Monday, 30 June 2014

Burning Your Bridges


The Bridge is dead. Long live the Bridge!

It seems that as one bridge closes another one truly opens. At least at Worcester Park station anyway where the new all singing, all dancing bridge complete with hot and cold running lifts has finally had the ribbon cut and is in full swing doing what bridges do best. I even walked across it just to make sure.
(I've not actually included a picture of it open here - seeing as this image will become rather familiar to most readers from here on. That and the fact that I had too many other pictures to squeeze in...)

Sadly however, at the other end of the platform, there is only a void where the once loved footbridge use to be. You can still see what it looked like here if the need takes you.

A couple of weeks ago short cables were embedded into the ground to to help secure the old bridge while they were removing it. The electrical cables were in the process of being isolated, cut and removed at the same time. The bridge was finally taken down over the weekend and can now be viewed in the station car park, discarded like so much scrap.

I'm sorry to have seen the old bridge go. I still haven't heard a decent explanation for why they couldn't have two bridges coexisting at the station. I don't see that having a choice of where to cross over to the opposite platform can really be that bad of a thing.


Graffiti

Readers will probably also remember the colourful graffiti that infected the new bridge almost as soon as it was put up (shown here). Blog reader Robert had been quick off the mark to contact the Director of Customer Services at South West Trains to draw his attention to the generally poor state of a number of stations in this area, and specifically to the graffiti on the new bridge here. On a positive note he received a speedy reply, some of which is quoted here:
"I have asked the local management team to arrange for the graffiti to be cleaned, which will be done just before the new footbridge is officially opened. They will also review the cleaning schedule at this location to ensure it is improved.
As for the general condition of the painting and station building. We also have a team that will within the next month or so touch up some of the painted areas. However Worcester Park station is on a national review list and could be subject to a complete new station building. This should be decided and act upon within the next 12 months."
It is good to see that as promised the graffiti has been removed. Nice to know we can also look forward to a bit repainting around the place in the next month or so.

What do readers think of the "complete new station building" idea? My initial thought is that the current one is quite adequate and rebuilding such a structure will cost a lot of money that we as fare payers and tax payers are eventually going to be footing the bill for. Plus it will mean a lot of disruption. I'd be interested to hear what you dear reader think though...

Update (10th August)

The lift which was out of order within a month of being first installed is now working again. I know because I have had a ride in both of them to make sure...


44 COMMENTS (Add Yours Now!):

anonymous said...

Is the gate on the 'down' side
always open still? otherwise it might've been a good idea to keep both bridges, as if you're on the train from London and are in the front carriages you'll end up walking the length of both platforms.

Guest D said...

Though I agree with your viewpoint that it could be a waste of money to replace the building, it might be that Railtrack consider the building to have come to the end of of its useful life and the maintenance costs are rising.


If you take this view and only Raitrack have the data, it could be a case of throwing good money after bad not to replace the building.

Duff Paddy said...

Talking about station maintenance and appearances, any news on the bridge overhaul we were promised would happen nearly a year ago?

Steve said...

Fantastic new bridge, as a disabled person in a wheelchair I was able to use my local station for the first time on Sunday! Lifts were working despite South West Trains assisted travel not knowing it! They also failed with assistance onto the train but the lifts worked!! great stuff. It would be a shame to knock down long standing buildings like this as they are part of local history.

Howard said...

It seems ridiculous that to enter the station from the front everyone has to use the new ramp.

Dave said...

The old bridge was rusty and probably beyond repair. Not sure what Howard means as you can still enter the station via the ticket office, the front gate by the bike rack or now the new ramp!

Guest said...

The old bridge may have been superficially rusty, but it worked reliably as a bridge, without being a graffiti magnet.

Let's see how long it takes an "Out of Order" sign to appear on one of the new lifts or new bridge itself, before hailing it as a great leap for mankind.

I still can't see how maintaining a simple footbridge could have worked out more expensive than building and maintaining a more complex one, with the added cost of building and maintaining two integral lifts on top.

John Clare said...

I spoke with the Manager (on site) last Saturday night at 1030PM and asked him why the old bridge was being removed, apparently the bridge did not meet EU Specifications.
Countrywide, I can see bridges all over the country will be dismantled to meet EU standards

Guest said...

Shame they couldn't get the Oyster card readers for the new exit up and running at the same time,,!!!

steve said...

I used the new lift thismorning with my daughter (she is young and steps are not her forte). Worked really well and a lot nicer than the previous incarnation. It should also reduce the bottleneck when people leave the train (from London) as it was a bit of a pile up as people were trying to leave the station and cross the bridge. This will improve the flow particualarly as there are a number of pushchairs trying to leave at the same time (if only they had a new exit as well!).

Alex said...

Well, if the EU says "Jump!", then we jolly well need to obediently 'jump', don't we? [If it's preclusively expensive to replace all non-EU approved bridges countrywide, we can always compensate, by shutting down schools and hospitals].

Perhaps it might please our European masters, if we renamed our town, not after the Earl of Worcester, but after someone more, shall we say, EU appropriate?

Mesdames et messieurs, je vous presente... 'Le parc Napoleon!'

Dave said...

You clearly have never tried leaving the station coming from London with a child in a buggy, or helped anyone in a wheelchair !
It is all about disabled access.

Littlebigman said...

Noticed a dead pigeon caught in the netting on the London bound platform roof this morning. Less than pleasant.

Guest D said...

I doubt that this had very much to do with the EU, more to do with the UK Disability Discrimination Act and BoJo's push for step free access in the TFL area.


Whether the old bridge could be retained or not, is probably down to a whole collection of bureaucratic rules each on its own making sense but put together equals stupidity.

Guest said...

No, Dave, clearly, it's all about flushing money down a station toilet!

Leaving the station from a London train, with a buggy has never been a problem - I've helped others down the stairs and on the odd occasion, been helped myself.

This sense of community co-operation, has served us well since the first buggy alighted from a London, at Worcester Park station - and every time since.

Guest said...

Sounds like a breeding ground for injuries, when there's snow and ice!

Meme said...

The truth is if the funds are available and we do not use them they simply go somewhere else. Prices of tickets will go up anyway, whether or not we get a new station. it is just the way it is. So, I would rather it was us, having new station than somebody else....

Karina said...

Have you also carried an adult in a wheelchair down the stairs at the station?

Guest D said...

That's a very disabilist attitude, your saying that the disabled should be made to rely on the charity of the neighbours rather than having money spent to empower them.


You forget that moves like this end up being self funding as it means a considerable tranche of disabled people will be able to get jobs further afield, thus cutting the benefit bill.

Nichu said...

I'm pleased that wheelchair users finally have the opportunity to use the station. Shame about the old bridge but we'll get used to it. There's always the option of going under the railway bridge for those mourning exiting the station that way.
As for the new station building, I'd be in support of that. The railways have suffered from years of significant underinvestment so it's about time we attempted to improve them.

GG said...

The new bridge appears to be a total waste of money - how much di this thing cost?

The only reason I can think of for removing the old bridge is to prevent the people behind this fiasco looking even more stupid than they do now. Whilst waiting for a train this week I tried it out - immediately I noticed that it was twice the height of the old bridge, therefore twice the number of steps. People wont use it - I noticed they were not during tge evening commute, with the old exit now even more conjested. They coukd have easiky privided ramp access on both sides, and if the okd bridge was really unsafe or didnt meet EU rules, removed it and done without it. This is a ridulous waste of money.

ThomastheTank said...

The simple truth is that funds are NOT available - the whole country's up to its eyes in debt and it'll take generations to pay off - if ever!

At some point, the penny might drop that Worcester Park isn't going to be the only station to get a new bridge that's of little or no benefit to most of us - it should be obvious that the whole network is getting them.

So what about all the other bridges having to be paid for at all the other stations on the network, that won't benefit 'us' at all? When the cost of 'their' bridges hits the prices of 'our' tickets, perhaps Meme will realise too late that reckless spending on credit has an unpleasant cost at the end.

Guest said...

Guest D may coin it 'disabilist attitude' if they want. But most of those picking up the bill for the bridge are aware that you can't pump extra money into one project, without withdrawing it form another. In this case, the withdrawal has been made from the pockets of working, fare paying, heavily taxed families, for whom the cost of this bridge is going to make a tangible difference to.

For the expense of this bridge to "end up self-funding", as Guest D claims, will require a HUGE reduction in the number of local wheelchair users on benefit and transferring to employment.

If, before the bridge, there were many thousands of wheelchair users living in KT4, who were unable to utilise existing, nearby, fully wheelchair accessible stations (e.g. Wimbledon, Epsom, Surbiton), then Guest D may have a point. And if this bridge transforms those (theoretical) thousands from welfare and empowers them into employment, then this bridge will have been a farsighted success - make no mistake about that!

But I doubt there is any real scope to offset even the cost of maintaining the bridge and not even the opportunity cost of (historically low) inflation - let alone the cost of the bridge itself!

I will be extremely happy to be proved wrong and no doubt, in time, Sutton Council can supply the numbers: before and after the bridge arrived.

However, if the bridge fails to make any material difference to the levels of local wheelchair users' employment whatsoever, I hope the bridge's exponents will have the strength of character to admit that it was the costly white elephant that some us (who picked up the bill) strongly suspected it would be. In that case, let's hope the expensive lesson is learned and the same costly failure doesn't get repeated across the rail network!

Guest said...

No, I have never seen a wheelchair user alight from London at Worcester Park - ever! But no doubt a number of the community minded passengers would have assisted, had this been the case.

Most likely, wheelchair users utilise Epsom, Wimbledon or Surbiton stations, which are all fully wheelchair accessible.

Have you carried an adult in a wheelchair down the stairs at WP station? I doubt it! Surely you are not suggesting that large numbers of wheelchair users regularly used to alight at Worcester Park and were stranded?

Guest D said...

I will accept it was an exaggeration to suggest that it is self funding, but us disabled pay tax as well and the rail infrastructure is mainly paid for by taxes, not fares.


The reason that I consider what you are saying as disabilist is that you are suggesting that the railways should be only for the able bodied no one else, or that disabled should have to travel to Wimbledon, Epsom etc to catch a train, have you considered how they are going to do that? It is a long way to Wimbledon by wheelchair. As Railtrack had decided for whatever reason the bridge needed replacing, they were required to provide one that met the disability discrimination act or to provide staff at all times to aid disabled people.


Now which is going to be cheaper long term the bridge or a higher staffing level.


Lastly some of us who picked up part of the bill as well, are pleased that the disabled and those with young children can finally make full use of their local station.

Andrew said...

I do genuinely hope that none of you and yours ever have the need to use a wheelchair!

Yes it cost money, and doesn't benefit every single one of us - so what?? The bike rack cost money, and I don't ride a bike - and I suspect nor do wheelchair users, but hey, live and let live.

As time rumbles along, more and more people will be living longer and living with problems which may require mobility assistance. This is forward thinking and building for the future, rather than for the now. I think it's a good idea.

Maybe you have never seen a stranded wheelchair user, because it is common knowledge that WP station is pretty inaccessbile, and hence not used?

Who knows, but I can't see what everyone is up in arms about to be perfectly honest with you.

This will benefit the community in the long run, without a doubt.

AlanRogers1 said...

Well said Andrew.

Guest said...

Our tax dollars will be frittered come what may. Better frittered here than in Europe!

Guest said...

Step free access cannot harm any appeal for crossrail2 to stop at Wookie Park.

Littlebigman said...

The dead pigeon is still there........

Guest said...

Nice!

Muttley said...

Presumably you realise the nets are there to stop pigeons getting in, rather than getting out? So preventing them perching and releasing bacteria ridden droppings on us, as we walk below.

You have a point though. There appear to be hundreds of pigeons using the station on a daily basis. But weeks after opening, I have yet to see a single wheelchair among what must be thousands of people, getting on or off the trains.

So how about a petition for the new bridge becoming a pigeon coop? Then there will be something useful for Worcester Park's (feathered) residents and to show for all that money that has been spent.

Birdlady said...

Yes, of course. But it obviously doesn't work! The pigeons still get in but can't get out.
I have tackled the station master on several occasions but he is not interested. I have found two helpfeul policepersons who cut off a piece of the netting, but not all of it. Why is it beyond them to put in a piece of small mesh wire netting to cover the whole area - is chicken wire too expensive? I have even called the fire brigade, on the advice of the policepersons, and to give them their due they did come out, some time later, when the pigeon had escaped. The won't do anything unless a pigeon is actually trapped. And they refuse to remove the netting as it isn't their job! Of course the next day another pigeon was in there. I now drive to work because I find it too upsetting.....

George said...

Station master? Really? There haven't been station-masters for decades, so no wonder whoever you spoke to wasn't interested! No point dealing with people on the ground, write to Network Rail if it's really so important to you.

As for pigeons - they are vermin. Would you be so welcoming if you found rats in your house?


And "policepersons" have far more important things to deal with, so you really shouldn't be wasting their time over such trivia. I suspect the "policepersons" you spoke to were actually PCSOs.

George said...

Well I once saw a pigeon get on a District line train at Gloucester Road and off again at South Kensington, so perhaps the local ones might use the footbridge if they feel the need of some amusement.


And I wonder why the lights are left on all day on the footbridge - is it really so dark on the staircases? Probably costs little, but looks ridiculous - like people driving their cars around in broad daylight with the headlights on.

George said...

What's it got to do with Sutton Council? The station is entirely within Kingston Borough, so why single out Sutton?

IF the old footbridge was life-expired (I vaguely recall a date of 1903 somewhere on the structure) then its replacement had to be DDA compliant (as others have pointed out), which makes the number of wheelchair users irrelevant. If you disagree with the requirements of the DDA then take it up with your MP.

George said...

In the unlikely event that Crossrail2 ever gets this far it will probably be electrified on the overhead - the footbridge will have been built high enough to allow for the wires. If that happens I would like to be around to read all the moans on this blog at the 'unsightly' wires!

Guest D said...

George, didn't you know that Sutton Lib-Dems are to blame for everything that goes wrong in this world? They probably supplied the shooter on the grassy knoll in '63!


I've been giving this bridge replacement some thought and my bet is that it has been triggered by the increase in size of the trains. That will in turn increase the numbers of people using the footbridge and at peak evening rush hour it will probably exceed a safe limit.

Birdlady said...

Is your not liking pigeons a good enough reason to trap them and let them starve to death? Many people carry diseases too! What's your solution to that?

birdlady said...

Please don't decide for me what are trivia. Also I know a police constable whan I see one thanks very much. Pigeons are birds and have a right to life.

Bridget said...

Can we have our old bridge back?...

Nichu said...

The lift has not been working the last few times I have been there. It didn't take long!

AlanRogers1 said...

Disappointing to say the least. Hopefully just teething troubles.

Spud said...

How much did this all cost? Dear me, I can envisage this being a regular thing. Can't believe that engineering isn't better than that...

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