Network Rail investigating long term solution to bridge strikes

Anyone who lives near Tulse Hill station of commutes to work will know that the bridge over Thurlow Park Road is regularly hit by lorries who are too tall to travel underneath.

We have been championing this issue with Transport for London and Network Rail. TfL have installed new technology which has reduced bridge strikes by a third, which means the trains are less disrupted and the South Circular is shut and completely rerouted down Lancaster Avenue  less frequently.

However, oversized lorries are still sent down Lancaster Avenue, which is a residential street and inappropriate for large articulated vehicles.

We are very pleased that Network Rail are exploring longer term solutions, in partnership with TfL, and will be conducting ground investigation works around the railway bridge to help them plan future works as part of their Railway Upgrade Plan. This includes boreholes, bridge abutment examinations and trial pits.

While in the long term we hope this will lead to them investing in either raising the bridge or lowering the road, in the short term we appreciate it may cause some disruption. Local residents will shortly receive a letter from Network Rail setting out the local impact.

As it is important for train passengers, road users , residents and staff to be safe, this type of work can only be carried out when trains are not operating and therefore they will mainly be taking place overnight and at weekends. We have been assured by Network Rail that staff and contractors have been briefed on how to work responsibly with the local community but would encourage you to get in touch with us if you experience any problems.

Some success in our campaign to end bridge strikes – a south circular technology upgrade

Many of you will be familiar with the regular delay and disruption caused by bridge strikes to the railway bridge over the South Circular in Tulse Hill. It is the most regular hit bridge in the UK – the regular collisions have caused over 200 hours of delay to Southern and Thameslink passengers in the past 12 months.

The impact of a bridge strike is incredibly disruptive – the roads are blocked, the trains are delayed and traffic is routed down residential streets. After years of inaction from TfL and Network Rail, we have been working hard to raise the profile of the problem and get some investment in solving it. We have been working with local residents, TfL officers, our MP and the London Assembly member, Flo Eshalomi AM.

The bridge’s location, near to the Tulse Hill station platforms, means it isn’t possible to raise the level, so we are petitioning for long term investment to instead lower the road in order to ensure all vehicles can fit underneath without any collision. This is a significant engineering challenge and will require substantial investment.

In the meantime, we have successfully lobbied for better technology and signage to prevent oversized lorries from attempting to go under the bridge. A detector system has been installed which is triggered by overheight vehicles. This will set off an alert to drivers that they need to stop or turn off the road before the bridge. We have had additional signage installed on the bridge, steel beams to protect it and engineers based nearby at peak hours to inspect the bridge quickly if needed, to minimise delays to train services. We have also successfully pushed for CCTV to be installed.

The cost of installation and future maintenance has been shared by TfL and Network Rail, and the systems are linked to TfL’s London Streets and Traffic Control Centre. That means the condition of the system can be monitored remotely and if a fault occurs it can be dealt with immediately. The LED signs are low energy.

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It’s Night Tube time!

The first Night Tube services begin TONIGHT! Running on the Central and Victoria lines from tonight, the service will be extended to the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines in Autumn. It will offer a 24-hour service on Friday and Saturday nights.This means that tonight trains will run every 10 mins to and from Brixton, with the 37, N2 and N3 bringing residents back to Thurlow Park through the night from Brixton station. There will be an enhanced police service during overnight services to ensure that the Tube remains a safe, low crime environment.

After the delays to the rollout of night time services, we are thrilled that Sadiq Khan has managed to come to a resolution with staff and unions that everyone is happy with and deliver the new service within just first 100 days of office.

Update on Quietways next steps – changes we’re pushing for

Last Autumn a surprise announcement of an experimental road closure on Rosendale Road mobilised the community. As your local councillors, we worked with businesses, residents and community groups to oppose the closure and successfully got it taken off the table. We organised a series of codesign workshops to make sure that TfL, Lambeth and Sustrans listened to residents’ concerns and ideas. We have consistently said that we are keen to encourage and enable cycling, but that this should be done collaboratively with local communities, not in a way which creates conflict between cyclists, local residents and local businesses.

Once the feedback from workshops was brought together, the designs went to public consultation – advertised online as well as in letters which went to 4,200 addresses in Thurlow Park. Over 250 residents responded to the consultation, and many got in touch with us too.

Residents who contacted us were also keen to understand the next steps, and we’re aware that there has been a long period with no updates on progress. The mayoral election caused some delay, but mostly the volume of responses meant it has taken officers a long time to process everything. Their published report will provide a detailed response to every query raised by you in the consultation.

Timeline:
September – The report with answers to queries raised in the consultation and a breakdown of people’s answers will be published
September-October – New proposals will be published and put to formal consultation
January – If the new proposals are agreed from the second consultation, work will take place

From talking and corresponding with many of you, we’re aware that there is still a lot of unhappiness with the proposals. We have been pushing for changes to the proposals ahead of any new designs being put forward. We’ve met with the cabinet member and officers in Lambeth, and highlighted the changes we need to see in any new designs for the scheme to be acceptable to local residents as well as improving cycling.

In particular, we are working on:

  • Significantly reducing the number of parking spaces lost
  • Ensuring good access to the allotments
  • Greening at the junction of Rosendale and Turney Roads
  • Tackling rat running on Dalmore Road and Carson Road
  • Preventing any changes to the junction of Rosendale and Parkhall Roads which make traffic worse

Quietways update – public consultation

Since last summer, there have been a number of workshops and public meetings regarding Quietway Route 7, which includes part of Rosendale Road.

While many of you are unhappy about the choice of route, this was decided a number of years ago before we were elected councillors. However, since this was raised with us, we have done all we can to give residents a say over what this section of Quietway looks like. We have raised your concerns right to the top – having met with Andrew Gilligan, who is responsible London-wide for the Quietways programme, plus regular contact with Lambeth, TfL, the cabinet member, the leader of the council, the MP and Sustrans.

The proposals for public consultation are being completed and this will begin later this month. We’ll post links here on how to feedback online, and you’ll also receive a letter informing you the consultation dates and how to get involved if you live near the route. The project has been handed back to Lambeth officers to deliver on behalf of TfL from Sustrans, who were hired by TfL to help with hosting workshops and public engagement events.

In the meantime, please do continue to contact us with your thoughts and questions.

Bridge over Troubled Traffic*

A big thank you to residents and David McKenna from TfL for yesterday’s meeting about bridge strikes on the railway over the South Circular. 

It was a very productive meeting looking at – 

  • Bridge strike statistics – Thurlow Park has the most bridge strikes in the country
  • Impact on the local area of bridge strikes – economic cost of delayed journeys, effect on air pollution, impact on Lancaster Avenue when it is used to divert traffic, road safety, damage to bridge, cost to train operating companies
  • Long term strategy – David and his team are developing the business case for lowering the road as a way to prevent bridge strikes and to remove the need to divert any traffic down Lancaster Avenue. This will take some time because it is a complicated engineering challenge thanks to bridge foundations and the sewer. It will also have a huge impact on the road, as it would have to be closed for the works to be completed.
  • Short term strategy – David is installing better signage within the next 4 months. These will be “smart”, triggered only by oversized vehicles which should mean they are more effective. CCTV will be installed to monitor and measure impact

Our next steps as a community are to – 

  1. The community will write to the mayoral and GLA candidates requesting that they all prioritise this issue.
  2. David will feedback based on questions raised by attendees, including about whether lorry drivers and their companies can be prosecuted or fined when they hit the bridge, more data, maps showing locations of signs and how the community can support his business case. 
  3. The signs will be installed within the next 4 months.
  4. Feasibility studies will be developed, beginning now. This may include some drill holes and radars to identify services underground. These will be ongoing for the next few months.
  5. Once a new London Mayor and GLA member are in post, we will organise a meeting to request that this is high on their agenda.
  6. We will organise a progress meeting in approx. 6 months where David can share how he’s getting on. We can invite Network Rail and Thames Water, as appropriate. 

Thank you LARA for organising the meeting and Rosemead for hosting. If you would like to be involved in this project but weren’t aware of or able to attend the meeting, please get in touch on abirley@lambeth.gov.uk

*excuse the pun, borrowed from Richard Alford on Lancaster Avenue!

Another bridge strike on Thurlow Park Road

This morning another bridge strike involving a large lorry disrupted commuter trains and traffic. This bridge is the worst in London for strikes and the disruption has a huge impact and cost.

As we shared a couple of months ago, we have raised this issue with TfL and action is being taken as a result. Senior officers are looking to invest in better signage to replace the existing temporary signs before the Spring. These should provide a short term improvement – and signs can be reused so if and when they are no longer needed in Thurlow Park, we can ensure they are reinstalled elsewhere to make best use of resources.

To tackle the problem in the long term, a business case for the large amount of funding it would take to lower the road is being put together. This would also be a significant engineering challenge – there is a sewer below the south circular and the side roads like St Faith’s would need to be examined to work out how to accommodate lower junctions.

Senior TfL officers have offered to meet with Lancaster Avenue residents this month as their road is currently the diversion route for oversized vehicles. We will be discussing new signage, improving 20mph signage to reduce speeding, and the long term plans for the bridge.