steps.
So today’s release of Crossrail photos will probably not be the last but I have lost interest in recording progress daily. The last straw was a Network Rail employee jabbing his finger in my face while threatening to sue me for my photographic activities. I understood his message but the aggression was totally unnecessary.
The residents of Coptefield Drive, Abbey Terrace, Mottesfont Road and all the other places that have been blighted by Crossrail would probably think it was entirely typical Network Rail behaviour.
For the record, there has been no visible sign of any activity in the vicinity of Abbey Wood station this weekend to justify the massive inconvenience of a bus replacement service, or to be more accurate a coach replacement service without disabled access.