UPDATED STORY: Network Rail has apologised for not consulting with local residents over its plans to close the Angerstein Wharf foot crossing following a huge outcry from neighbours, Greenwich Council and the local MP.
The crossing had been due to close permanently from Saturday as part of plans to upgrade the signalling on the freight branch line. But Network Rail announced on Thursday afternoon that while the crossing would close for a week from Saturday for work to be carried out on the track, it would review its plans for the future of the crossing.
A spokesperson told The Charlton Champion: “We would like to apologise for the lack of meaningful engagement with local people around the proposed closure of Angerstein footpath crossing and have decided to stop the closure process until a review has taken place.
“We planned to close the crossing, near Westcombe Park station, as part of a £55m project to upgrade signalling and track on the lines from Deptford to Woolwich Arsenal and Lewisham to Falconwood, and increase the freight capacity at Angerstein Wharf. The increase in freight traffic and the fact trains will now straddle the crossing when stopped at red signals, presents a very real risk to the public, which we take very seriously.
“The crossing will be blocked while our engineers are working on the line over the Easter weekend, however, it will not close permanently at this point.
“We will provide a further update on long term plans, as soon as a review has taken place.”
A petition was launched on Wednesday protesting against the closure of the crossing, which runs between Fairthorn Road in Charlton and Farmdale Road in east Greenwich, and provides an important link to Westcombe Park station for hundreds of commuters. It crosses the Angerstein Wharf branch line, used for taking aggregates to and from the River Thames.
The crossing, originally built for farm workers in the 1850s, has grown in importance in the past decade with new housing being built at the end of Farmdale Road. It is one of the last of its type in London, the only other one being at the evocatively-named Trumpers Crossing in Hanwell, on another freight route to the Thames.
Residents only found out a few days ago when letters were pushed through their letter boxes. Local MP Matt Pennycook has criticised the lack of consultation, saying a closure would cause “significant inconvenience” to residents who would have to walk via Woolwich Road.
Greenwich Council has also formally protested, and this website understands the matter is with the council’s legal team.
Even Network Rail’s chairman, Sir Peter Hendy, was drawn into the row, responding on Twitter to one user who had flagged up the issue.
The signalling upgrade project will also mean no trains on the Greenwich and Bexleyheath lines between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
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