Network Rail needs to outline why it is closing the foot crossing across the Angerstein Wharf branch line – and should help improve the alternative route to Westcombe Park station, local MP Matt Pennycook has said.
The track company announced on Wednesday that it would be closing the footpath across the freight railway, two years after it pulled back from an earlier decision to remove the link, which is used by Charlton residents to reach Westcombe Park station. Network Rail says the unstaffed crossing, one of just a handful in London, is unsafe.
News of the closure was greeted with anger by locals on Wednesday, and Pennycook said on social media that Network Rail needed to do more to explain just why it had to close the path, which links Fairthorn Road in Charlton with Farmdale Road in east Greenwich and a footbridge to Westcombe Park. He also called for improvements to the alternative route, a narrow footpath under the dingy Woolwich Road railway bridge.
“The decision to close the Angerstein Wharf foot crossing without a replacement pedestrian link at the same location is deeply disappointing,” he said. “Network Rail must fully explain their reasoning and work with the local community to improve the alternative route to the A102 footbridge.”
Network Rail told The Charlton Champion on Wednesday that the crossing was the most dangerous in its Kent region, citing “many incidents where drivers of trains had to apply their emergency brakes to avoid people on the track”.
But neighbours responded with scepticism. “Maximum 2 trains a day travelling at 5mph. If there are safety issues, then surely a proper crossing or a tunnel would be the answer,” said one Twitter user; another, Ben Marshall, said: “This is madness. Primary school students having to navigate the perilous single file path on Woolwich Road is the real safety risk.”
Network Rail says it will consult with the local community about an alternative route before it closes the path, which opened as a route for farm workers in the 1850s. Two years ago, over 2,000 people signed a petition against the closure.
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