Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Thameslink - will we pay an Olympic price?

In the rush to get the Thameslink project completed ahead of the 2012 Olympics there are concerns that West Hampstead residents may get left in the slow lane. The priority for Network Rail is clearly the timely completion of this highly delayed project it is clear that there is a risk that residents could pay a price in terms of disruption to our travel and daily lives.

The station is to be totally refurbished and some of that work is already underway with the installation of the new bridge.  Last week I met with representatives of Network Rail with Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn Chris Philp.  I sought and was granted assurances that the north entrance to the station will remain open when the new southern station complex is completed.

The good news is that the higher frequency of the new 12 car trains will clearly mean far better train services from the station. However, there will be little improvement to the congestion along West End Lane and the larger trains will likely mean even more passengers trying to switch trains.

The rush to upgrade train services which pass through West Hampstead stations coupled with the replacement of water mains by Thames Water is in danger of creating a “perfect storm” of transport disruption for us all. Surely it should not be beyond the wit of London’s transport planners to make sure that not all train services are suspended at the same time as happened over the summer?

This was another issue raised with Network Rail – that there should be some co-ordination so that when work is taking place on the Jubilee line the north London line and trains to Euston from Kilburn High Road over ground remain available.

The “interchange” drop in session at West Hampstead Library on the 21 October between 2pm and 8pm will give us another chance to question representatives from Network Rail.  It is vital that residents get assurances on noise and disruption now before it is too late. It will also be interesting to get more information on the “green roof” of the new Iverson Road entrance.

The Thameslink scheme could provide a major improvement to transport links to West Hampstead, however the concern remains that it does nothing to solve the underlying congestion problems along West End Lane.

Havard Hughes

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