Transport correspondent JEREMY CLACKSON on an announcement coming next week which really could help to transform Croydon
Network Rail is about to announce government funding for the design and consultation work to provide extra platforms at an expanded East Croydon Station and to build “flyover junctions” north of the station to remove what is known as “the Croydon bottleneck” on rail services between London, Gatwick and Brighton.
The funding announcement, expected early next week, is, at this stage, just for the preliminary work, rather than for the major engineering which will be required. But it is expected to lead to an enabling Act of Parliament for the works to be passed at Westminster by the end of 2019.
This funding has come on top of the £300million engineering investment agreed last year for works on the Brighton mainline.
Croydon has always been a transport hub, and the East Croydon rail link remains the town’s main economic calling card. So next week’s announcement could prove more significant than any stuttering prospect of a shopping mall.
Inside Croydon has seen an internal memo from Network Rail which confirms that long-held plans are about to be put into action.
Network Rail suggests that the Croydon scheme “would, if built, transform railway performance for the 300,000 passengers who travel on the Brighton mainline each day”.
Potentially, it could allow more trains to run between London, Gatwick Airport and the Sussex coast.
Work has already started to use the £300million government funding on the Brighton mainline to improve the resilience of infrastructure on key routes, including the replacement of a junction near Redhill, which starts tomorrow and continues for the next two weekends, and a track upgrade in the Gatwick area over the May bank holiday.
But Croydon is the central element of the Brighton mainline upgrade programme.
The “Croydon bottleneck” is just outside East Croydon Station, to the north, where several routes to and from central London converge. Network Rail proposes the construction of a series of new grade-separated junctions, which would act like motorway flyovers and will replace the existing flat junctions, where trains have to wait at red signals to allow others to pass in front.
East Croydon Station would be expanded from six platforms to eight – there is some land to the west of the station which the owners of the Ruskin Square development have agreed to release – and there is also the promise of new concourse areas with better access to the platforms and surrounding areas. Presumably, Network Rail’s lawyers are working night-and-day on coming up with agreements with property speculators and developes, the likes of Menta, to ensure they provide full and proper access to the Bridge to Nowhere, or any other similar projects.
The Network Rail memo says, “This would improve the train service, transform the station itself and contribute to the ongoing redevelopment of Croydon town centre and the growing local economy.”
Network Rail will now begin to work up detailed designs for the track and station work and carry out a full public consultation.
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