Network Rail want to make the earth move for commuters.
Or, at least, they want to move East Croydon Station.
The railway infrastructure body this week released the latest version of its plans for what they call the Croydon Area Remodelling Scheme – or CARS. These include some impressive engineering proposals to unblock the bottleneck on the Brighton mainline at the Selhurst Triangle.
But what the revised proposals also reveal is not just an “expansion” of East Croydon Station, but its complete rebuilding, moving the main concourse 100metres north of where the current station is positioned on George Street.
The proposals show a modern railway station, recognisably similar to London Bridge or Blackfriars, which have both undergone multi-million-pound rebuilds over the last decade or so.
With the railway through Croydon being the busiest and most congested in Britain, with 1,700 trains and 300,000 passengers travelling through it on a normal, pre-covid weekday, Network Rail have taken the far-sighted decision to start all over again, as they seek to add two additional platforms to the station.
By moving the station north – roughly starting from where the Bridge To Nowhere stands today – they will be able to widen the station on to land to the east (the light industrial buildings, marked as a Volkswagen building), which they bought just over a year ago for the purpose.
Gone would be the slippery-when-wet, too-steep ramps to the platforms, to be replaced with better accessibility through stairways, escalators and lifts.
“Accessibility at the station is limited as the existing access ramps are steep and congested, the small concourse regularly becomes overcrowded and passenger facilities are limited,” Network Rail note.
“We propose to reconstruct East Croydon station in phases, while trains continue to run, increasing the number of platforms from six to eight, four to serve northbound services and four to serve southbound services.
“Since the first consultation, our design development has identified that it is not possible to just add two additional platforms into the tight railway corridor, which is constrained by high-rise buildings on both sides. Instead it is proposed that the redeveloped station will move north by approximately 100metres and be fully reconstructed.”
Network Rail states that “the recently constructed footbridge”, meaning the Bridge to Nowhere, built just seven years ago at a cost of £22million and never yet finished and connected to the Cherry Orchard Road side of the station, “will be retained and repurposed to form the new gateline into the station”.
The consultation document states, “Access to this main entrance would be available from the tram and bus stations, from Caithness Walk and from Cherry Orchard Road. A new northern concourse with an improved entrance will be created, accessible from Lansdowne Road.”
According to a Network Rail spokesperson today, “The current station concourse which is constructed on George Street Bridge would be transformed into an open public area to create more space to interchange with the trams.” Much of the area would be given over to an expanded “grab and go” retail area, for coffee shops, fast food and newsagents (the buildings in blue on the image at the top of this page).
But here’s the crunch: the whole scheme is as yet unfunded.
The other crunch is that it might all take until 2033 to be completed – and that’s without major spanners in the works, such as coronavirus.
“We are in the process of submitting an outline business case to the Department for Transport, making the case for the scheme and setting out the anticipated costs and benefits,” the spokesperson said.
“The scheme’s business case, along with an associated funding request to continue developing the scheme, will be assessed by government over the remainder of 2020, before a decision is made on how to proceed.
“We have developed the schemed so that the benefits will be delivered in tranches from 2028 onwards, rather than having to wait until the end.
“In terms of timescales – we are aiming to submit the Transport and Works Act Order to the Secretary of State in 2021 to seek powers to progress with the scheme.
“There is likely to be a public inquiry given the scale of the scheme but we would hope for a decision in 2023 so we can commence works in 2024. Indicative completion of the whole scheme is circa 2033.”
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