Footbridge On-Track or Off the Rails?
Drawing of the planned footbridge taken from the Design Access Statement.
Planning Ref: 00248/D/P62
It is now a year since the Planning Committee once more* approved an application for the footbridge linking the Chiswick Business Park to Chiswick Park station (10 December 2015).
Despite the recognised urgent need for this footbridge now that occupation of Building 7 (capacity 2500-3000) is underway, the Legal Agreement needed to allow work to begin had still not been signed.
The September 2016 track possession slot offered by Network Rail has been lost and a completion date for the footbridge during 2017 is looking unlikely (January 2017 was proposed in December 2015).
This serious delay in providing the footbridge, despite the recognition that it is an essential piece of infrastructure, confirms the misgivings and concerns the Society expressed, when our request for phased occupation of Building 7 to be tied to the delivery of the bridge was refused.
Our comments, published in the Addendum to the Planning Officer Report presented at the December 2015 meeting of the Planning Committee, included:
“WCGS understands the need to expedite this application in order that the developer can take advantage of the September 2016 track possession slot offered by Network Rail. We do not intend therefore to raise any objection at this stage. However we do wish to record our misgivings with respect to timely delivery of the footbridge and our grave concerns as to the overcrowding at Gunnersbury Station.
These concerns are shared by GSAT (Gunnersbury Station Action Team) attendees from tenant companies at CBP. The need for TfL to introduce additional station management because “there would be likely to be increased inconvenience and additional delays to passengers accessing the station due to increased passenger numbers” demonstrates the seriousness of the situation at the station.”
Overcrowding within the station is being managed by extra TfL staff.
For those travelling from Gunnersbury station during the morning peak, such management now results in being denied access to the platform for longer interval.
As peak period trains arrive, TfL staff clear the platform by controlling the stairs as one-way for exiting passengers, holding passengers wishing to access the platform in a queue at the single “in” gate, until staff consider it safe for them to descend the stairs against the flow.
When a second train arrives before the island platform is cleared, the wait can be for several minutes leading to significant delays if a train is missed.
To access this gate passengers entering from the Chiswick High Road have to walk through the ticket hall and along part of the footbridge from the Grange Road/Wellesley Road entrance.
This situation is extremely unpleasant for all concerned – those struggling in the crush to leave the platform, those being delayed from accessing the platform and the unfortunate TfL staff on the front line having to cope with all this stress and frustration.
Hardly an Enjoy-Work kind of start to the day!
Also as we have emphasised, TfL staff only manage overcrowding within the station.
The situation with respect to crossing the Chiswick High Road is of real concern.
Leaving the station in the morning peak, some of the crowd join the queue for west-bound buses. Others, the majority, head across the road and sadly do not always wait for the lights to change.
It was reported at GSAT in July that TfL had agreed to install a countdown indicator at the main pedestrian crossing outside Gunnersbury Station to improve control of the crowds crossing to and from the business park. This is apparently still held up by linkage to the unresolved issues between TfL and park management concerning bus stops for the No 27 bus.
These stops are needed to make the service more useful for workers at the Chiswick High Road of the business park as well as for local people.
*The need for the footbridge was recognised as early as 2001 and planning permissions have been granted in 2007, 2012 and 2015.