Paddington station street closure sparks gridlock fears

Gridlock on Paddington’s roads could become a regular feature if plans to shut one of the main routes by the station go ahead, warn campaigners.

Eastbourne Terrace, which is the main thoroughfare running alongside Paddington station, could be completely closed to traffic for two years under plans submitted by Crossrail.

The road is currently partially closed with reduced lanes but developers for the new east-to-west railway link are hoping to shut it entirely to speed up the construction process from seven to five years.

Local residents and organisations are fighting the plans which they say would bring Paddington to a standstill as cars, buses and emergency vehicles are diverted onto unsuitable roads.

Concerns have been raised that ambulances heading for nearby St Mary’s Hospital could be delayed by precious minutes as a result of the closure – although the hospital has moved to reassure patients it has identified alternative routes.

Campaign group Paddington Residents Active Concern on Transport (PRACT) has objected on behalf of residents organisations in Paddington, Maida Vale, Bayswater, and Hyde Park.

PRACT secretary John Walton says the closure would see major delays on the roads with residents experiencing severe noise and pollution disruption.

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“We are very concerned that the whole system will seize up,” he said.

“The roads already get blocked up and it will just cause chaos. There will be delays to buses and possibly to ambulances as well.

“If ambulances can’t get through Craven Road [where Crossrail is proposing to redirect 16 bus routes] they will have to divert which would add minutes onto their journey.”

Paddington Business Improvement District, which represents businesses in the area, has also raised concerns about delays to emergency vehicles.

But a spokeswoman for Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust moved to dispel their fears. “There will be absolutely no delay for patients accessing the hospital in an emergency ambulance,” she said.

Residents of Craven Road and Westbourne Terrace – roads which are likely to experience the greatest traffic increase – have complained that an increase in noise and pollution will leave them unable to open their windows.

A Crossrail spokesman said the proposed closure will “significantly reduce the overall impact on the local community” by cutting two years off construction time. He said: “Crossrail is very sensitive to the concerns of local business and residents and we continue to discuss this proposal with them.”

An application to close the road will be submitted by Crossrail.