If you travel via Denmark Hill station at peak times, especially in the morning, you can’t have failed to notice it frequently gets overcrowded—often dangerously so. Commuter numbers have increased significantly, and the limited number of ticket barriers don’t always allow a steady flow in or out, especially when three busloads of people turn up at once, or one (or more) barrier is out of order—when both happened recently there was a huge number of people trying to get in, which led to a crowd spilling out into the road outside.
Exacerbating this, the newly-built walkway is a quite long walk from the platforms so people tend to use the older wooden stairs, and when trains arrive and depart on platforms 2 and 3 simultaneously the queues up those stairs can become very long and cramped.
Unfortunately, the situation doesn’t seem set to improve in the short term. Councillor Kieron Williams has been very active in talking to GTR (the station operators) and Network Rail about changes to the station, with one option being a second entrance to the station on Windsor Walk, making better use of the walkway and the full length of the platforms. He tweeted today a response from GTR (quoted below) which acknowledges the situation and the proposal, but makes clear the cost involved is likely to be significant and, even if funds were made available, the earliest it could be would likely be April 2019—and who knows how long construction would take after that?
On the positive side, it’s good that the need has been identified. This is the response from GTR:
GTR and Network Rail have noted the significant increase in passenger footfall at Denmark Hill and the pressures that this then causes on the station infrastructure particularly around peak travelling times.
Network Rail have conducted an assessment on the station capacity including detailed pedestrian modelling with a number of interventions both physical and operational. A possible second entrance was considered as part of the assessment, however it is noted that this solution requires significant capital investment in order to deliver.
The station is considered a priority for investment to improve station capacity as and when funds become available to achieve this (typically this is governed through the 5 yearly railway funding periods). The next railway period (CP6) will commence from April 2019.
In order to support this intervention GTR has sought funding through the National Stations Improvement Programme to assess the feasibility of a second entrance with the support of Network Rail’s specialist engineers. A concept proposal has been prepared which considers a second entrance onto Windsor Walk connected via the recently installed footbridge with lifts. This has allowed the industry to understand the magnitude of costs, risks and constructability to inform a future bid for capital investment.
Header image from Caroline Carr on Twitter.