Bridge to Nowhere opens and offers a Stairway to Heaven

It is seven days now since the £22 million bridge at the north end of the platforms at East Croydon station was opened, at least partially.

The video from engineers BAM Nuttall is a terrific view of the impressive work carried out over the Christmas holiday to move the vast structure into place over the London to Brighton railway line, using a piece of kit which looks like it came straight out of Thunderbird 2, as if it owes much to the imagination of Gerry Anderson, the sci-fi film maker who died recently.

Now it is in place, it is clear that it has been built to similar standards to the new bridge recently opened at Clapham Junction, and will ultimately offer stair-free access to the station platforms that avoid the long and sometimes difficult slopes at the original station entrance.

But there remain snags.

East Croydon's stairway to heaven... you better not be in a hurry if you need to get up and down a set of these stairs for a train

East Croydon’s stairway to heaven… better not be in a hurry to get up and down a set of these stairs for a train

The entire edifice is designed, ultimately, to offer a second entrance to the station from the Addiscombe side of the tracks and from Dingwall Road. But as long as Menta refuse permission to build on the site of their proposed Mental Tower development, the eastern entrance will be compromised with a “temporary” walkway round the side of the existing taxi rank (background to this story can be found here).

Croydon Council has never satisfactorily explained why extra millions of public money had to be spent on this temporary walkway, rather than enforce a properly drafted, legally watertight Section 106 planning agreement with the developers at Menta.

So that leaves us with a bridge that doesn’t lead to anywhere, and in the meantime the western exit/entrance is yet to be completed.

Work on completing the bridge continues. The old underpasses (which are suitable for the disabled and elderly and use ramps, not stairs) at the northern end of the platforms have to be closed whenever engineering work is being conducted to build the lifts to the bridge.

This means that for the time being, anyone in a wheelchair or who is not fully ambulant may only transfer between the platforms by going back, all the way up the steep ramps to the original station entrance and back down on to the required platform.

Indeed, if you look up the steep staircase to the new bridge, it offers the sort of climb that might have been a challenge to Sherpa Tensing in his prime.

Oh, how we have laughed as we have watched several passengers, some carrying their luggage after a flight back from Gatwick, all the way to the top of the stairs, paused, looked along the new bridge, and then realised that there is no available exit, before doing a U-turn to come back all the way down the staircase to make their way out of the station at the southern end. Because there is no proper signage at platform level to explain that the bridge, for now, only links between other platforms.

We’re sure it’ll be really wonderful when it’s all finished.

It’s just odd to be spending so much public cash at a time of austerity and cuts, while the developers on either side of the railway lines are contributing nothing to the cost of the bridge which enhances their land values and development considerably. Makes you wonder whether Croydon Council, Boris Johnson and Network Rail are spending the money on behalf of the passengers, or the developers. We’re all in this together, after all…

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2 Responses to Bridge to Nowhere opens and offers a Stairway to Heaven

  1. ndavies144 says:

    Southern, part of the (presumably unironically named Go-Ahead Group) operate the station rather than Network Rail and are responsible for signs and whathaveyou.

    If everyone complains long and hard enough they might just get their crayons out and direct those wishing to exit the station in the right direction.

  2. Anne Giles says:

    Oh dear. I have a disability and am unable to go up or down steps.

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