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News and Comment June 2012

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28 June (Part 1) - Crossrail. Taken far too literally

Abbey Wood stationCouncillor John Waters was right about the downgrading of the passenger interchange facilities at Abbey Wood’s Crossrail station but just with their hand wringing over Queen Mary’s Hospital two years ago, Bexley council is powerless to do anything about it, the deed is already done.

A reader has drawn my attention to the current issue of Modern Railways magazine. The gist of their report as it affects Abbey Wood station is that the original design had Crossrail trains terminating in platforms sandwiched between the North Kent Line platforms. The redesign puts the Crossrail island platform on the north side of the station, with North Kent trains using an island to the south. This means that changing trains will involve either a footbridge or a subway, much less convenient than before.

The reason for the change is that Crossrail has specified some berthing sidings to be built at the Plumstead tunnel portal, which would be impossible to include if the Crossrail lines emerged between the North Kent running lines. The sidings will permit rolling stock to be kept near Abbey Wood overnight, reducing the need for empty stock movement back to Old Oak Common at the end of the day's service, and thus also extending the period that the line can be taken over for engineering work during the night.

The first plans I saw for Crossrail showed track extending for half a mile beyond Abbey Wood station towards Belvedere. I suspect that is still on the cards as several surveys and bore holes have been made in that area, but you can imagine how many carriage windows would be left intact if trains were parked overnight alongside Alsike Road.

Anyone who has been on a train between Abbey Wood and Plumstead is likely to have noticed that the ramp to the tunnel portal is to the north of the existing tracks and is wide enough for two tracks. Councillor John Waters is right but he has well and truly missed the boat. And the train.

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