Commuters using one of the country’s busiest rail stations were this morning confronted by the closure of the Bridge to Nowhere (© Inside Croydon) for a second consecutive day because it was … too dangerous for people to walk on.
With a multitude of delays and cancellations due to the snow, and rail services from Brighton to Gatwick badly affected because of a monster eight-foot icicle in the Balcombe Tunnel, any passengers wanting to change platforms in search of a train that might get them to their chosen destination were forced to schlep up the ramp to the main station concourse and back again, hoping that they did not miss their connection.
“It was carnage on platforms 3 and 4 this morning,” one angry commuter told Inside Croydon. “Even just when it rains, the bridge is slippier than an eel when wet, and the station management have closed it off yesterday and this morning.
“What idiot commissioned such an unusable footbridge?”
It is all a bit crap, for the major transport hub that is supposed to be the gateway for most visitors to Croydon.
Station management had hastily taped and barriered off access from the platforms up the bridge’s steep stairways this morning. Presumably, they lacked the staff to sweep or mop the walking surfaces to ensure that they are safe to use. Maybe the staff had trouble getting to work by public transport…
Sweeping and mopping the bridge deck is a task which station management frequently has to undertake. The bridge was designed to be open to the elements, so when there is even a moderate wind, then rain, sleet and snow can be blown in under the bridge’s roof. The choice of flooring provides pedestrians with little traction when wet.
There were also public safety issues on the concourse outside East Croydon Station yesterday, when the council cabinet member, Stuart King, intervened with the station operators to encourage them to clear the ice and slush on the recently relaid, and also very slippery, tiling around the George Street station entrance. Pavements by bus stops on the opposite side of George Street, the responsibility of the council, also appeared rutted with ice and ungritted.
The £22million Bridge to Nowhere was paid for by Network Rail, Transport for London and Croydon Council, the same dream team of public authorities which will be working so closely on the resolution of the “Croydon bottleneck” and East Croydon station expansion.
The bridge, which was granted planning permission in 2011, has never been fully completed.
Readily accessible underpasses, which offered access between platforms, were filled in to facilitate the bridge “improvements”.
But while the bridge provides access to Dingwall Road, the exit to Cherry Orchard Road on the other side of the tracks remains closed, nearly six years since engineering work was mostly completed. The bridge is supposed to provide a link between Addiscombe and the town centre and it might, if we are very lucky, finally perform fully its intended function by 2024 – more than a decade late.
Yet even then, it might still be too dangerous for commuters to walk on the bridge in the wet…
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One of the reasons given by Southern for filling in the platform to platform ramps under the tracks, and replacing them with the monster bridge, was that the ramps are ” slippery and dangerous”.
A ridiculous statement, as it turns out, as the bridge which has turned out to be far more dangerous, and also, far slower to transit than were the old ramps, the reason being that the new bridge has been designed much higher, to accommodate future overhead power wires should Southern eventually scrap the live rail. The ramps just had to get below the track beds.
We might be stuck with this inferior bridge, although maybe they could add screens to deflect rain.
Glassing in the sides would result in birds flying in to the glass, so that would not work.
One totally useless thing that could be improved is the illuminated signage that informs passengers (to some degree) about the services on each platform. These comprise of lamentably tiny TV screens and undersized dot matrix departures screens on the bridge and platforms. These are all far smaller than the old signs they replaced that dated from the Network South East days (which veteran commuters will recall as being red painted and large) .
Transport signage in public places must be clear and easy to read– it is not an art form, it is to provide clear information, in large lettering, and should be easy to read for people with and without visual impairment, not by Superheroes.
I really think that the designers and decision makers need to be forcibly brought to site and asked to read the current signage, and asked why the typeface is so small as to be illegible when viewed from more than a few metres away, and asked why there are only two TV screens showing arrivals, rather than the three that are necessary ( so the arrival info. “screen” is constantly disappearing and scrolls to the next “screen” before the reader has been able to see it properly) . Also, Victoria trains should be badged up as “all stations to Victoria” on the small display TV screens if they are not the quick ones that stop at Clapham Junction only, which also should be clearly shown as such.
Here is a nice clear message to Southern….
The signage is too small, and not fit for purpose.
Time for Southern to look at this–and involve passengers with and without superhero vision.
I saw stuff about it being so high to accommodate overhead electrification too. Very difficult to believe considering they’d have to rebuild the bridge under George St, and the main concourse, and every other bridge on the line, not forgetting reboring three lengthy tunnels. Surely replacing a tin bridge done on the cheap (well it wasn’t but no doubt the contractors saw them coming) in the first place would be below the noise level in the budget for such a project. Oh and surely you’re joking about birds flying into glassed-in sides?
Not joking at all, as birds fly into patio doors (hence bird lovers put silhouettes of birds of prey on the glass to put the smaller birds off) . Glassed in sides on the bridge would be similar.
Perhaps the RSPB have a view on this ?
Whilst every bridge would be need to be rebuilt to a higher clearance, I think you will find that this is a policy, albeit with a long-term delivery.
It is interesting to note that the Response to the East Croydon Masterplan ‘Consultation’ contained the following:-
Comment: ‘Need for improved signage.’
Response: ‘Parameter added specifying need for improved signage within the station concourse.’
Comments: ‘Shelter should be provided on the southern walkway.’ ‘Suggest bridge is enclosed.’
Response: ‘The southern walkway …. a public route .. is open to the sky.’
I seem to remember that an early problem was rain getting into the ticket machines on the bridge due to the open area.
Comment: ‘Outside steps from Ruskin Walk to Ruskin Square not protected from rain/ice/leaf fall.’
Response: ‘Design of steps to ensure safety in all weather conditions.’
Were they, and didn’t the same apply to steps inside the railway concourse ?
A Consultation response regarding the bridge also said ‘These steps (inside and outside) appear to have no cover, and are therefore open to the elements – rain and strong winds (sometimes dangerously strong around tall buildings !) Also icy and wet with leaf-fall in autumn.’
But like most public consultations, this consideration and others regarding the proposed bridge and steps. were ignored.