As viewed from the Queens Road bridge
Work has continued, mainly at the Walthamstow track lowering sites. Paved track has been installed between the former Blackhorse Road station site to Suffolk Park Road (bridge 60) and between Shrubland Road (bridge 68) to just short of the Yunus Khan Close access gates (MP8½ - site of former Queen’s Road signal box).
The lifted section of up line (Blackhorse Road – MP8½) has been reinstated and the down line removed over the same distance. The leading edges of Walthamstow Queen’s Road platforms have been lowered but the rearward part remains to be lowered and there is no clear sign yet of the final track level.
Electrification masts, together with some cantilever gantries, have been installed between Blackhorse Road (bridge 56) and at least as far as Northcote Road (bridge 62) and from Queen’s Road (bridge 70) to Boundary Road (bridge 71). A few weeks ago Network Rail#GOBE tweeted that they had installed 89 OLE masts. This must be well over 100 by now but considering over 550 are required, the slow rate of progress must be concerning. There is very little sign of any work on the viaduct section from Boundary Road (bridge 71) to country side of Wanstead Park. Leyton Midland Road station has received new passenger staircases. Just before this meeting a Tweet was received stating that there was activity at Wanstead Park station.
(b) Rail Replacement Bus Services (RRBS)
During the summer it became apparent that TfL were looking to make savings on the cost of operation of the RRBS. TfL staff were conducting passenger counts (classically after the schools had broken up for the summer holidays!) and TfL Revenue Protection staff were conducting checks at Barking and East Ham. This latter raised the question of how Penalty Fares could be imposed on a RRBS when there was no means of paying a fare on the bus and closed stations had no ticket retailing facilities. Enquiries revealed that a valid ticket on a TfL RRBS was defined as a possession of a valid paper ticket, paper or Oyster Travelcard or sufficient Oyster PAYG credit to cover the cost of the journey being undertaken (in this case TfL zonal rail fares).
Informed Sources were stating that the intension was to reduce Route T (Barking – Walthamstow) to at least every 15 minutes all day on weekdays (currently every 10-12 minutes until 21:00, every 15 minutes thereafter) and possibly every 20 minutes. Route J (Seven Sisters – Highgate Road) was due to start operating every 15minutes on weekdays from 26th September. It was already operating at 30 minutes intervals at weekends and public holidays with abysmal loadings.
Around the last couple of weeks or so the TfL webpage relating to the #GOBE closure showed the post 23rd September RRBS arrangements as being:
· Route T: Every 20 minutes weekends and public holidays and every 15 minutes during weekdays;
· Route J : Every 30 minutes weekends and public holidays and every 20 minutes during weekdays
Further contact with informed sources revealed that the TfL website was correct except that it had been agreed between Arriva and TfL that Route J would initially operate every 15 minutes on weekdays, but that loadings would be monitored and that if they were low, weekday frequency would be reduced to every 20 minutes from 31st October. The TfL website was subsequently amended to reflect that the weekday frequency of Route J would be every 15 minutes.