West Hampstead rail project delayed 'indefinitely'
RESIDENTS and commuters are devastated after a vital project to revamp West Hampstead s overground station was delayed indefinitely. Network Rail has abandoned the revamp of the station to push it back from the road and widen the pavements because of the
RESIDENTS and commuters are devastated after a vital project to revamp West Hampstead's overground station was delayed indefinitely.
Network Rail has abandoned the revamp of the station to push it back from the road and widen the pavements because of the worsening credit crunch.
The scheme has been on the cards for years and, having waited so long, locals and passengers feel frustrated it will not be going ahead in the foreseeable future.
They claim the scheme is essential because the pavements are so narrow they are dangerous for the hundreds of commuters passing between the three West Hampstead stations each day.
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In order to fund the project, Network Rail was going to develop the land around the station. But it no longer wants to do this because of the economic downturn.
Chairwoman of West Hampstead Amenity and Transport (What), Virginia Berridge, said: "The project has been downgraded from high priority - when it was going to go ahead - to aspirational status which is very disappointing.
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"I am really annoyed. It seems we get to the starting point and it gets cancelled. It is very frustrating.
"The Thameslink project is going ahead, which is great, with the exit onto Iverson Road, but without pushing back the overground station it will push people into an un-integrated transport system.
"They will come out onto the road and have to cross where a lot of people have been run over because it is dangerous - where a man lost his leg in an accident earlier this year. The whole thing is very disappointing and quite worrying."
Fellow What member Mark Hutton added: "We are very disappointed and frustrated that there are no plans to re-site the overground station in the foreseeable future.
"It is very difficult for people to get from one station to the other and this would have made it a lot safer so people aren't wandering into the roads. The pavement is very narrow and it is a very dangerous junction.
"It is important if we are to tackle harmful climate change, reduce road congestion and cut back our dependency on imported fuel that the use of public transport is promoted through projects like these."
The project was supposed to have linked up with the scheme taking place at the Thameslink station to build a new footbridge, lengthen the platforms and install a lift.
A new Thameslink exit will be built onto Iverson Road at the junction with West End Lane so passengers will have easier access to the overground - but without the re-siting of the overground station residents say this junction will be even more dangerous.
Jitendra Thakorlal, chairman of the West Hampstead small traders and residents association, said: "The re-siting of the overground station and addressing the narrow pavements should have been done at the same time as the Thameslink.
"Otherwise it will still be very dangerous for people to cross there - and especially the large number of people using the stations. I am really disappointed and frustrated because West Hampstead really needs this - it has been needed for a long, long time."
A spokesman for TfL said: "TfL is not at the forefront of this project. We are waiting on Network Rail because the money for the scheme will come from developing the land around the station which is owned by them.
"Everyone is waiting to see what the current climate does. The scheme has not been scrapped but it has been delayed."
A spokesman for Network Rail said: "Before progressing further with the second phase of the redevelopment it is only right we can demonstrate a solid business case and show that the work will provide value for money.
"At present we are exploring funding sources to enable us and our partners to deliver the project that rail passengers in West Hampstead deserve.