Plans to improve access to the overcrowded Hackney Central station have taken a step forward with a proposed deal between the council and Network Rail.
At the moment, the station entrance on the north side of the railway, built in the 1980s when the line was rather moribund, is hidden away and very small, leading to congestion. However, it’s also nearly impossible to improve without closing the station entirely as the exit would be a building site.
As an aside, part of the reason why the Hackney Central station entrance is so small is that it was always intended to be a temporary building, to be replaced by a new station on the Crossrail 2 line. Obviously that never happened, and with the Overground surging in use, the old ticket office can’t cope.
Fortunately, the council owns a plot of empty land on the south side of the railway which is plans to offer on a below market rate rent for a temporary station entrance to be built while the existing entrance is rebuilt.
Designs have been prepared for a new station entrance on Graham Road as well as new westbound facing stairs off the existing station footbridge to further alleviate congestion at the base of the stairs. The proposed scheme will include the creation of a secondary ticket hall on Graham Road which will provide direct access off the westbound platform. In order to further relieve congestion around the overbridge and with the interchange with Hackney Downs additional stairs (facing west) will be constructed off the overbridge. These will serve both platforms.
Surveys carried out by TfL have shown that approximately a third of passengers would use the new entrance as opposed to the current ticket hall thereby providing immediate congestion relief from the date of opening.
The £3.2 million costs to deliver the station improvement scheme will be met by Network Rail via their Accelerated Enhancement Fund.
There is also an option in the plans for the temporary southern entrance to become a permanent one, if the council can secure the rental income from Network Rail, and develop above the station entrance.
Under the plans, work would start later this year.
The Cabinet will also consider plans to start design work on a permanent new entrance building on the north side of the station to provide long-term improvements for passengers. That is expected to see the council owned car park at Amhurst Road redeveloped to create a much larger station entrance with the commercial oversite development funding the cost.