“USE HIGH LEVEL RAIL ROUTE AS CYCLING AND WALKING QUIETWAY” CALL
“One way system could be scrapped”
“3,000 new car parking spaces unacceptable”
USE THE former Crystal Palace high level rail route as either a cycling and walking ‘quietway’ or in conjunction with a narrow gauge railway – that’s one of the ideas being suggested by the Crystal Palace park community stakeholder group as a way of alleviating transport problems if the proposed new Crystal Palace development gets the go-ahead.
This would connect Crystal Palace to cycle superhighway routes into central London and the London cycle network toward Canary Wharf, say the group in a report.
The route, which ran from Crystal Palace high level station – just by the Farquhar Road bridge off Crystal Palace Parade – via Upper Sydenham , Lordship Lane, Honor Oak and Nunhead, closed in 1954, and although much of the route is intact, other parts have been built over.
“The distances and shallow gradients of this route would give competitive journey times for cycling compared to other modes for journeys into central London and Docklands” says the report..
“The attractive route would encourage new cyclists and walking which could be accommodated alongside the primary current use of the line as a natural wildlife reserve, and without the need for substantial demolition of properties built on the line since closure in 1954.
“Converting the high level line to a similar tri-mode transport corridor with the added novelty of a narrow gauge railway would provide additional capacity to the Palace and park, as well as being able to generate interest of its own right.
“It could also help regenerate communities in South London – Peckham and Nunhead in particular – which suffer unemployment and deprivation by providing job opportunities in engineering and servicing tourism. “There is also potential land available adjacent to Nunhead station which might be available for workshops etc.
“Added tourism interest would be greater accessibility to the Horniman museum, and the potential to build an ‘art’ trail based on the Pissaro painting of the line. (Pissarro painted Lordship Lane station from the Cox’s Walk bridge above the line, part of which now stands in Dulwich and Sydenham Hill wood nature reserve).
Asking: “What would be acceptable to the local community?” the report calls for:
- A comprehensive programme of public realm improvements on roads in and around Crystal Palace, including priority for improvements to the public realm in favour of pedestrians and cyclists, particularly linking the Triangle area with the park. This would also include improving the through walking and cycling routes within the park.
“At the present time, the Triangle area is an example of very poor public realm, with car traffic dominating the street scene, insufficient cycle parking, no public seating to speak of, and poor pedestrian connectivity to the park and the Palace site.
“Footpath and pavement areas are often in a very poor state of repair (not surprising given that the responsibility is divided amongst five boroughs).
“Any development on the Palace site must include a commitment to improvements to the public realm in the immediate vicinity of the development and on the main desire lines to and from rail stations, bus and tram stops and retail – the Triangle / hotel / Church Road areas which would serve the development.
- Additional road capacity and public realm improvements at key locations in south London such as Tulse Hill on the A205.
“In the original Crystal Palace very few visitors would have accessed the palace complex by road transport. “Development of roads was therefore not a consideration. “But in the past 150 years intensified commercial and residential development; the expansion of car ownership and the designation of roads as major through routes (such as the A205 South Circular), means that any development of the former Palace site will have implications for the wider road network*.
“Together these serve many different business and residential areas beyond Crystal Palace, and are key feeders for multiple public transport routes.
“The Crystal Palace – Penge – Beckenham – Bromley corridor is problematic given the major constraint of Shortlands railway bridge. “The new Palace and ancillary developments that will follow it are likely to generate significant extra demand on this corridor. “Making services 227 and 358 more frequent may not deliver the capacity required.
“The only other alternatives would be to put in a new double deck service avoiding Shortlands or by bringing forward the proposed Tram extension to Bromley.
- Redesign of The Triangle one-way system to improve traffic flow, retain access for buses, increasing permeability for cyclists and pedestrians and improved car parking availability for those businesses more dependent on car borne access.
“Any development of the former Palace site will necessarily have a major impact on the surrounding road network and the Triangle one-way system in particular. “This suffers from congestion, poor road surfaces and a lack of priority for cyclists, pedestrians and buses. “It also creates a degree of community segregation.
“The Triangle area would also likely see a major increase in pressure on public parking spaces, as a result of the development. “This could have a negative impact on certain types of businesses such as furniture and antiques dealers which are proportionately more dependent on car and van-borne custom. “Previous studies have identified a problem with available parking.
“Improving or removing the one-way system could significantly improve the viability and accessibility of the Triangle both to businesses and residents, and improve the safety and attractiveness of cycling and walking in the area.
“In addition, a redesign of the Triangle area could give a marginal increase in the amount of car parking available. “Any development of the Palace site which includes significant additional car-borne generated journeys must include a commitment to working on and contributing to the improvement of the road network in the Triangle.
- Retention of a bus station facility capable of accommodating all current bus routes in Crystal Palace and of accommodating new routes. An enclosed bus station within the new building would be acceptable. During any construction period alternative facilities would need to be provided at points acceptable to TfL and the local community.
“Buses were a very late addition from just before World War One, and developed more after the closure of the Palace than before it. “Crystal Palace bus station serves 10 daytime routes which terminate there. “Without the bus station buses would have to stand on the street.
“There are very few alternative locations to the Parade where buses could stand without lengthy route extensions. “This would likely increase the cost of bus operations by needing more buses and drivers or lead to services either by cut back from Crystal Palace or becoming less frequent.
“The average cost of one additional bus to be added to a route every weekday Monday to Friday is around £300,000 per annum.
“Even assuming just one extra bus per route being required this would add £3 million a year to TfL’s bus operating costs, before any additional fares revenue is considered.
“It also needs to be remembered that at times when various parts of the bus station have been closed the result has been virtual gridlock all around the Triangle.
“The usage of bus routes serving Crystal Palace is approximately 40 m per annum of routes terminating at the bus station and 10 m per annum for routes passing through. “These figures do not include usage by children under age 11 and holders of paper Travelcards, and so is an underestimate.
“Assuming that a replacement bus station is provided or that the current one is retained, the development of the new Palace and the redevelopment of the park are likely to generate additional traffic on the current bus network.
“In the case of most routes additional journeys can be absorbed within current capacity. “The exceptions are the ‘small’ vehicle routes 322, 410 and 450 which have been developed in the past 25 years to serve areas away from ‘main line’ bus routes, to serve the ‘back roads’ parts of the area that have been ‘in-filled’ with residential developments and replacement of housing stock with higher density flats and apartments.
“Bus stops in the area also need to be reassessed to ensure that they are all accessible, with kerbs at the appropriate height, and with parking restrictions to ensure that buses can pull up to the kerb at all times. In some residential roads this may necessitate the introduction of bus ‘boarders’.**
- Extension of Tramlink to Crystal Palace, and a commitment to extend the tram from Beckenham Junction to Bromley town centre.
- Providing additional train services to Crystal Palace, where these do not result in reduced services to other local communities.
- A commitment to make all rail stations that serve the park and Palace fully step free and accessible.
“From the information presented to date, it is apparent that the developers assume that the Edwardian / Victorian infrastructure that supported the original Crystal Palace is sufficient (less the high level railway, but including any tram extension) to cover the transport requirements generated by a new Palace complex and a redeveloped park.
“But this has a number of fundamental flaws arising from the passage of time, changing expectations of the public, the advance of technology and the subsequent development of services, the neighbourhood and its south London context.”
Other points from the report include:
CYCLING: “For cyclists there is virtually no off-road segregated provision, and on-road marking varies from borough to borough. “The redevelopment of the park provides an historic opportunity to provide some off-road through-routes for cyclists.”
TRAINS: “Services from the current station could have longer trains – expansion of up to five cars is planned for the Overground, and Southern services could be extended to up to 10 coaches.
“Units kept at Streatham Hill carriage sidings during the day could be made available to run a shuttle service between Crystal Palace and London Bridge in the off-peak at modest additional cost. “This would meet ZhongRong’s aspirations for a shuttle service to central London.
“Crystal Palace station is now fully accessible. “Other stations which serve the area and the park are not. Penge West and Gipsy Hill station are only fully accessible to one platform in each direction. “In both cases it would be relatively easy to provide step free access by means of additional entrances and ramps by negotiating with adjacent landowners.”
TRAMLINK: “The extension of Tramlink to Crystal Palace has significant benefits in terms of regeneration but also of the ability to provide crowding relief to bus and rail services in the area. However, greater benefits could potentially be achieved if any extension was built at the same time as an extension from Beckenham Junction to Bromley town centre.”
The report also lists what would be unacceptable to the local community:
- 3000 new parking spaces without any additional capacity on the road network itself or any measures to mitigate the impact of the development.
- Closure of the bus station and dispersal or reduction in local bus services.
- Provision of a non-stop train from Crystal Palace to central London where this would result in reduced local stopping services for other stations.
- The development to NOT include the extension of Tramlink to Crystal Palace.
*In terms of impact the biggest impacts are likely to be felt within Crystal Palace business district (Triangle gyratory) and junctions with the A205 South Circular of roads connecting to Crystal Palace – Anerley Hill, Tulse Hill gyratory, West Dulwich Croxted Road, Forest Hill and the Catford gyratory, the report says.
**Bus Boarders are an extended pavement designed to let the bus access the kerb-side unhindered by parked vehicles, and make entry and exit from the buses easier for everyone. The designs used in London also generally tend to create and guarantee more parking space for cars, whilst making the bus service more reliable. Web link to the design guidance for London which shows some examples http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/accessibile_bus_stop_design_guidance.pdf
To view the whole report please go to: www.crystalpalacepark.org.uk