Solution to Denmark Hill overcrowding may come, but not soon

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.

A safer Camberwell Green; Camberwell Station; and Camberwell Yards

Before I get started with the latest news round up, a quick word of apology for some misinformation in my previous post. I read about the proposed Camberwell Yards temporary development (more on that later) and saw it described as ‘box park’, which I (mis-)understood to be the actual Boxpark rather than a similar concept. To be clear: Camberwell Yards is a box park rather than the Boxpark. I corrected my post shortly after publication, but some people had already read it and reacted to it before my correction was made. For that, I’m sorry. And from now on, I’ll be referring to it as a container village.

Now, on with the news.

Safer Camberwell Green

This week TfL opened a new public consultation on their proposed changes to Camberwell Green, aimed at making it safer after it was named as one of 73 junctions in London with unacceptable collision records. You can see the main proposals in the images below, or download a PDF for higher resolution.

Many of the proposed changes involve widening pavements—especially welcome for bus stop L outside London Food & Wine on Church Street—and pedestrian crossings. The traffic islands to the north, east, and south of the Green junction will be slightly shifted and expanded to accommodate the new wider crossings.

More substantial changes include the traffic lights at the junction of Church Street with Grove Lane / Artichoke Place, which will be removed and replaced with a signal crossing some 15m west, nearer Sophocles. The signal crossing at the junction of Denmark Hill and Orpheus Street will be moved north, nearer to Butterfly Walk (this was originally announced a few years ago).

There will be a new signal crossing on Camberwell Road, from the mouth of Camberwell Passage to the Green. This will involve moving bus stop E 35m to the north.

The bus stop on the corner of Vicarage Grove and Church Street will also be moved some 9m west, sort of opposite Lumberjack, to make it safer to turn left—especially for cyclists.

Cyclists will also benefit from changes to the Green junction, with early release lights and 5m advanced stop lines (which I can tell you from experience are barely obeyed by a not unsubstantial proportion of motorists). There will also be two-stage right turns for cyclists turning right onto Denmark Hill or Camberwell Road.

Finally, there will be a new cycle lane on Church Street heading west across the Green junction.

Map of proposed changes to Camberwell New Road
Camberwell New Road and west of Camberwell Green
Map of proposed changes to Camberwell Church Street
Camberwell Church Street and east of Camberwell Green
Map of proposed changes to Camberwell Road
Camberwell Road and lower Denmark Hill
Map of proposed changes to Camberwell Green junction
Camberwell Green junction

I think these are pretty decent proposals, but I look forward to hearing what everyone else thinks—and hope that if you have strong feelings about any of the changes, you let TfL know before 3rd September.

Camberwell Station

Southwark News have reported that the report into the proposed reopening of Camberwell Station has been pushed back by a few months, with a TfL spokesperson saying of a meeting between Network Rail, TfL, LB Southwark:

They’ve decided it needs a bit of extra work. It was a consensus of opinion between the three at the meeting. It will take a couple of months. Then it will need signing off again.

An article in a recent issue of Future Rail magazine, The Fight For Camberwell, has some interesting background on the reopening campaign, not least that Denmark Hill station saw some seven million passenger journeys in 2015–16—almost double the number from 2010-11.

Camberwell Yards

Southwark News also have a little more information on Camberwell Yards, the container village proposed for the small car park / loading bay behind Morrisons.

The reaction I’ve seen on Facebook & Twitter has been mixed, with many against it on principle because “it’s gentrification”. Which, to me, isn’t much of an argument because we don’t have any idea yet of what’s going to go in it, and the idea that ‘container village = gentrification’ smacks of dogma.

As an idea of what it could do for the area, the new Peckham Levels—set to open in the former car park above the cinema on Rye Lane this October—will host 70 businesses / organisations, of which 75% are from Peckham itself, and a further 10% from across Southwark. One of those businesses is our own Nandine, the Kurdish cafe on Vestry Road.

If the (much smaller) Camberwell Yards also supports local businesses in that way, I wouldn’t be against it at all.

 

News Roundup: Things to See and Do

Time slipped away from me before I could promote this year’s Camberwell Free Film Festival. It’s halfway through already, but you can still see some great films between now and Monday.

The Southwark Community Action Network are organising a petition in support of reopening Camberwell station. If you want to help, you can print a copy and pass it round your local networks for signing.

Camberwell Arts are running another Open Studios event, on the weekend of 16th-18th June. If you’re an artist, maker or creative with a studio in the area, and want to take part, the deadline for applications has been extended to 10th April.

Camberwell Fair is back this year, and back on the Green after taking place in Burgess Park in 2016. It’s going to be a two-day event, on 22nd and 23rd of July. If you want to be involved in the organisation you can get in touch with them now; official applications for stallholders and performers will follow soon.

Finally, local coffee roasters and social enterprise, Old Spike, opened their new café, bar, and roastery, Spike+Earl, last weekend. It’s in the old Town Hall on Peckham Road and was such a success on the first day that they ran out of food for the weekend. A great spot to get some afternoon sun.

Rail news: Denmark Hill & Camberwell

Network Rail have released a new set of reports related to their long-term planning process, which looks at the UK’s rail network over the years to come. There are a few interesting details in there related to Denmark Hill and the mooted Camberwell station.

First of all it’s notable that Denmark Hill has been marked as one of the stations with highest priority for funds to relieve overcrowding—anyone who uses the station at rush hour will know this is badly needed.

The main issues identified are congestion on the platforms, stairs and interchange footbridge, and at station entrance / exit gatelines, both in the morning and evening peaks.

Some of the ways they’re looking at to ease congestion are by adding additional gates to the existing entrance/exit; building a new entrance onto Windsor Walk; and encouraging better use of the footbridge. This latter point could be done by relocating the station entrance nearer to the footbridge; by lengthening the platforms to terminate services closer to the footbridge; or by simply covering the footbridge.

By implementing the proposed interventions, it is anticipated that there will be reduced queuing at the bottom of the platform access staircases and decongestion at the main gate lines, with improved passenger safety and reduced passenger walk times.

Obviously some of those are going to be more practical—that is to say, cost less—than others. Whatever changes are made, they are to be “considered for delivery by 2024”—but hopefully well before that.

As for Camberwell station, the report notes that TfL and Southwark council have made the case for reopening it as an alternative to the Bakerloo extension (which, in case you haven’t heard, will be going down the Old Kent Road instead). TfL are working on a business case, supported by Southwark’s Area Vision development plan.

The report notes that impact on timetables on the rest of the line would have to be considered, as well as requiring an updated capacity study in case of crowding. Also, the existing platforms (what’s left of them) don’t currently support the needed 8-car length, and would need to be capable of possible extension to 12-car length in the future.

TfL’s initial Business Case is expected sometime this year. Meanwhile, Harriet Harman and Helen Hayes have written to transport secretary, Chris Grayling, in support of the project:

The reopening of the station would come as much needed relief to residents of Camberwell, who have suffered from poor transport links for years. The proposal is supported by nearby King’s College Hospital… from whom constraints in local public transport create significant issues in getting staff, patients and visitors to the hospital.

If you want to hear more about the station reopening project, you should head along to the Camberwell Community Council meeting on Thursday, 30th March, 6.30pm, at the Employment Academy on Peckham Road.

News roundup: Camberwell Fair returns, the Green reopens

Quite a lot of the local news now happens on Twitter, and I sometimes forget that readers of this blog who aren’t also there miss out on some things. So I’m starting a semi-regular roundup for all those people, starting with this one.

Monday (4th July) night is the 10th anniversary AGM of the SE5 Forum. There will be food from Love Walk Cafe, music by Camberwell Community Choir, and appearances from the leader of Southwark Council, Cllr. Peter John, and the London Assembly Member for Lambeth and Southwark, Cllr. Florence Eshalomi. It’s at Cambridge House, Camberwell Rd., from 6.30pm.

The owners of the ridiculously popular Frank’s Cafe, in Peckham, are hoping to take over the former Club Couture premises at the foot of Camberwell Grove. There’s a public meeting to discuss the proposal at the Camberwell Arms at 6.30pm on 7th July; I’d imagine the influential Camberwell Society will have something to say.

The Green is set to reopen on 16th July, with a community launch event running from 12pm to 5pm, and an afterparty at the Tiger with DJs from Rat Records.

The relaunch event is being organised by Camberwell Fair, who are also back with their own event, on 20th August, although this year in Burgess Park. The first acts on the music lineup have been announced. If you’re a local business there’s still time to apply for a stall.

TfL are investigating the reopening of Camberwell Station after 52 years inactivity, reporting that “initial work suggests a station is physically feasible”. The station would be on the Thameslink line. Next steps will be to assess the impact on the rail network and any development plans in the area, and with the rebuilding of the station required, this won’t be happening in the next few years.

And finally, the war memorial to the Surrey Rifles brigade, located in front of St. Giles church, has been awarded Grade II listed status.

This was the news.