Friday, 23 August 2013

Leyton Midland Road Station

Members of the Barking - Gospel Oak Rail User Group (BGORUG) were at Leyton Midland Road station today warnimg passengers of Transport for London's intention to permanently close the Midland Road entrance to the station, causing them see attached poster/leaflet. BGORUG has already sent its comments to Waltham Forest Council which was consulted and will be providing comments to London TravelWatch before the 26 August deadline.
For more details/information Contact:
Glenn Wallis
Barking - Gospel Oak Rail User Group
(020) 8529 2361
Additional Notes:
Since London Overground Rail Operations Limited (LOROL) had twice previously closed the Midland Road entrance which had caused several complaints by passengers to us and caused us to ask LOROL if they had gone through the statutory procedure, which they had not, and both times the entrance was reopened. It was because of this that we had advised both Transport for London (TfL) and LOROL that there would likely be passenger resistance to a closure proposal and why we are annoyed at being kept in the dark about this formal closure application.
This proposal has every appearance of being ill-thought out and rushed through. From the poor drawing supplied, it appears the ticket gates are to be located close to the foot of the staircase from Platform 1 (westbound), which may well be a cause of congestion at the foot of the stairs as passengers from both platforms converge on the gates. It is not uncommon for trains to arrive at both platforms simultaneously.
On the street side of the proposed gateline, a boundary wall juts out and reduces the width of the passenger thoroughfare causing another pinch-point. We have some doubt that it will be possible to install a gateline complying with Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) requirements in this very constrained location. According to station staff, two Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs) are to be located against this wall nearer the staff cabin.
The Midland Road entrance is in fact the ‘out of hours’ gate for when the 1981 Greater London Council funded booking office was closed. The booking office occupied the land in front of the arch now housing the window factory and entry was from the land in front of the next arch which was not then occupied by a motor repair workshop and car sales lot. The booking office was demolished by Railtrack in 1995 and the entrance from the High Road opened later in 1995 or 1996 as part of the improvements funded by grants obtained by the Gospel Oak – Barking Local Authority Group.
There are a number of reasons to object to the closure of the Midland Road entrance:
1.   The additional walk for passengers from the Hainault Road direction is over a narrow, uneven footway, passing two ‘environmentally unfriendly’ industrial units which often partially or fully block the footway. This presents additional hazards to the disabled and infirm. With a growing elderly population, the numbers of people who have difficulty walking but are not classified as disabled are growing.
BGORUG first raised concerns about these two industrial units at Waltham Forest Transport Liaison Committee back in 2009, expressing the view that these two businesses were totally inappropriate and detrimental to the public realm around the station area and should be relocated to somewhere less sensitive. The TfL representative present was asked to investigate the two Network Rail tenancies but it seems took no further action. In fact two railway arches are about to become available off Harrow Road which would be a much better location for these two businesses. In correspondence with us, London TravelWatch said, “We have however raised with Lorol, the issue of parked cars around the other entrance – which we feel if unchecked could cause congestion around the proposed ticket gates. We believe many of these vehicles are under the care or control of businesses located under the railway and that are subject to Network Rail tenancies. We have therefore asked Lorol to take this up with Network Rail as landlord.” 
  1. The installation of ticket gates at the High Road entrance does not preclude the retention of the Midland Road entrance in its existing form. There is an Oyster reader by the entrance that could be retained. There is a similar arrangement at Leyton Central Line station, although that entrance is only open during morning and evening peak hours. The installation of a gate line will require an increase in station staffing. The ORR requires an operating ticket gate to be under staff supervision at all times so the gates can be opened in an emergency. If a member of staff is not present, the ticket gate(s) must be secured in the open position for passenger safety. The duties of the existing Station Assistant at Leyton Midland Road require regular patrols of the station including observing the arrival and departure of trains and assisting passengers with luggage and baby buggies etc. The importance of this duty will increase with the planned withdrawal of train conductor-guards. In order to avoid constantly locking the ticket gates in the open position while working out of sight on the platforms above, LOROL will have to provide another member of staff to supervise the lower station area. This additional staff member could also supervise the Midland Road entrance and challenge any passengers entering or leaving without using the Oyster reader.
  1. LOROL has never before identified ticketless travel as a problem at Leyton Midland Road . Previously, the company has stated that South Tottenham and Walthamstow Queen’s Road were the worst stations in this regard. In its application to close the Midland Road entrance, the company has provided no evidence of numbers of fare evaders found during Revenue Protection ‘blocks’ at the station. Neither has it provided any passenger usage figures for the Midland Road entrance. BGORUG is aware that usage of this entrance is high compared with the High Road entrance. In spite of the short notice, the Group hopes to carry out some passenger counts in the next day or two (155 passengers passed through the entrance between 08:15 and 09:45 on 23rd August.
4.   Could the Midland Road entrance be modified to accommodate a wide two-way ticket gate? Yes.
(i)      Part of the forecourt of the window company unit could be used to widen the entrance to accommodate a wide two-way ticket gate. As stated above BGORUG would prefer this tenant to be relocated elsewhere.
(ii)     The existing staircase to Platform 2 (eastbound) is half its original width. The base of the abandoned half is still extant. The staircase could be moved onto the abandoned side next to the viaduct, thus freeing space to widen the entrance to accommodate a wide two-way ticket gate. This option would also require an electrical control cabinet to be relocated within the arch space.
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