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Bonkers Blog January 2017

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29 January - Crossrail cares, maybe too much

I sometimes think that Crossrail’s number one mission is to frustrate those of us who are trying to make a photographic record of what is the most exciting thing to hit Abbey Wood since Thamesmead was built in the sixties.

Two weeks ago Network Rail erected fencing on the flyover which goes far beyond that needed to protect their works. It extends towards Knee Hill and past the northbound temporary bus stop for no obvious reason. The flyover’s balustrade is not especially high but no one has fallen over it or been intent on self-destruction in the 30 years I have lived nearby.

There is no extra fencing on the opposite side of the bridge (Photo 3 below) nor is it continuous on the west side, there is a gap where the flyover crosses Gayton Road.

I can imagine that Crossrail may feel that they have compelled all pedestrians to use the flyover when few did so before their arrival and therefore must bear the responsibility for the safety issues that Bexley Council has been happy to abdicate, but they fall between two or more stools - and they are potentially dangerous.

An old friend of Bexley-is-Bonkers and not all that long ago one of its most important contributors ended up in an ambulance a week ago after tripping over one of Crossrail’s fence supports.

This is his abbreviated story…

While approaching the temporary bus stop on Harrow Manor Way flyover, I tripped over the concrete footings which are propping up a temporary fence. I was severely injured and rendered unconscious.

The footing should never have been there in the first place.

The fencing should have been fitted on the outer edge of its concrete base, not the inner, and then braced to the bridge railings.

What is the fence for? The flyover has always had its rail and no one has disappeared over it.

When I came round I was helped into a van (thanks to a Good Samaritan called Richard) who stemmed the blood gushing from my forehead and sat me down until the ambulance arrived. He went to meet it and promptly tripped over the same fence footing. Fortunately he was able to save himself using both hands. I, as you know, have only one arm.

I am not against change but Abbey Wood station is built only for the fittest. The overbridge between platforms is high enough for one train to piggyback on another.

Three modified shower cubicles masquerade as lifts which require a trained operative.

The unfit, the elderly and the disabled have the daunting prospect of labouring to the top with no centre rail to grab and the way down is ever scarier. The descent is steep and 2" angle Iron edges the stairs. It would do a lot of damage to anyone who lost their footing and tumbled down (†). Angle Iron is made for structural works not to protect stairs from chipping or breaking.

They should have taken lessons from the Victorian era and their reassuringly safe stairs.

Abbey Wood station is a no go zone for all but the fittest among us and the new flyover fence serves no useful purpose and is a hazard to children who cannot resist a hop skip and jump over the footings. My grandson does it and while passing on a bus I saw a parent try to restrain their own offspring.

I won’t be having another accident at Abbey Wood because it is safer use Woolwich Arsenal and a 180 bus. Abbey Wood has become far too dangerous.

Harrow Manorway Flyover Harrow Manorway Flyover Harrow Manorway Flyover Harrow Manorway Flyover

Photo 1: Fence supports intrude into the footpath area. Result: Elderly one armed man has a ride in an ambulance.

I feel obliged to write a small defence of Crossrail. They are far more safety conscious than Bexley Council which was content to leave the flyover unlit for months and the flyover’s only remaining staircase unlit for 30 years. It was Crossrail’s contractors who put that right and lit Gayton Road after it was left in the dark for months.

Wilton RoadThe station footbridge is high because it has to clear the 32,000 volt overhead power cables. In only nine months time the footbridge will be equipped with escalators. There is no centre hand rail on the stairs because the Health & Safety experts ruled against it.

Additionally one should never underestimate the stupidity of some local youths. One of my Crossrail contacts says that when suitably inebriated they are not averse to hopping over the railings to the footpath beneath to save a few seconds walk.

However the writer’s suggestion that the fence should have been placed in the outer of the three holes in the base supports would appear to be a valid one which would have prevented the accident that befell him while going for a bus.

They are easily tripped over as I have discovered for myself many times while taking too close an interest in the Wilton Road works which employ similar bases for the barriers. The remaining footpath is very narrow and I keep looking for one of Greenwich council’s HILLS apprentices. I have never before seen so many 40 year old beginners.

† It already has.


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