Network Rail bosses have asked neighbours and passers-by to watch out for misuse and vandalism at the Angerstein Wharf railway crossing, which has been saved from closure this week.
The track company had threatened to close the historic footpath across the single-track freight branch line, which links streets around Fairthorn Road and Gurdon Road to Westcombe Park station, but reversed the decision on Wednesday after a campaign by local residents.
Safety issues were cited as the reason for closing the crossing, but Network Rail said that an independent review by its head of passenger safety, Allan Spence, found that safety measures in place were sufficient to make the Angerstein path an exception to its normal rules on crossings.
Network Rail now plans to upgrade the footsteps to the crossing, installing a new surface on the crossing itself, and is considering installing CCTV to watch the area.
“I am counting on cooperation of people who use the crossing and would be grateful for misuse and vandalism – anything that takes place that is unsafe – is challenged and reported,” Fiona Taylor, Network Rail’s route director for Kent, told a Zoom call for neighbours of the crossing on Wednesday evening.
The crossing would remain open so long as there were no incidents which called its safety into question, Taylor said.
Peninsula ward councillor Chris Lloyd, who also attended the meeting, backed Taylor’s call for help. “An interface between people in the railway isn’t what we would do today,” he said. “We don’t want to be here again should we find out that the crossing as been abused and it’s up for closure once again.”
Questions of rights of way around the land also needed to be sorted out with landowners and Greenwich Council, Taylor added.
The crossing was originally built for farm workers in the 1850s when the privately-built Angerstein Wharf line was built to link the new North Kent line to the Thames. It has grown in importance in recent years with the building of new housing on the former Thorn Lighting site off Victoria Way and Fairthorn Road, with 675 people recorded as using the crossing each day.
The meeting was told that rerouting the footpath under the railway line would cost £3 million, although these costs were challenged. Lloyd suggested that funding from developers could be used to help pay for any path under the line.
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