This post was first published by Croydon Advertiser on 30/10/2018.
New videos explain why East Croydon commuters face so many delays
Network Rail has unveiled plans to improve East Croydon station to fix the bottleneck it causes.
Network Rail has released two new videos which explain why trains running through East Croydon experience so many delays.
More trains pass through the station than any other in the country, and there isn’t any room for more trains to cope with the increasing demand on the line because of the Croydon bottleneck.
Network Rail has warned there will be more overcrowding if nothing is done, so they have unveiled plans to improve the rail network for the 300,0000 passengers who travel between Croydon and central London or towards Brighton every day.
Key to the upgrade, if approved, is the plan to create a series of new railway flyovers to solve the ‘bottleneck’ problems at Windmill Junction, the major interchange at Selhurst. By replacing the existing flat junctions, it means fewer trains would have to wait at red signals.
The plans would also involve a major upgrade of East Croydon station, with two extra platforms.
Network Rail say this change will lead to more services frequently running on time, thus leaving more commuters happy because their train is delay-free.
To explain how the East Croydon bottleneck operates, Network Rail has made two videos.
In the first video, Network Rail explain what changes they are prosing to make, and what exactly they will mean for East Croydon station.
The second video is aerial footage showing how the bottleneck operates. On May 16, 2016, in a two hour period during rush-hour, 39 trains can be seen stopping at red lights just outside the station, mainly due to over congesion.
What changes are proposed at East Croydon?
As well as increasing the number of platforms at East Croydon from six to eight, the plan is make the station bigger with a new concourse offering better access to platforms and also out to the town centre
According to Network Rail, the changes at East Croydon station would mean a “bigger concourse with improved facilities for passengers”.
It would also help the ongoing regeneration of Croydon town centre, it claims, with potential for new homes and offices to be built above and around the station.
As part of the plans step-free access would be added to Norwood Junction station for the first time.
John Halsall, Network Rail route managing director for the South East, said earlier this month: “A reliable railway is absolutely critical to Croydon’s economic future and our proposal to remove the bottleneck will mean significant investment for the benefit of local people, regardless of whether or not they travel by rail.
“For too long, train performance on the lines through Croydon have been below the level that passengers expect and deserve.
“While a number of factors have contributed to these issues in recent years, the basic layout of our railway through the Croydon area and the bottleneck it creates means reliability won’t ever improve to acceptable levels without significant changes.”
What is the Croydon bottleneck?
Passenger numbers have doubled since 2000 on the Brighton Main Line and this part of the network is a regular on the lists of the country’s most crowded services.
Train punctuality on the Brighton Main Line is the lowest of any major route as the bottleneck magnifies the impact of even the most minor incident or delay.
But there isn’t any room for more trains to cope with the increasing demand on the line because of the Croydon bottleneck.
Network Rail warns this will lead to even more overcrowding if nothing is done.
The tracks to the north split into routes to Victoria and London Bridge, creating what’s known as the Selhurst triangle – or Croydon bottleneck.
Around 75 million train passengers go through Croydon each year, which is up from 45 million in 2005 and expected to rise to 90 million by the early 2030s.
As part of a £300m government-funded programme to tackle hotspots and boost rail reliability in the South East, Network Rail is already carrying out a major project to upgrade tracks and signalling on the southern end of the Brighton Main Line.
Work is taking place at weekends as well as during a nine-day block in February 2019. Other ongoing improvements to the line include power supply upgrades across Sussex to allow longer and more frequent trains to run in the future.
Network Rail is going to host a six-week public consultation on the East Croydon plans through November and December.
From next Monday (November 5) to December 17, passengers, businesses and members of the public will be able to take part in an online consultation by visiting networkrail.co.uk/croydon
Network Rail will also host drop-in events from November 6 to November 22 so people can talk to members of the project team in person.