In just a few weeks time, an entirely new station building is due to open at Abbey Wood, ahead of the arrival of the Elizabeth line next year.
It’s part of a Network Rail project to upgrade the line from Plumstead to Abbey wood to support the arrival of the Elizabeth Line. Out of Crossrail’s total costs, some £2.5 billion has gone on Network Rail upgrades, towards Reading, Shenfield, and here at Abbey Wood.
Although this south-eastern spur is quite short compared to the others, it’s a critical component as the equipment being used to fit out the tunnels for signals and power originate in Plumstead. That made getting the area ready on time unusually critical.
It’s also the site of a new set of sidings to store Elizabeth line trains overnight. That was a late addition to the Crossrail plans, but it will bring an additional 170 jobs to the area.
What had to be done was an existing 2-track railway built up above the marsh on a raised earth embankment had to be widened to 4-lanes.
As the land the railway is raised above is drained marshland, and you can hit soggy soil by barely scratching the surface, they had to drive around 600 piles into the ground and put a fresh concrete slab on top to create a surface strong enough to take the new railway lines.
Thanks to the wide space accorded to the Victorian earthworks, modern widening only needed to buy up 3 homes that had encroached a bit into the line of the new tracks, and a few slices of back gardens. An unusually low impact for doubling the width of a railway.
Once the space was wide enough and new tracks laid, the existing Southeastern services were shunted southwards, while the Elizabeth line will take over the northern side of the tracks.
Whilst that was going on, Abbey Wood station needed a total rebuild.
The old station, as has been reported previously was a small 1980s hut, with a convoluted set of ramps to get up to the buses on the huge concrete flyover that runs beside it.
The station needed to be rebuilt for the new railway line anyway, so the council has taken the opportunity to revamp the entire area.
The new stingray style station will now sit up high, beside the flyover, which is itself being cleaned up and turned into a space welcoming to passengers rather than a windswept nothing to be avoided.
Stairs and lifts will lead down to the platforms, but thanks to how they expect this station to be used, there are two more sets of stairs and bridges further along the platform.
Around half of peak hour passengers are expected to be swapping between the Elizabeth line and Southeastern trains out to North Kent. So here, the middle set of steps will also include an escalator to help deal with the passenger numbers.
As the local shopping road is still down at ground level, and the ticket hall is moving “upstairs”, new glass clad lifts are being installed. They did try to avoid lifts, but the architects couldn’t find a ramp design that didn’t end up looking massive and ugly next to the new station.
The new ticket hall is currently a hive of activity, with final stage fit out taking place to prepare it for the paying public.
The new zinc roof cladding was finished a couple of weeks ago, and inside the open plan wood roof is complete. The roof was supplied by an Austrian firm, Wiehag, who also provided the beams used at Canary Wharf station’s roof garden.
The outside is being clad in dark brick below, the vertical wood slats above.
A new ticket office is being installed on the left side as you enter the station, and a “large chain store not of the coffee sort” is taking the large retail space on the opposite side.
There will be toilets in the station, on the trackside of the ticket barriers.
A cluster of smaller shops at the lower ground level are expected to open when the Elizabeth line arrives. As the station is about 12 minutes from Canary Wharf, and the area will soon fill up with banking commuters, it’s likely that one of them is going to be a “large chain store of the coffee sort”
The station building has cost in the region of £25 million to construct, and they are expecting to open the new ticket hall to the public around the last week in October.
If, and at the moment, it’s very speculative, that the Elizabeth line extends deeper into Kent, then some additional passive provision is being included in the design. There is already a single track going past the station to link up with the North Kent lines, for maintenance works, and it would be a modest effort to electrify that bit as well.
The hardest part is that there simply isn’t enough space here at the moment to have all four railway tracks extend under the road and into North Kent. Either an extension will be a single track, or a lot more works would need to be carried out.