New Lewisham Developments – Part 2

Following on from my recent post looking at the big developments now going up in Lewisham, here is part two. These are generally smaller in scale, with most now under construction.

Riverdale House

Riverdale

This is Riverdale House from Galliard Homes, which will contain 137 flats. Completion is scheduled to be in Autumn 2015. It is just off Molesworth Street, next to the Ravensbourne river and opposite Lewisham shopping centre. It’s a refurbishment of an interesting office block dating from 1980-81. The plans seem to retain details from that era, such as the same type of brick extending from the main building to the front wall, staircase, and slope from street to wall. It’s good to see these kept.

52-54 Thurston Road

DSCF4164

Thurston RoadFamily Mosaic are behind this development, on an awkward site between two converging rail lines. It appears very budget. Small square windows and grey panels on walkways, as just about seen above through a train window. Just because it’s facing a rail line doesn’t necessitate such small windows and poor detailing. It doesn’t look too promising at all sadly.

There will be 62 DSCF4163units in total. Above left is a render showing the frontage facing Thurston Road. It’s not much better than the rear, and if the quality of materials in evidence on the section facing the railway line are replicated at the front this will be one ugly development.

Sherwood Court

Sherwood court

This proposal is directly next to the development above, and opposite Thurston Central. It’s decent for student accommodation (damning with faint praise I know), though the dark brick may appear a bit gloomy and overbearing. The stripes of yellow are intended to relieve this. The proportions are good, and the double height street frontage is welcome. Many have complained of lack of amenities for all the new builds. Those ground floor units look like they could accommodate some shops, pubs, bars etc, and with this being student housing it may be easier to get late licenses at the end away from the social housing block and next to the new bus stand. A decent place shouldn’t struggle for custom.

142 student housing units are planned with 410 bed spaces in total. Unlike the others, this has not yet commenced.

Premier Inn Hotel

premier inn lewisham

This is a 60 room hotel located on a small site by the (soon to be removed) roundabout outside the station, and is next to the railway line from Blackheath. It is almost complete.

All these new developments close to the station will not only result in more rail capacity needed for additional commuters, but also an eventual rebuilding of Lewisham station. There have been suggestions for many years that rebuilding Lewisham station is needed, but the complexity of the job seems to bring a shudder to Network Rail, both in terms of cost and also the difficulty in carrying out the work. With more and more development around the station, large scale rebuilding is increasinly difficult. Perhaps the proposed Bakerloo line extension from Elephant & Castle will be the trigger to finally get the ball rolling.

One possible way to help finance maybe over-site development. Is there scope for a tall development where the DLR’s blue shed roof is? TfL are short of cash and have made noises about over-site developments to gain revenue, either by selling the land or building themselves and then letting out. This is common in many countries but the UK has been slow to adopt it.

In the short term an entrance to the north facing Tesco is a must. Currently people entering or exiting the station and heading north are forced on a lengthy detour. There was an exit to the north but this was closed recently under spurious safety reasons. A petition has recently been set up to reopen this gate and provide an easier exit. It would also divide entrants and exits to the station and move some users away from the main entrance. This would lessen congestion, which will become more evident as additional commuters use the main entrance, coming from new developments to the south.

No doubt Southeastern do not want to open the gate as they fear losing revenue, which is fair enough. So the obvious solution is to have a staffed entrance and exit with barriers. If they deem that to be too expensive it could be a gate line observed by CCTV. This happens on quite a few London Overground stations since they took over Southern stations. Perhaps this kind of proactive approach will only ever come about if and when TfL take over southeastern’s metro routes.

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Crossrail & London Bridge Rebuild

Crossrail work continues this weekend between Abbey Wood and Woolwich with another closure of the line from Plumstead to Dartford, with dozens of workers on the line. One reason for the closure is that the east bound track between Plumstead and Abbey Wood has been re-positioned to the south by a metre or two. It now follows the re-aligned London bound track, which was moved a month or two back. It’s not too easy to make out below in this phone picon my clapped out mobile, which doesn’t have a decent zoom.

Crossrail track & bridge work

Crossrail track & bridge work

In the foreground the foundations have been laid for the replacement footbridge. Another footbridge around half a mile closer to Plumstead at Church Manorway has had its main span installed, after work had to be halted on a previous weekend closure.

It’s just behind the bridge foundation that the tracks curve to the left. This is to allow space to install two Crossrail tracks to the right. Other big jobs coming up are to build the temporary station at Abbey Wood and then demolish the existing buildings. There’s also some houses to demolish around Abbey Wood station including the two closest to the platforms seen below

Abbey Wood houses demolitionThe houses have been completely gutted since this image was taken and the road fenced off. Demolition looks to be very imminent.

Another big infrastructure project in London currently in full swing is Thameslink. At London Bridge station major work has been taking place over the past week on completing platform building. This has resulted in a complete closure of the station for all trains on the side of the station served by Southern. This is a precursor to platform closures on the Southeastern and First Capital Connect platforms.

It’s impressive just how much has been achieved during the closure. Passing by the site on the train shows a mammoth amount of work going on, with a huge amount of workers involved in installing new bridges, tracks, station platforms and buildings.

DSCF4237DSCF4238Work on these particular schemes should be complete tonight and the lines reopen tomorrow.

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New Developments in Lewisham

I havn’t covered Lewisham too often on this blog. Other great sites such as se13ure have been covering the developments at Lewisham Gateway, which is now in full swing. Passing through on a train shows the many development sites close to the line. My recent posting about developments along the Greenwich line has inspired me to do a round up of Lewisham developments, as so many are visible from the line. As with the Greenwich line, the many developments will add to the pressure on southeastern rail services in the near future.

Lewisham Regeneration sitesThe rudimentary map on the left shows various development sites across Lewisham, and I will expand upon each individual site below. The mostly completed site is in orange. This is the very good Loampit Vale / Renaissance development that includes a leisure centre.

Sites now under construction are in red. This includes Thurston Central, Lewisham Gateway, a Premier Inn hotel, 52-54 Thurston Road and Riverdale at the far south.

The blue area is a development given approval on an industrial estate, which is still awaiting a start.

Thurston Central

Taken from passing train

Taken from passing train

This block is now very visible on the train to London Bridge from Lewisham. 406 flats are under construction here. This is one serious block and could end up with a  monolithic appearance if the cladding is poor. There is also a large retail store included within the development. On the left is a Matalan, and other shops are in that block. The site is now almost surrounded by new developments, and this site is to include some housing under Lewisham Council’s plans, though no specific proposal has come forward. The current single level store and associated car park is an inefficient use of land so a redevelopment is welcome.

Lewisham Gateway

lewisham gatewayDSCF4159Nine long years after consultation begun in 2005 this site has finally begun. Stage 1 has commenced including 193 new homes.

A massive worksite has been created which is opening up parts of the river previously covered, and working on the future road layout. The roundabout near the station will be removed. Walking links between the station and town centre should be much improved.

Progress can be followed on the Se13ure blog here.

Loampit Vale / Renaissance

Loampit Vale788 new homes in this large Barrett Homes development. I’m not keen on most Barrett’s developments but this is the best I’ve seen from them. It is mostly complete but some buildings are still under construction. I really do like this with the varied towers – some brick and some with blue panels, the varied materials used across the whole development as well as the leisure centre and its lighted tiles. The base of the towers also integrates extremely well at street level with it’s double-height shop frontages.

Two issues though – why no segregated cycle lane on the very wide paving here to avoid the extremely congested road? Cyclists must also contend with very busy bus stops.

Secondly, have any of the well designed retail units at the base of the towers been let? Last I saw they weren’t, and ludicrous London rents may well be playing a part again here. There are often complaints that these developments just create dormitory towns and that there just aren’t the amenities nearby. High rents often act as a block to independent retailers wishing to give things a go or making a success of things without charging high prices. With reasonable rents units would be let and thrive. We see the problem of empty units in many new developments in London. It isn’t as bad in other UK cities in my experience, where rents are less.

Wide paving & no cycle lane.

Wide paving & no cycle lane.

Empty unit. No cycle lane.

Empty unit. No cycle lane.

Heathside and Lethbridge Estate Regeneration

heathside estateThis is a £200m scheme which has rebranded the area as ‘Central Park’.

There were 565 homes on the estates. Over a number of phases 1201 new homes are being built.

These are located to the north of Lewisham station past Tesco. The towers with blue cladding have stood out in views of Lewisham for a while now.

By the way, when looking on streetview at this area I noticed how bad the streetscape was. Not like Lewisham council to be so bad I thought. Then I saw the Greenwich council street signs. Parts of this area are a bit of a Greenwich Council enclave, and based on streetview you can really tell. The usual public realm fails and neglect are evident.

Looking around at some of the estates in Lewisham (including some to be demolished) shows a much better streetscape. Even though demolition is imminent they still appeared to be looked after (see image below). You have wooden, low rise fencing by the areas of grass, and not the cheap nasty stainless steel ones Greenwich uses. The concrete housing blocks had red window frames, green garden fences, and decent front doors to soften the effect of the concrete buildings. It appears pretty green and leafy. Not everything looks well maintained but there’s enough nice touches. It looks like some care is given.

lewisham managed estateHere’s another Lewisham estate nearby called Orchard Gardens. Looked after well. Nothing radical or expensive. Just the basics done well.

Lewisham Orchard Gardens 3
Then there’s the Greenwich council areas a minute away, shown below. Swaths of tarmac which isn’t supposed to be a car park so is a cheap replacement for paving, cheap stainless steel street furniture, the cheapest ugliest bins they could get, a bent street sign and not much greenery to welcome visitors. It all looks miserable. Sure, this is a snapshot of one day on streetview and that sign could have been fixed, but it matches the maintenance standards seen over almost all the borough over such a long period in Greenwich.

Greenwich estate nearbyTo be fair, when scrolling along there it isn’t all as bad, but it looks as though the better bits are a legacy of things put in quite a few years ago.

There’s many sources of funding they could use to improve areas. The huge amounts of development in the borough have seen millions of section 106 and CIL payments flood in. TfL give millions each year to Greenwich, and improvements to public areas are allowed to be spent from a section of that budget. Other London councils do. There’s the council reserves which have swelled by hundreds of millions in recent years. EU funds may be worth looking into as well for deprived areas.

What is needed is an audit to be carried out of EVERY area in the borough, then a department created dedicated to working through improvements. They should gain design input and come up with street guidance plans for departments to adhere to whilst undertaking future work. Easy jobs can be done first, like removing the many examples of broken street furniture, fencing etc and/or any other superfluous clutter. Then replace those that are necessary by removing the cheap & ugly examples of various street furniture with better quality equivalents. Think about how to improve the greenery.

After the simple things are done move onto removing or rebuild the more expensive things such as broken walls, raised planters etc which are seen all over. Finally, funding permitting, the big stuff like putting in children’s play areas etc, building exteriors, new facilities such as bin stores, secure cycle storage etc. The first couple of stages would hardly cost a thing as funding is sought for bigger changes.

Whoops, I went into another anti-Greenwich moan there. But they get this stuff so wrong so often. Anyway, there’s quite a few more sites under development at this moment in Lewisham, and others that have plans drawn up. There will be a follow up post in the coming days covering these.

EDIT : Greenwich are apparently spending £1.6m on refurbishing the Orchard estate in that area. It is very close to the ‘Orchard Gardens’ estate in Lewisham shown above. Very few areas get that treatment (if it involves improving public areas) and I wonder if they were shamed into it by being so close to Lewisham. It could however just be internal work, windows etc which is far more widespread as part of the ‘decent homes’ initiative.

If this scheme is above and beyond the work councils are required to do then I welcome Greenwich investing substantially in improvements. But it’s hard to know who or what is being done as there is NOTHING on Greenwich’s website about it. You’d have thought such a large £1.6m scheme would garner a bit of attention. There is a separate story though that £50k was spent on improving communal areas so credit to them for that. The funding was secured from outside bodies DEFRA and SITA, which is the kind of thing Greenwich could benefit from more widely. Add those external funds to the ample revenues they already receive and much could be achieved to improve the borough.

 

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New developments by the Greenwich Line

Royal_Arsenal_Block_C1_view_03_A_rev-CA large number of developments are now under construction close to the Southeastern line running via Greenwich, which will see cuts in the number of peak time trains in just over four months time. So it was a bit worrying to read a comment from ‘SEdriver’ on the London Reconnections blog casting doubt on longer trains being ready to run by January 2015. As previously reported, nearly 20% of trains will be cut in the evening rush hour on the Greenwich line. Capacity is supposed to be maintained by extending the remaining 80% of trains. If 12 car trains do not run then will this be achieved?

But even if capacity can be maintained at current levels, it still raises the question of just how long will that be sufficient? Overcrowding and passenger numbers continue to increase, yet southeastern lines in SE London are some of the few in London with no plans for additional trains any time soon.

After reading the latest comment casting doubt on longer trains, I decided to look into just what developments are now under construction, or due to start imminently. I’ve listed them below from Slade Green up to Deptford, and included only those that will see a reasonable number of people walking to stations.

Slade Green

Ratio – 372 new homes. Close to Slade Green station and developed by Red Row. Construction is ongoing with first occupants moving in from September 2014.

Erith

Erith Park – 622 new homes. Construction has begun. Replaces former Larner Road estate.

Erith Park development

Erith Park development

Belvedere

Belvedere Park. 402 properties. Some complete whilst others are still under construction.

Abbey Wood

Cross Quarter. 220 homes. Construction has just commenced.

(Thamesmead) – 296 homes in Southmere Village Stage 3 under Gallions plans. New owner Peabody Homes is revising scheme. The development is within walking distance to station.

Plumstead

No large developments nearby at present.

Woolwich Arsenal

A large number under construction. Commuters moving to Woolwich have the option of DLR & river boat services but many will use Southeastern. At the Royal Arsenal there are various stages of development at different levels of completion -

Stage 4. 592 flats. Under construction. Located in towers above Crossrail station.

Stage 5. 92 properties. Under construction. Located closer to Thames.

Stage 6. 219 flats. Above Crossrail station. In two towers next to Stage 4. Imminent.

Stage 3. 234 properties at ‘Laboratory Square’. Not yet begun despite following stages beginning. Presumably next?

There are also 2,032 more flats planned in the Berkeley Homes masterplan and also other developments such as Crossrail’s planned development of 394 flats, but these are not advanced enough to add immediate pressure to the rail line.

Connaught Estate rebuild – 654-684 new homes (Replacing existing homes here and at both Morris Walk and Maryon Grove listed below under Woolwich Dockyard). Net increase of 500 at three sites with 1100 homes demolished and replaced by 1600 new build. Work beginning summer 2014.

Former Co-op department store. 74 flats in refurbishment of existing building. Under construction.

Tesco ‘Woolwich Central’ stage 2 – 512 additional homes. Located next to currently built section. Construction not yet begun but should start soon.

Woolwich Dockyard

Morris Walk Estate rebuild as One Woolwich – 696-766 new homes

Maryon Grove rebuild – 150-165 new homes

Charlton

No large developments nearby.

Developments at stations past Charlton have a wider choice of transport to major areas of employment. Some commuters will be using the DLR or Jubilee Line. However SE still provide quick access to central London and will be used by sizable numbers of commuters.

Westcombe Park

Victoria Way –  145 properties under construction

Greenwich Millenium Village Stage 3. 500 properties currently under construction. Located about 10 minutes walk from Westcombe Park station so reasonable to assume a decent number will use southeastern trains along with the Jubilee Line.

The many other developments on the Peninsula (many now under construction) will be closer to the Jubilee Line so the numbers using southeastern are likely to be limited.

Maze Hill

Greenwich Square  – 645 in total. Former hospital site. Some buildings almost complete. Occupation begins soon.

The Peltons – 86+ across three sites. Opposite side of junction to Greenwich Square. Parts complete September 2014.

Alcatel Telegraph works – 272 flats. Planning permission April 2014. Cathedral Group.

Lovell’s Wharf/River Gardens – 700 properties in total. Not entirely sure how many have so far been constructed, how many under construction now and how many to be built in future stages after planning permission refused in 2013.

Enderby Wharf – 770 homes. Barrett Homes.

Greenwich

Movement – 181 residential apartments, 358 student apartments, 104 bed hotel. Some completed. Located directly next to the rail and DLR station.

New Capital Quay – 980 homes. Completing now.

Caledonian Wharf / Hilton’s Wharf – 85 homes. Half this development seems to be under construction. This building runs alongside the Creek.

Deptford

Now under construction directly next to Deptford station

Now under construction directly next to Deptford station

Deptford Project – 127 homes right next to station. Can be seen above. Construction now begun.

Paynes & Borthwick – 257 homes. Is this completely finished and occupied now? Last I saw it it mostly looked complete and I know some people have moved in.

There’s also Convoys Wharf with 3500 new homes. This isn’t as advanced as many others listed above, as it has been in planning discussion and dispute for years. Though in March 2014 the Mayor gave outline planning permission and it is likely work will begin soon.

There are many more developments in Deptford that are planned with many towards Rotherhithe. Their location will see a decent number of people using the London Overground but some will possibly head to Deptford station.

Have I missed any others along the entire line that will place pressure on services? I’ve excluded many that do not look like starting any time soon. This also doesn’t include other developments that aren’t within walking distance of a station. Of course at other developments people will still drive, take a bus or cycle to a station but the list would just be too long.

In addition there will are many more proposals at various stages of planning. Recent masterplans at Woolwich and Charlton would also see much induct rial land used for housing purposes particularly in some of the areas mid way between Woolwich Dockyard and Charlton.

Pressure on services

The excellent new Royal Greenwich Time blog has a recent post showing that Greenwich is projected to have the largest population growth of any London borough from 2011-2013, yet the biggest reduction in employment. This will put massive strain on transport networks as more people are traveling further to work. Though this post focuses on rail there will of course be big pressure on roads, health, housing, education and more from this growth.

With all these developments under construction right now, or in advanced planning and likely to start soon, it is imperative that issues are overcome to ensure 12 car trains can run as soon as possible. In addition the process of securing additional trains for the line should begin as soon as possible so every train can make maximum use of new infrastructure. Greenwich council belatedly supported the push for re-zoning Woolwich Arsenal station. They now need to be joining Lewisham, Bexley and Bromley councils, as well as Dartford and Kent, in lobbying for more trains, as should local MP’s. The current vague plans which will only provide new trains in 3-4 years may be too long to wait.

Click here to see a good blogpost from the Barneystringer blog which highlights that Kent has some of the highest numbers of people working in London compared to locally, compared to other counties surrounding London.

I’m sure some readers are thinking why procure additional trains for a couple of years up to 2018, when Crossrail will render them surplus to requirements? Well, even with Crossrail the Greenwich line is in an area with the biggest population growth in London, so long term demand is there. Plus, many trains on the line arrive from Kent, where future growth will be focused to add to the numbers traveling into London, with large scale developments planned at Dartford, Rochester, Chatham, and Ebbsfleet Garden City (next to Northfleet station). Any new stock would find a long term use.

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Progress on the South Eastern branch of Crossrail

abbey-wood-station-design-architects-impression

Areas along the Crossrail route continue to evolve as work advances at both stations and development sites nearby. Starting at Abbey Wood, construction is ongoing with much track work in progress between the station and Woolwich. A trip along the line by rail shows numerous orange-clad workers and machinery on the route. Abbey Wood station has also recently seen the installation of a new bridge at the station. This comprises both the first part of the planned temporary station as well as the the first installment of the permanent station.

Temporary station site and stairs

Temporary station site and stairs

The section on the left of the bridge (shown above) will be in place up to 2017, and will form access from the temporary station now under construction behind the fence and blue hoardings. The section of bridge to the right of that, which includes the span covering the tracks with two sets of stairs heading down, will remain after the dismantling of the temporary station and form part of the new station when it opens in 2017. The curved roof line above the steps, just about seen on the right, shows the higher spec design compared to the temporary stairs on the left. A better image showing the curved roofline is below -

Permanent staircase - first section of new station

Permanent staircase – first section of new station

A Crossrail track heading from central London will go to the right of the platform and bridge, where the land has been cleared. The track on the right side of the existing southeastern lines becomes the Crossrail track heading to central London.

The image below of the temporary station from Network Rail and Crossrail does not seem to match the bridge installed. Plans for the temporary station must have altered. Perhaps the station will be at ground level and not elevated on stilts.

Stairs on newly installed bridge do not match plans

Stairs on newly installed bridge do not match plans

Further along the line a new pedestrian footbridge has almost finished at Church Manorway near the Abbey Wood and Plumstead boundary. The final lifting of the main span had to be abandoned recently due to high winds. Work is also now underway for bridge replacement at Bostall Manorway and Mottisfont Road. Once completed the entire stretch between Abbey Wood and Woolwich will be wide enough to move the current tracks (parts already have been) and install Crossrail tracks.

Work on the Sainsburys led development of ‘Cross Quarter’ by Abbey Wood station is now well underway, with foundation and piling work ongoing and a large crane assembled on site. Related road works will shortly reduce Harrow Manorway to one direction at a time with temporary traffic lights. Work on the flyover above Abbey Wood station has also reduced the road to one lane in each direction. These combined Crossrail and Cross Quarter works will mean much more congestion for people heading from Thamesmead in coming months.

Main route from Thamesmead. Supermarket on right.

Main route from Thamesmead. Supermarket on right.

I still think Harrow Manorway (shown above) will need to be widened from its current two lane status to four lanes, with a dedicated bus lane in each direction. The road is already quite wide so a great deal of additional space would not be needed. There’s ample space alongside its entire stretch to widen, along with implementing a segregated cycle lane alongside running all the way from the station and supermarket to the pedestrian bridge over Thamesmead’s dual carriageways. This would help buses avoid inevitable future congestion on the way from Thamesmead, as well as make cycling a more enticing option.

Harrow Manorway is the major (and only practical) route from Thamesmead to Abbey Wood station and usage will only increase with additional homes planned for Thamesmead. Add in a large new supermarket and housing development facing it at Cross Quarter, and the major Peabody Homes development just off it in Thamesmead and congestion will become severe. The transport assessment for Sainsburys stated that it would bring traffic up to the maximum capacity. That’s before the numerous other developments and Crossrail.

Thamesmead towerWork on the aforementioned £200m redevelopment of Thamesmead South (formerly Tavy Bridge and now ‘Southmere Village’) has halted whilst new owners Peabody Homes look to alter the scheme. Originally drawn up by Gallions, the plans (see left) were for a tower facing a roundabout and a square behind next to the lake. Gallions had a pretty terrible record with new developments and built some awful stuff across Thamesmead (though those plans looked better), whilst Peabody have constructed some great buildings in recent years and place far more emphasis on quality architecture, so hopefully the re-worked plans will transform the blighted name of Thamesmead.

The former Thamesmead new acres library remains standing – a small stump left over whilst all else was demolished in 2013 before plans were halted. I’m not sure why it hasn’t gone like the rest of the site, as even if plans are altered, it is presumably not part of any new scheme. Then again perhaps it will be, and Peabody want to retain part of what made Thamesmead unique. The architecture is interesting and would look great if cleaned up. Without the early modernist stages of Thamesmead, the town is just a bunch of squat Barrett boxes, some terrible 80s and 90s planning, rubbish post-millenial Gallions built dross and an out of town retail park for a town centre, which helped kill off much of the formative attempts at a town centre. So if it is retained it’s not such a bad idea, with some modifications.

PLUMSTEAD

Large new Crossrail facility highlighted in orange

Large new Crossrail facility highlighted in orange

Construction is also well advanced on the Crossrail train maintenance yard at Plumstead – details can be seen here. This facility hasn’t gained much attention, but is pretty sizable and includes eight lines for stabling trains and three for maintenance trains. There will be 100 parking spaces for staff and 20 for Crossrail lorries and vans. The plans for this facility only came to light after much of the proposals for Crossrail were submitted, and initially registered as being temporary. It is now a permanent facility. It should provide many new jobs locally, and isn’t situated too close to residential areas so hopefully noise will not be an issue.

At Woolwich station work continues inside the box to fit out the station with the installation of platforms, track bed, escalators and lifts. Above ground a couple of the Berkeley Homes towers are complete, and the concrete core of another has topped out at about 20 stories high. The completed section looks to be good quality. Heading past that and the Thames tunnels have both been complete for some months now.

Custom House stationThe Victorian tunnels under the Royal Docks, formally used until 2006 by the line running from north Woolwich and Richmond, have completed refurbishment for Crossrail use.

The next station along the line is Custom House, with a render of the completed station on the left. It’s a basic design of prefabricated modular parts shipped and formed on site, located adjacent to Custom House DLR station and close to the Excel centre. The station structure is taking shape pretty quickly at the moment with around a quarter complete.

Construction well underway at Custom House

Construction well underway at Custom House

Moving along from the site of Custom House station and work has just finished on one tunnel from Limmo Peninsula to Victoria Dock on the way to Canary Wharf . The second tunnel should be completed soon – It took about 9 weeks to dig the first. Work will be complete by the end of 2014.

A couple of moderately tall buildings in a development named ‘Hoola’ have recently secured planning permission close to Custom House station and construction has begun.

'Hoola' is the two towers at bottom left

‘Hoola’ is the two towers at bottom left

The last remaining station before the line merges with the north east branch from Shenfield at Stepney is Canary Wharf, which is now externally complete. Work inside on the shopping centre is ongoing and it will open in May 2015. The lattice roof has gaps along the length to allow trees to rise through.

Tom Lawson

As at Woolwich, the station box is seeing platforms, track work, lift, escalator and ticket office work. Much work has now been completed for the entire south east branch. The entire tunneling work for all of Crossrail could well be complete by the end of 2014. Station and track works will then be the main focus.

Many proposed developments close to stations on the south east section will continue construction in future which I will report on, along with any new plans that are bound to emerge. Who knows, if Bexley and Greenwich councils get their heads together and come up with a masterplan for Abbey Wood, as strongly urged by Crossrail, we could see some cohesive planning for the many areas nearby that will be redeveloped.

 

 

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More on Southeastern & Crossrail

New build above Woolwich Crossrail

New build above Woolwich Crossrail

Another transport related post today. Firstly a bit on southeastern and then at the end Crossrail. Here’s a few more snippets regarding changes to southeastern services -

The last train will leave Charing Cross at the same time as now but will not head straight to London Bridge after Waterloo East. Instead it will head to Cannon Street after Waterloo East, then on to London Bridge. After its detour to Cannon Street the last train leaves London Bridge at 00:36 instead of 00:26. Good news if drinking around Cannon Street or London Bridge – an extra 10 minutes drinking time. From 2015, people having a late drink can use the 24 hour tube on weekends to go North Greenwich.

Later trains from Cannon Street should perk up the pubs, bars and clubs in the City. The area already has quite a bit more late night entertainment than it used to, and this will only increase when people easily can stay late. Places like the ‘one new change’ shopping centre nearby, with its late bars and restaurants, are another sign of the City changing from a late night ghost town, which the addition of later trains will encourage further.

As I covered last week the Greenwich line sees the biggest cuts in the number of trains but capacity is maintained through longer trains. The forthcoming changes to trains on the Greenwich line sees 16 evening peak trains cut to 13 – a 19% reduction. Assuming each train averages 8 cars, then those 13 services need to see 24 extra carriages added to maintain current levels.

I said this in the last post but worth repeating it again – it is well worth reading this through post to see why SE London has not had the longer trains it should have had for years. First work was done in early ’90s. Millions spent and then scrapped due to recession, then impending privatisation. After a long delay hopes were for a mid-2012 introduction. Constant overruns since. The latest news was that now January 2015 would see maximum length trains to coincide with cuts in frequency. However at the end of the article there are recent comments from ‘SEDriver’ who states -

“12 car testing did take place and our health and safety reps at the depots were unhappy with the sighting on some platforms, they went to southeastern with their issues and basically my employer haven’t been exactly rushing to sort the problem out (contractors need to move cameras etc etc) so far nothing has been rectified and no more 12 car tests have taken place to my knowledge.”

He also added -

“We don’t have the stock as the networkers are getting on years, the metcams especially are falling apart (never should have been built they are so much more complicated than brels) also I think they missed a trick, they should have kept the class 365s as they were compatible with 465s and 466s. Would have had more stock to play with.”

Another person wrote -

“A pal (living in Hayes as it happens) sent this to me a couple of weeks ago: “It looks as though 12-car Networker workings have been suspended: in the latest CWN, what were 12′s from January are now listed simply as 10-car 465 and 466 XXX instead of showing unit diagram numbers; this may be because of sight lines on curved platforms, which the drivers were unhappy about; or maybe they can’t keep enough 465s in running order.”

Assuming these are true then delays to introduction could persist yet further into the time of service cuts. What impact will that have? Have Southeastern, Network Rail or the DfT carried out forecast modelling of crowding with the intention of 12 car trains, and if so what happens if they do not run? Two 10 car trains with a longer gap between may not be enough. And what’s the plan in two years time when many new housing developments are complete if stock levels are only maintained and yet reliability declines.

IMG_20140708_140751

Viewed from ‘dial arch’ square.

As for Crossrail, the flats above the station in Woolwich are now visible with the tarpaulin removed. In common with much of the Arsenal development Berkeley seem to have done a good job on the architectural front. The buildings are handsome additions, with a solid framed frontage and recessed balconies. The red sections within the grid are not terracota panels but red brick, and look all the better for it. Thankfully the frames and penthouse are a classier black and not drab grey as seen so often.

IMG_20140708_140519These aren’t going to set the world on fire, but given some of the dross around and what Woolwich has suffered from then this does fine. The detailing is good, windows a decent size and the brickwork varied on the tower to the right in the pic above. Retail will be on the ground floor. This is a rare case of the finished article looking better than the render -

Woolwich crossrail phase 4

 

With the removal of some of the Arsenal boundary fence (seen on the left in the render above) and further improvements along the dual carriageway, to remove clutter and mess beyond the improved section, this should help connect the two sides of the road. The dangerous building, that was fenced off on the other side of the road to this development, has finally been demolished. That whole parade is a bit of a mess and could do with rebuilding to provide high density housing with retail at street level.

Also regarding Crossrail there is a public information meeting being held from 3:00-7:00pm on Wednesday 16 July at Abbey Wood Community Centre, 4 Knee Hill.

Work continues with line closures over the past three weekends on the southeastern line. The temporary station at Abbey Wood doesn’t seem to be making much progress despite an opening date of ‘summer 2014′. This needs to be complete before the current station is demolished.

 

 

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Southeasterns’ 2015 timetable released

Southeastern’s draft timetable for services from January 2015 has been released today. Half the platforms will be closed at London Bridge meaning alterations are needed. The bad news is the removal of 1 train to central London in the morning peak and 3 heading out in the evening on the Greenwich line. The good news today is the long awaited extension of Victoria to Dartford via Lewisham from its current last train at 20:39 to 00:09.

The three trains cut at London Bridge are the 17:37, 17:58 and 18:21. The 18:57 also doesn’t stop at London Bridge as it starts at Charing Cross so is unable with the platform reductions. The 17:14 is no longer running, as shown in the consultation, but this actually results in an improvement. It is replaced with one two minutes earlier at 17:12 making the gaps slightly more even.

The last train from Victoria to Dartford will stop at Lewisham at 00.33. This is 2 minutes before the last train from central London to Charlton, Woolwich, Plumstead, Abbey Wood, Erith, Dartford etc so a quick connection will be possible. This is very good news for those who are in Victoria, Peckham, Denmark Hill etc late in the evening. This benefits those coming on a late southern train to Victoria who then want to head to SE London, as well as people arriving at Victoria on late coaches, and hospital users at the two big hospitals at Denmark Hill. This is a great improvement and well done for extending this service.

Train lengthening is a pressing issue and needed on many services as it is, without less trains and 3 years of future route growth. A 10% rise in passengers on the line over the next 3 years is not an excessive estimate with many new developments along the line. Last years growth was 2.8%. With three services cut from 5:30 to 7pm, and one not stopping at London Bridge, the pressure will be even greater up to 2018. It is to be hoped that a substantial amount of fast trains are 12 carriages and slow trains are 10 on the Greenwich line – the maximum possible due to short platforms at Woolwich Dockyard.

Off the top of my head there are large developments along the line at Slade Green (Howbury), Erith Park on the site of Larner Road estate, Cross Quarter in Abbey Wood, Peabody’s £200m ‘garden city’ at Thamesmead South, Woolwich Arsenal, Woolwich Dockyard estate demolition and rebuild, Victoria Way in Charlton, Convoys Wharf at Deptford and the development by the station. Merely maintaining capacity with longer, yet fewer trains, may not be enough. If those longer trains are not the maximum possible length then new stock to extend them may be needed before confirmed new trains in 2018.

Here’s an excellent and comprehensive overview from London Reconnections of why 12 carriage trains have not been introduced so far and the difficulties involced. It is well worth a read to explain the problems and slipped dates over the past few years. They should have been introduced 20 years ago. Then the plan was scrapped after much work was done due to lack of foresight in the early ’90s recession as well as impending privatisation before resurrection of the idea 10 years later, with work starting again a couple of years ago. There was some hope 12 carriages could be up and running by the Olympics which didn’t happen. Then the plan was for January 2014. Hasn’t happened. Southeastern boasted of thousands of extra seats from January and longer trains. No word on why it hasn’t happened though. Southeastern famed communications are in evidence again. There have apparently been issues with union agreement, driver rotas and trains going to be re-painted in Doncaster.

One comment on the site raises an interesting suggestion. It is to close the existing Woolwich Dockyard station which is in a cutting making platform extensions expensive. Every other station can accommodate 12 car trains on the Greenwich line except Woolwich Dockyard. An idea is to move the station slightly west to the open ground by Morris Walk estate. This would put it at a more even distance between Woolwich Arsenal and Charlton. The station is the least used on the line and saw the biggest decline in passenger numbers last year.

The estate is to be demolished soon and rebuilt to a greater density, though it loses some social housing which is unacceptable. Not only should there be more social housing, but money from the developers could be used to partly or wholly fund a new station and increase permeability between the two sides which the railway slices through. This would then allow 12 carriage trains on all-stopping trains.

On the subject of new trains, maybe one reason the powers that be havn’t prioritised new stock as they look at southeastern usage figures and see the lowest growth of rail franchises serving London. But one wonders how accurate that is when riding without a ticket is so easy – few staffed stations, no staff on trains, few barriers and those in operation open most of the time. London Overground’s predecessor was Silverlink on part of its route (North and West London line). It ran at poor frequencies, had no barriers and much unpaid travel. London Overground took it over, staffed many stations from open to close with barriers, put staff on some trains, upped frequencies and passenger growth has been phenomenal. London Overground now goes deep into south London, west London, North London, and east London. Next year it takes over Greater Anglia routes in North East London. SE London gets a couple of stations and only close to central London which are difficult for connections. The Greenwich line trains does not interchange with New Cross.

South west London doesn’t have many London Overground services but are getting hundreds of new carriages currently to extend suburban stock and that’s without cuts and major disruption to services.

The tube has seen billions invested. Many new trains. In 2015 it will run all night over the weekend. SE Londoners and people heading to Kent will still have to rush for a packed midnight train. Fair enough up to 2018 with substantial building works. After that though hopefully some later trains at weekends.

Southern and Thameslink are also seeing hundreds of new carriages coming into operation currently. The orders for these trains have an option for additional extra trains. Shouldn’t these options be taken up, or extended, and go to southeastern? The options have been there for years. If taken up some new stock could perhaps have been introduced in time for January 2015, or on a rolling program after.

The next few years will be difficult for many. It’s not all bad and in some cases an improvement. New trains are needed though. The options on the table for extending current train orders should be taken up as soon as possible to make the next 4 years more tolerable and cater for the coming growth.

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