Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Willesden Junction station: a commentary

This interchange has just opened at Elmers End, south London.

Can't we aim for something of this quality at Willesden Junction?

"Willesden Junction, the hub of London Overground’s network north of the Thames and a major station on the Bakerloo Line, is a vital part of North-West London's transport network.

The station handles nearly five million passengers annually, starting and finishing their journeys there, as well as several more million who change trains without exiting the station.

(There is 87 years between the two photographs of Station Approach. Click on them for details or enlargement.)

TfL Rail’s multi-million pound investment in station facilities within the barriers, together with new and longer trains for London Overground are welcome developments, but have not been matched by any improvement to the approach to the station from Old Oak Lane/Station Road.

As the gateway to Harlesden and Park Royal, this gives a very poor impression of the area, and the station approach road is in shocking condition, creating a hazard for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles (including the four London bus routes which terminate there). Lack of maintenance has resulted in the block-paved roadway surface breaking up, whilst the south side of the footway has been closed for many months.

The north side footway is narrow, floods regularly, and is bounded by guard-rails which, although intended as a safety measure, have the opposite effect, forcing pedestrians into the roadway. The speed humps, which are also intended as a safety measure, are potentially lethal to cyclists, being constructed of cobbles, with a narrow gap in the centre of the carriageway, which forces anyone riding a bike into the middle of the road, causing conflict with traffic in both directions. It is clear that Network Rail who are responsible for this section of the station approach is failing in its duty of care to users of the station.

Despite many promises over the past ten years, and several phases of improvements to ticket offices, lift access to platforms, new staircases and walkways within the station, no improvements have been made to Station Approach.

Between 2002-2007, I was responsible for public transport in the London Borough of Brent, and despite many attempts, we failed to persuade Railtrack/Network Rail to carry out any improvements, other than litter removal, following a threat of action under public health legislation. When the North Orbital Rail Partnership (NORP) was formed in 2005, Brent was appointed by TfL as lead borough, and it was hoped that this would offer a co-ordinated approach to solve the problem.

Despite a detailed specification for improvements being drawn up in 2006, Willesden Junction missed out on TfL’s station access scheme funding, though other stations in Brent were successful. NORP is now being disbanded, so pressure will need to be exerted by user groups including London Travelwatch, the three local councils (Brent, Ealing and Hammersmith & Fulham all border the site) and individual politicians, to make sure that the disgraceful condition of the station approach is rectified as soon as possible.

As a regular commuter through Willesden Junction and member of the London Overground Passenger Group, I have raised the need for action regularly. The September meeting of the group was informed that London Overground had been in discussion with Network Rail, which had agreed that the approach road and bus turning circle will be repaired "within the next few months". Network Rail will undertake embankment stabilization works on the south side of the station, adjacent to the main line. This is the reason why the footpath on the southern side of the approach from Old Oak Lane has been cordoned off for many months now."

Link to a page of Willesden Junction Station documents, here. 

There is also an extract from the Mayor's adopted 'Park Royal Planning Framework' here

1 comment:

  1. I notice at Elmers End there are no speed bumps. I think the ones at Willesden Junction can be done away with, in any revamp.


The promised videos...

Cycling on Western Avenue

North Circular Road incident

Stonebridge rail workers

ROAD SAFETY in West London