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Bonkers Blog June 2017

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21 June - Much improved rail station coming to Abbey Wood but worse train service

The penultimate meeting of the Crossrail Liaison Panel which took place yesterday evening was the usual mixture of interesting facts and smattering of silly questions from those who weren’t paying attention at the previous meeting.

First the facts which are mainly good news.

The station is still on course for a 22nd October opening and there will be only six more weekend rail closures this year. Four of them will be for one day only, Sundays 9th July, 3rd/17th September and 15th October. Finally 25th/26th November and 2nd/3rd December to remove the by then redundant footbridge. (From the temporary booking hall to the North Kent platform.)

A ‘practice’ open day may be held in the week preceding the official opening.

The ‘disabled’ ramps on the Church Manorway and Bostall Manorway footbridges should be opened by mid-August. Bostall will be handed over to Greenwich Council and Church Manorway will be retained as Network Rail infrastructure.

The station Public Address system will be further modified to attempt to accommodate the persistent noise complaints. The volume will be reduced by 35% at 7 p.m. each day and announcements switched off at 10. I had always understood that for a volume change to be readily noticed it had to be halved or doubled, however a promise to reduce ‘unnecessary’ announcements may be helpful.

Funds are available and suitable plans approved to solve the severe garden flooding problem but so far only two property owners have granted permission for the work to be carried out. Greenwich Council officers who claimed more experience in negotiating with property owners offered their assistance.

Mottisfont Road which was inconveniently closed for such a long time has been reopened but discussions over the fire escape at St. Benet’s Church are still continuing.

Tiffany Lynch from Bexley Council took a straw poll at the March meeting to judge the reaction to demolishing the 40 year old stairs from Gayton Road to the flyover. Pretty much everyone was in favour, however she said that demolition was far more expensive than renovation so they are going to stay.

The overhead train power supply is scheduled to be switched on on 1st October.

TfL will begin their consultations on buses to serve Crossrail within the next couple of weeks. (That’s exactly the same message given at the previous meeting three months ago.)

The proposals include the 180 being extended to the Quarry development in Fraser Road, Erith and the 469 diverted to provide a direct to Crossrail service for Upper Belvedere.

A new route 129 will link Thamesmead directly to Woolwich’s Crossrail station and a single deck 301 will connect Bexleyheath and Abbey Wood for the Elizabeth Line via Woolwich Road, Long Lane and Knee Hill which might put an end to the occasionally hour or more journey to Bexleyheath on the 229.

There were some comments about a single deck bus on Knee Hill but more than one panel member pointed out that ‘Not in Service’ double deck buses use it quite often and easing a pinch point near the summit would help enormously. New Road is already a problem for B11s due to parking and routing the 469 and 301 that way could only add to the danger. Probably Bexley Council will be looking for an excuse to restrict parking further.

At every Liaison Panel meeting since the first in December 2014 Network Rail staff have described the new station layout and provided illustrations but yesterday’s meeting showed that some panel members still fail to fully understand.

Starting from the western end there will be a footbridge to allow passengers to interchange between the North Kent and Elizabeth line. It will not provide any exit or entrance facility.

The central footbridge will serve the same purpose with the addition of one escalator to each platform which will reverse according to passenger flow patterns.

The only exit from the platforms will be at the Eastern end via stairs or lift, one each for each platform. Once past the barriers stairs and two lifts will provide access to ground level both to Gayton (south side) and Felixstowe (north side) Roads. That’s four lifts open 24 hours a day and not requiring a train ticket for use.

There will also be a footpath on the flyover in both a northerly and southerly direction. Bexley Council show very little sign of getting that facility ready in time. Nothing happens there most days.

When Crossrail services begin in December 2018 an additional ground level access will be provided between Felixstowe Road and the Elizabeth Line platform only. It will go behind the buffers of the terminating track.

Some panel members were unhappy about the various access arrangements. Apparently the mid-platform escalators should be replaced with lifts to allow wheelchair access. Try applying that across the Underground system and see what happens.

Lifts have a far lower people moving capacity than escalators and will be essential during peak hours which is why Network Rail chose them. In my opinion there should be two where the existing stairs are and stairs where the single escalator will be.

The 200 metre long platforms are too long for wheelchair users who find themselves alighting at the ‘wrong’ end of the train. Well get on a more convenient carriage then or wheel along the inside of the open plan train during the journey. How can Network Rail be expected to solve that problem? Run shorter trains perhaps.

Another fear I have heard at previous panel meetings is what happens if the station building catches fire? “There will be no way out for passengers still on the platform.”

No way out perhaps but two 200 metre platforms will serve as a safe assembly point and if the very worst happens the trains would obviously be driven away and there is no current at track level on the Elizabeth line.

There was also the traditional and seemingly inevitable complaint that the temporary bus stops are in the wrong place. Currently there is definitely no alternative.

ThameslinkIf you are wondering what today’s picture is all about…

It was taken three weeks ago on Abbey Wood station and I think the diamond shaped ‘ALL’ sign is something to do with ThamesLink trains. The service to Luton which will replace the more useful one to Blackheath, Lewisham, (for King’s College Hospital) and Waterloo.

There was a consultation about the loss of North Kent’s Charing Cross service but unlike the threatened loss of Victoria services from elsewhere in the borough which was supported by all three MPs, it received little publicity.

It looks like a fait accompli now.


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