Angerstein Wharf crossing closure: Show me your evidence, MP tells Network Rail

Angerstein crossing
The crossing is used by people travelling to and from Westcombe Park station

Greenwich & Woolwich MP Matt Pennycook has asked Network Rail to provide the evidence for its plans to close the Angerstein Wharf rail crossing – including why the track company claims it is one of the most dangerous crossings in SE London and Kent.

The state-owned company confirmed last month that it was to close the link between Fairthorn Road in Charlton and Farmdale Road in east Greenwich, which connects local commuters to Westcombe Park station. It had originally planned to close the foot crossing in 2019, but paused its plans for a review.

Network Rail has said that the crossing must close on safety grounds, but Pennycook has written to the body asking for the evidence as to why the crossing is deemed unsafe, and why an alternative tunnel or footbridge under the single-track freight line cannot be provided.

The letter comes after the track company held a consultation meeting with local residents last week, which Pennycook said had been followed by “uniformly negative feedback”.

The nine-point letter asks:

  • if Network Rail will publish the review it undertook after its earlier decision to close the crossing;
  • for the evidence that passengers are climbing under or over stationary trains at the crossing;
  • what other safety measures have been considered;
  • the evidence behind claiming it was the most dangerous crossing in its Kent region;
  • why safety ratings for the crossing had changed over the years;
  • why Network Rail believes there is not a right of way at that location;
  • what assessment Network tail has made of the alternative route via Woolwich Road; and
  • what it is doing to address safety concerns for passengers who face having to use Woolwich Road if the crossing closes.

The crossing is one of just a handful of foot crossings of railway lines in the London area, and has been in existence since the Angerstein Wharf freight line was built across a route used by farm workers in 1852.

Network Rail, which has recently installed gates at the crossing, said last month that the number of incidents on the line – which regularly sees freight trains to heading to Angerstein Wharf on the Thames – meant it had to act and that it would be “in close communication with the local community about the alternative route which is chosen”.


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Angerstein Wharf rail crossing closure: Work to improve alternative route, MP tells Network Rail

Angerstein Wharf crossing gate
Gates were recently placed on the crossing

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.

Woolwich Road
The dingy alternative route after dark

“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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Angerstein Wharf rail crossing will close after all, Network Rail confirms

Angerstein crossing family
The crossing has been a local landmark since the 1850s

Charlton Champion exclusive: Network Rail has said it plans to close the foot crossing at the Angerstein Wharf branch line after all, two years after backing away from initial plans to block off the much-used link.

The historic crossing, one of the last of its kind left in London, connects residents in and near Fairthorn Road, Charlton, with Farmdale Road in east Greenwich and a footbridge over the A102 to Westcombe Park station.

Network Rail originally planned to close the crossing in 2019 as part of a resignalling programme, but it was met with a huge outcry from local residents, councillors, and the local MP Matt Pennycook, with over 2,000 people signing a petition.

The track company announced a review of the plans and apologised to local residents for not giving enough notice.

The crossing, originally built for farm workers in the 1850s, has grown in importance in recent years with the development of new housing on the old Thorn Lighting site between Victoria Way and Fairthorn Road. The newer Synergy development, which welcomed its first residents last year, offering a direct link to Gurdon Road and the crossing.

Many of these homes overlook the Greenwich railway line and are within sight of Westcombe Park station, but no provision was made to improve access to the station with residents left to depend on the foot crossing.

Network Rail, which has recently installed gates at the crossing, said the number of incidents on the line – which regularly sees freight trains to heading to Angerstein Wharf on the Thames – meant it had to act.

Fiona Taylor, Network Rail’s route director for Kent, told The Charlton Champion: “We have announced today our intention to close Angerstein level crossing near Charlton due to the safety risk it poses to users, passengers and our rail colleagues. Angerstein crossing is currently registered as the most dangerous of nearly 350 level crossings which we operate in Kent, with many incidents where drivers of trains had to apply their emergency brakes to avoid people on the track.

“The closure will not be immediate, and we will be in close communication with the local community about the alternative route which is chosen. We understand that many residents will be disappointed by this closure but their safety and that of passengers and rail colleagues is our priority.”


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