Angerstein foot crossing at risk of closure

REPRIEVED – as of 11 April 2019 Network Rail have confirmed that the crossing will not close permanently this Saturday. There will be a temporary closure to do the works but it will re-open. There will be a review in future (so it may still close permanently at some future point). But Network Rail are now very aware that the crossing has a lot of support and interest.

Network Rail: ‘We want to put things right on Angerstein crossing’ (12 April 2019, Charlton Champion).
Network Rail apologises and will look again at Angerstein Wharf crossing closure (11 April 2019, Charlton Champion).

The crossing has been under threat of permanent closure but that threat has receded pending review. This post links to a petition (see latest update), a form to sign up to hear more and links to other local blog posts from The Charlton Champion and From The Murky Depths.

SIGN UP to hear more: if you’d like to be kept informed of any future consultations I’ve set up an email-address-collecting form and promise not to spam you (or scroll to form below).

I’ve asked Network Rail if they’ve published a statement on the crossing’s closure (couldn’t find anything on their website) particularly in light of Matthew Pennycook’s letter (see point 5) and will add anything when they get back to me [statement at end].

PETITION TO SAVE THE CROSSING
https://www.change.org/p/network-rail-please-don-t-close-the-angerstein-railway-pedestrian-crossing – over 750 signatures at 12 April.

VIDEO of the Angerstein crossing by Morthren

ANGERSTEIN CROSSING updates and links

  1. There’s a pedestrian foot crossing on the Angerstein branch line (which carries freight to and from Angerstein Wharf) near Westcombe Park which is due to close permanently because Network Rail are reconfiguring the track, signalling and infrastructure [Map]. The branch line is not electrified.
  2. Network Rail wrote to residents directly affected by the works on 27 March 2019. The letter implies that the works will take place from 13 to 21 April but also mentions that the steps will be demolished. Further discussions with Network Rail indicates the intention is to close the crossing completely (see 6.2 below).
  3. The crossing was added to Greenwich’s heritage list in January (via Charlton Champion) and appears on page 28 of this 151 page PDF (found via this link)
  4. Apparently lots of new flats are being built nearby and new residents might find the crossing quite handy.
  5. Greenwich MP Matthew Pennycook has written a letter to Network Rail objecting to the permanent closure without consultation.
  6. The Murky Depths has written a couple of posts, each has over 10 comments
    1. One of London’s last railway foot crossings to close? (6 April 2019)
    2. Network Rail confirm closure of Charlton rail crossing (9 April 2019)
  7. A crossing has been in use since the line was built in the 1850s. Network Rail claims that there’s no right of way but this seems surprising given its regular and continued use.
  8. Freight trains derailed at Angerstein Junction (where the freight line joins the commuter lines) in 2014 and 2015 taking the lines out of action for most of the day. In both cases accident reports indicated that the likely cause was an unevenly loaded wagon though the track was also causative factor in the 2014 incident. [2014 report] [2015 report]
  9. There was a consultation document in 2017 which discussed changes to the route used by freight trains from Angerstein Wharf (proposing to restore the line to Blackheath). I don’t know what came of it, see page 69 of 77).
  10. The Charlton Champion has included a little video of the crossing in use by a freight train with a shiny red engine and umpteen wagons in today’s post, referencing local displeasure at the planned closure.
  11. I’ve put some signs up, joining signs from at least two other people – so hopefully people will be a bit more aware of this. I spent over an hour there today and counted 25 people using the crossing in just over an hour and plenty more continued to use it after I stopped counting / timing. It is in constant, regular, sporadic use throughout the day. About half of the people I spoke to had been unaware it was due to close permanently.

Geoff Marshall’s video of the crossing published in March 2019 already has nearly 700 comments

Background

There’s a short line of track that runs from Angerstein Wharf near the river to Angerstein Junction on the Southeastern rail network (North Kent line) which carries freight trains to and fro, around twice a day. Between Farmdale Road (near Westcombe Park rail station) and Fairthorn road there’s a foot crossing which is used by residents to carry themselves to and fro. It’s likely that it’s going to close at 8am on Sat 13 April 2019.

Network Rail is planning some track and signaling improvements and must close the crossing during the works but seems to be intending to close it permanently. Once works are completed it seems that freight trains, which must wait before it’s safe to join the North Kent line, will be waiting further back from where they currently stop which means that wagons will be stationary over the crossing and blocking it. I suppose idiots might be tempted to crawl underneath instead of waiting (can be tens of minutes).

Other posts about Angerstein Crossing
Angerstein level crossing, one of two in Greenwich (24 July 2017) – this blog
Angerstein Level Crossing (31 August 2015) Know Your London
Angerstein adventure: Take a very rare Greenwich rail trip (31 August 2014) 853 blog
Angerstein railway (28 October 2013) The Greenwich Phantom
The Angerstein Railway (published 30 July 2013 but written in 1998) Greenwich Peninsula History

Statement from Network Rail (11 April 2019)
(subsequently edited thanks to a follow-up email from Network Rail – additions in pink, deletions in red)

A Network Rail spokesperson said:

“We would like to apologise for the lack of meaningful engagement with local people around the proposed closure of Angerstein footpath crossing and have decided to stop the closure process until a review has taken place.

“We planned to close the crossing, near Westcombe Park station, as part of £55m project to upgrade signalling and track on the lines from Deptford to Woolwich Arsenal and Lewisham to Falconwood, and increase the freight capacity at Angerstein Wharf from six to twenty trains a day.

“The significant increase in freight traffic and the fact trains will now straddle the crossing when stopped at red signals, presents a very real risk to the public, which we take very seriously.

“The crossing will be blocked while our engineers are working on the line over the Easter weekend, however, it will not close permanently at this point.

“We will provide a further update on long term plans, as soon as a review has taken place”.

 

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Angerstein level crossing, one of two in Greenwich

Edit: April 2019 – the crossing has been under threat of permanent closure but that threat has receded pending review. I’ve got a more recent post which has a link to a petition (see latest update), a form to sign up to hear more and links to other local blog posts from The Charlton Champion and From The Murky Depths.


Yesterday I discovered that there is a second level crossing within walking distance from my home. To be honest I’d been dining out on the news of the Charlton Lane crossing for a few years (very pretty brick pattern on the tunnel, level crossings a reasonably rare thing in London) after I discovered it while ambling around Maryon Park. But now I have two of them! This one is much smaller and is only used by pedestrians, and the track itself is only used by freight trains carrying ‘stuff’ from around the UK to Angerstein Wharf.

Yesterday’s discovery was an online one, after I was looking up John Julius Angerstein who created the gardens at Mycenae House. I recognised his name from wandering around Angerstein Wharf (well as near as I can get to it without being chased by wild dogs) and the internet told me about this crossing, just by Westcombe Park station. Angerstein’s grandson developed the railway and the crossing was included for workers to get across the line.

I had the day off today and went to visit it. Predictably I arrived just too late to see a long freight train disappearing into the wharf, which was a shame but I enjoyed meeting the crossing nonetheless. The line is very infrequently used as far as I’m aware (trains run several times a week rather than a day), though not by people – I met several while lurking there photographing it (pics below).

Map of Angerstein Crossing from Google maps.

When I lived in Camberwell I was close to Denmark Hill rail station and I loved being woken in the middle of the night by the rumbling of freight trains passing through, reminding me that I was safe and warm in bed while life was going on around me. It made the house vibrate.

Pleasingly it’s the exact same trains that pass through Denmark Hill that also arrive in Angerstein Wharf. They come from (or go to) Bardon Hill quarry in Leicestershire and they do this in a remarkably circuitous route which you can see examples of here (Bardon to Angerstein) and here (Angerstein to Bardon).

Other posts about Angerstein Crossing
Angerstein Level Crossing (31 August 2015) Know Your London
Angerstein adventure: Take a very rare Greenwich rail trip (31 August 2014) 853 blog
Angerstein railway (28 October 2013) The Greenwich Phantom
The Angerstein Railway (published 30 July 2013 but written in 1998) Greenwich Peninsula History

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1. Westcombe Park side of the Angerstein Crossing

IMG_4725.JPG2. Westcombe Park side looking left towards Angerstein Wharf where you can see the train I just missed.

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3. Westcombe Park side looking to the right towards Charlton station

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4. The crossing itself, taken from the side of Westcombe Park

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5. The opposite side of the crossing, from the Fairthorn Road entrance

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6. The rather lovely entrance to the crossing from Fairthorn Road, directly opposite Gurdon Road.