'Significant' Delays Call Into Question Delivery of Local Crossrail Services
Lack of activity at West Ealing site raises concerns about station
Concerns about possible delay and overcrowding at some stations on the Crossrail route are growing after residents’ questions about lack of construction activity failed to be properly answered.
Dr Ben Sherliker has been monitoring activity at the West Ealing station site and says that construction work has not begun. He understands that this is also the situation at Southall and there appears to be no timetable for the works. He asked local Councillors and MPs to intervene with Network Rail but they have yet to confirm when work on the station will begin.
The central and eastern section of Crossrail, which will be known as the Elizabeth Line in Central London is due to be opened in December 2018. TfL Rail is due to take over the Paddington to Heathrow link in May 2018 which will mean that local stations should be served by the new 200m long Elizabeth Line trains which can carry up to 1500 passengers each. When the central section of Crossrail/Elizabeth Line opens this means you will be able to travel from stations in Ealing on one of the new Elizabeth line trains and change at Paddington for a fast train across London using the new tunnels. It is thought likely at this point there will be a marked increase in passengers using local stations.
It is envisaged that the western section of the line that would serve local stations including Ealing Broadway would be fully integrated with the central tunnelled section of the network by December 2019. However, Network Rail have told Dr. Sherliker that work at West Ealing station has been ‘significantly delayed’ and is now due to be finished just as the integration of the western section is completed. The delays are understood to be affecting other stations including Ealing Broadway.
Dr Sherliker believes that there is a significant risk of overcrowding at local stations before the Crossrail/Elizabeth Line service is fully linked up as the advent of the central section in December 2018 will bring significantly increased passenger numbers and the station upgrade work will not be completed. He is also concerned that this will not leave time for Ealing Council to complete complimentary works outside the stations to deal with the increased footfall. Dr Sherliker also claims that the promise that the local stations will have step free access may also be reneged on.
Artist's impression of planned West Ealing Station
West Ealing station is expected to see a 70% increase in passenger numbers from December 2019 when the journey time to Bond Street will be 13 minutes yet currently it has only a single entrance and exit and no lift at the station. The area around the station is also likely to be prone to congestion unless public realm works are undertaken and Ealing Council say they cannot commence these until the work at the station is finished.
There are concerns locally that West Ealing and probably Ealing Broadway station works have stopped as the stations are being put out for redesign and re-tender and this indicates that significant budget issues have arisen and Network Rail may be have to consider reducing provision of services at some stations to prevent overcrowding at peak times.
Councillor Julian Bell said, leader of Ealing Council said, “All of these stations (Southall, Hanwell, West Ealing, Ealing Broadway and Acton Mainline) are now seriously delayed and none will be complete when the first trains start running in May 2018. New station buildings were considered necessary because of the increase in passenger numbers that Crossrail will bring and I have serious concerns about public safety when the Elizabeth Line service starts.
“Despite demanding a new work programme from Crossrail and Network Rail, their official position remains a mystery to us as neither will confirm what the cause of the delay is, what is being done to rectify the issues and when work will start. In the meantime, we are left with old station buildings that will not be able to cope with the increased footfall."
The Council say they are also waiting to spend the Crossrail Complementary Funding they have been granted by TfL. This money has been allocated to ensure that the gateway to Crossrail stations is safe and welcoming but they are limited in the work they can do before work on the stations is finished. TfL have said that the deadline for spending the money runs out at the end of the 2018/19 financial year regardless and cannot be extended.
Councillor Bell said, "I am furious that a delay that is none of our making is going to mean that we could miss out on vital funding.
“In addition, we have also learned that the three stations due to have new buildings will not have the old station building removed as part of the process. It’s likely that they will be simply boarded up by Network Rail and left to fall into disrepair. These old buildings are going to require a significant level of maintenance to stop them for becoming a liability to the public walking past and to the railway line, but Network Rail is refusing to take any responsibility and contribute towards the cost of maintaining or removing them.
“We are now raising these issues at the highest level within both Crossrail and Network Rail. My residents deserve some answers and we will be doing everything we can to communicate our very real concern about the effects of these continuous delays and to get some clarity on exactly what is going on with this very shabby state of affairs.”
Cllr Greg Stafford, Opposition Leader said, “The Leader of Ealing Council is claiming to be 'furious' and seeking clarity on the 'very shabby state of affairs' regarding the Crossrail station delays.
The Crossrail team at Network Rail say that the platform extensions at West Ealing are continuing and by December this year they will have completed all of the rail infrastructure needed to support the testing of the new Elizabeth line trains in advance of their introduction into service next May. At that time the current Heathrow Connect service (2 per hour) will be replaced by 4 TfL Rail services an hour, essentially doubling the frequency of the stopping service to Heathrow, as well as doubling the length of the trains.
July 4, 2017